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PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:18 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
The bodhrán really made it from household implement to wrenboy noisemaker to musical instrument. O'Riada is usually given the credit for reviving/introducing it to the mainstream but there was an undercurrent of 'tambourine' players, with bells and all during the middle of the 20th century at least.


I've never seen any evidence that bodhrán, per se existed as a /musical/ instrument before O'Riada.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:47 pm 
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highland-piper wrote:

I've never seen any evidence that bodhrán, per se existed as a /musical/ instrument before O'Riada.


It was certainly popular supporting the fifes of the wrenboys in some areas, North Kerry for example.

Some wellknown images of that exist too.

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The Morrison flute 78rpms have already been mentioned.

Fintan Vallely put together a lot of information, not sure he published it all but have seen him do 'the talk'. O'Riada didn't make it up out of thin air although he probably integrated the thing into ensemble playing.

There were older players documented during the fifties, in West Clare I could think of Thady Casey, Marcus Walsh and people like that and I don't believe they took them up because of O'Riada.

Lack of documentation doesn't necessarily mean there weren't a few around in pockets here and there.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 2:48 pm 
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highland-piper wrote:
Mr.Gumby wrote:
The bodhrán really made it from household implement to wrenboy noisemaker to musical instrument. O'Riada is usually given the credit for reviving/introducing it to the mainstream but there was an undercurrent of 'tambourine' players, with bells and all during the middle of the 20th century at least.


I've never seen any evidence that bodhrán, per se existed as a /musical/ instrument before O'Riada.


I do see mention of drums here and there. O'Neill mentions drums a few times, but not in his childhood. I haven't been tracking it because it's tangential, but I've seen a few other mentions. There's that painting of "snap apple night" where a guy is playing what we'd call a tambourine Bodhran-style. Not clear how "musical" that would have been.

A great mystery is the Tom Morrison/John Reynolds flute and Bodhran stuff. Where did that come from? It's a clearly developed style--Reynolds has obviously done that more than once. But it's like it appeared from nowhere. It might be some kind of US minstrel/Vaudeville thing. "Mr. Tambo" was a stock figure in the minstrel show.


Sorry i see Mr. Gumby already posted all this. Still where in the world did the Morrison/Reynolds thing come from?


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:23 am 
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I do see mention of drums here and there.


But quite possibly the types played in (marching) bands, pipe, fife and brass bands were all popular at one time and drummers would be part of them. Some of the 78 rpms used drums (Leo Rowsome did a few of those, for example).

But, like the bodhrán (or perhaps more correctly: the tambourine) initially was, they're still strongly associated with the wren boys.

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Aoife Granville, Charlie Piggot and other members of the Sraid Eoin Wren at Muirís Ó Rochain's funeral

Percussion may not have been all that common outside band settings, people did use what they had handy, if someone wanted to whack something. In home settings anything kept around the house could have done: the bodhran, a winnowing dish, seems to have developed from there but also spoons, the old, dreaded, coin and glass etc. I have even seen a duet of flute and tongs (and it worked well too).

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:00 am 
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This is the detail of the painting of which Hammily Hamilton says "Detail of a painting of about 1842 showing the interior of a shebeen in Listowel, County Kerry. The fluteplayer is playing what is obviously a full-sized flute, and appears to be wearing a military style cap. The other musician is playing the bodhran, the Irish frame drum. This is the first depiction of either instrument in an Irish traditional context." (from "The simple-system flute in Irish traditional music" by Samuel Colin Hamilton, 2007)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:24 am 
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As far as I know that and the "snap apple night" painting, which also appears as a lithograph, are the only visual depictions of Bodhran playing in the 19th century. But as Mr. Gumby mentions there had to have been drum playing traditions, both in ireland and related to the experience of being in the army or seeing the british army on the march.

Keane's "The Bodhran Makers" describes it not just as a wren dance thing, but as a tradition that's musical--an adult can be known as a good Bodhran player--in Kerry. He also has a character from the north, an Irish native, who's never heard of a Bodhran.

