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Single End

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Single Ended Striking aka Top End is a contemporary technique for bodhrán playing.

The style has arisen from seminal developments in drum skins that encouraged stylistic, technical and academic study elevating the bodhrán into a performance instrument capable of displaying virtuosity, a far cry from it's pulse-keeping roots

The Single Ended style is characterized by the tipper being held above the drum and striking of the uppermost part of the skin, often in the top few centimeters. Unlike the Kerry style, the top of the tipper is not required to make contact with the skin and triplets are accomplished with technique and hand speed. See Also Single Ended Roll

The tippers used tend are often thin, 7-12" long, in the range of 8-12mm diameter and of a hard wood. Often a section of a violin / cello bow is used. Striking the drum in this manner with a tipper of this type produces a 'popping' sound that when used in conjunction with the left hand covers multiple octaves in pitch.

Other sticks that are popular are 'hotrods', bunches of dowels made from bamboo or hardwoods that have an adjustable 'click' - these are heavier than 'fiddle bow tippers' but provide a significantly improved bass response and a lot of the same hand speed can be achieved with practice.

The stick is held between the tip of the thumb and the middle knuckle of the first finger, some players hold it between the thumb tip and the finger tip.Others have a style of grip where the hand is held more like a fist enclosing the tipper.

Playing the top end style involves making 'strumming' hand movements, with the drum being struck on both the downstroke and the upstroke (forward and backward to be more accurate). Most of the action comes from the thumb and fingers rather than the wrist as with traditional styles. There is some rotation of the arm but the elbow stays pretty much immobile.

A common and useful stroke arising from Single Ended playing (but applicable generally) is the Down Down Up (DDU) stroke and the many variations that exist there. There are several exercises on the rudiments pages. Commonly the Single Ended style is blended with the traditional double ended style, there are many ways of combining styles to develop your personal style.

The drums used for this style generally use thin goatskins. Often the preferred skins come from the lambeg drum A Lambeg Skin is hand scraped to an even thinness and treated with the maker's secret formula.

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