It's still not clear to me where john Reynolds was from--I think I've seen Leitrim? But he clearly had a well developed and specifically irish style in the late 1920s. Were they called "bodhrans" then, or just tambourines?

Also while at the Mercer museum I noticed Mercer had collected a bunch of hoop shaped grain sifts, the things Bodhrans are alleged to be based on.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:32 am 
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Keane's "The Bodhran Makers" describes it not just as a wren dance thing, but as a tradition that's musical--an adult can be known as a good Bodhran player--in Kerry. He also has a character from the north, an Irish native, who's never heard of a Bodhran.


A lot of references coming out of North Kerry and West Limerick, definitely a pocket where tambourines/bodhrans were strong. You may (or may not) know of the 1977 documentary on Sonny Canavan, up in the RTE archive : here. But there were others also, this 1966 one for example. Nice old photographs knocking about too, the famous 1946 ones of the boy with bodhran & stick by Kevin Danaher :


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but many others as well, a lot associated with the Wren :

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There was another old character who used to come up sell his stuff during the eighties and early nineties, nice old guy although I forget his name now, he may or may not have come down from the Gort area:

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:03 pm 
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Thanks Peter for all the wonderful photos!

I'd seen the Wren Boy one, but none of the others.

About Chief O Neill, whether or not all his statements would be considered valid today (with the gift of a century of hindsight) they undoubtedly express the attitudes and opinions of a turn-of-the-century Irishman deeply involved in Irish music.

Yes he was beating the uilleann pipe drum often and loudly! But he was alarmed at the seemingly eminent extinction of the instrument. Keep in mind that the genuine Irish warpipe and the traditional Irish harp were already extinct, and the Irish language had suffered a massive decline in O Neill's lifetime.

In Scotland the Lowland pipes and Union pipes, quite popular in the 18th century, had gone extinct in the 19th.

The villain of the piece was the Scottish Highland pipes.

After devoting 150 pages of Irish Minstrels And Musicians to uilleann pipers past and present there's a five-page chapter "Typical Highland Pipers".

And near the end of the book he laments

"The old race of the Union pipers is fast passing away...the Warpipe craze apparently has not yet reached its zenith… a fellow has only got to get a set of Warpipes, hang a kilt around his middle...and he becomes an Irish piper..."

Today's New York St Patrick's Day Parade, if O Neill could but see it, with thousands of kilted Highland pipers, and nary a Union pipe in sight, would be the fulfillment of his worst fears.

That sight wouldn't reveal to him that the Union pipes, in spite of it all, have reached their own zenith.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:00 am 
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Thanks Peter for all the wonderful photos!

I'd seen the Wren Boy one, but none of the others.


You're welcome, it's always fun to dig out that stuff. I had originally put up a few scan of pics of the Kilfenora bands, the original brass band and the fife and drum band that went on in the village to become the small industry that is now the Kilfenora Ceiliband. I took them down because the person who let me scan them originally asked me for a bit of discretion with them. And Bill Ochs was going to use them for the Micho book as well. But that's not going to go in its envisaged form anyway, so here's one now, I love that sort of stuff:

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I like those photos of Thady Casey and Marcus Walsh (with John Fennel on the whistle). They are from the fifties, Thady Casey at the 1957 Fleadh in Miltown Malbay. There was a pocket of bodhran players in this area, there was also Pat Kelly who played with Junior Crehan and his group. I have pics of him somewhere and there certainly are some on the Clare library site.

There's a recording Seamus Ennis made as his final free lance job for BBC of a bunch of Clare players in 1961-ish in the house of Marty Malley where Willie Clancy plays with Aggie White and Thady Casey whacking the tambourine. Raucous stuff.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:07 pm 
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I have a double-cassette tape set of recordings made in Co. Clare and Co. Kerry by Ciaran MacMathuna "as far back as 1955". The 5th track on "Music From Kerry" is "How to make a bodhran" by Jack Duggan. No indication when exactly the recording was made, but it may well pre-date O'Riada's "introduction of the bodhran". Might "legal action" follow, if I put it up on "Youtube", do you think ?

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:36 pm 
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Is that the Job of Journeywork, Kenny?

As a bit of trivia, at the Muiris Memorial Concert recently Peadar O Riada had a bodhran during the finale with Cór Cuil Aodha. The thing was so discoloured, misshapen and ancient looking I reckoned it must have been his father's. The pic makes it look in better shape though. The man with the glasses behind him is Cathal O'Riada. (and you get a little glimpse of the new hall :) )


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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:53 pm 
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kenny wrote:
I have a double-cassette tape set of recordings made in Co. Clare and Co. Kerry by Ciaran MacMathuna "as far back as 1955". The 5th track on "Music From Kerry" is "How to make a bodhran" by Jack Duggan. No indication when exactly the recording was made, but it may well pre-date O'Riada's "introduction of the bodhran". Might "legal action" follow, if I put it up on "Youtube", do you think ?


The legal action would consist of nothing more than having it taken down, most likely. In the US I believe someone would have had to file a copyright claim. It seems entirely reasonable to me to just put it up. We shouldn't allow the past to be "enclosed."

For example, I recently found a photo of Frances O'Neill's house in Chicago, taken in 1964. Handwritten on the back was a message saying the Chicago Historical Society could not release the photo as specified in correspondence with "X." X died in 2007, and left no heirs, and the correspondence mentioned can't be located, but the Chicago Historical Archive is simply assuming it's under copyright, and in the US, copyright extends to seventy years beyond the death of the owner. So no one will be able to reproduce this photo until 2077. It's a good example of the mindlessness of copyright law: there is no one who benefits from the restriction; there's no owner whose rights are being protected; there's not even any record of an actual copyright claim, but it can't be used. The house itself no longer exists.

So I'd say why NOT put it up?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:06 pm 
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It's a good example of the mindlessness of copyright law: there is no one who benefits from the restriction; there's no owner whose rights are being protected; there's not even any record of an actual copyright claim, but it can't be used. The house itself no longer exists.


That stuff is there for a reason, having been on the receiving end of the old 'we can't find the owner of the photograph' more often than I care to think about (the curse of Google images :swear: ), I don't think I agree with you on the mindlessness of copyright law. But I do think there are many grey areas where one shouldn't apply them all too rigidly and to the letter.

I don't think RTE will be quick to have a go in this case.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:24 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
It's a good example of the mindlessness of copyright law: there is no one who benefits from the restriction; there's no owner whose rights are being protected; there's not even any record of an actual copyright claim, but it can't be used. The house itself no longer exists.


That stuff is there for a reason, having been on the receiving end of the old 'we can't find the owner of the photograph' more often than I care to think about (the curse of Google images :swear: ), I don't think I agree with you on the mindlessness of copyright law. But I do think there are many grey areas where one shouldn't apply them all too rigidly and to the letter.

I don't think RTE will be quick to have a go in this case.


The owner of the photograph is dead and left no heirs--I checked. No one is benefitting from the copyright

In my professional life more and more material is being "enclosed." For example I found lots of political cartoons featuring O'Neill in the early 1900s. Some of them come in the form of commercially digitized images and you need to pay a fee to the digitizer, for example, Proquest Historical Newspapers. An image from 1901 is out of copyright in the US, but in many cases, the originals no longer exist after digitization. So effectively Proquest has seized public domain property. Add to that the fact that in my case the taxpayers of VA are already paying very very very large annual fees to proquest for the use of digitzed images of public domain material, and you can maybe see the grounds for irritation.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 12:14 pm 
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Following on from discussions above - "How to make a bodhran / Kiely's slides" - recorded by Ciaran MacMathuna, in 1955 : https://youtu.be/gdnvyhr-qbE

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