Thursday, August 03, 2006


I write about music. A lot. Irish music, folk music, Texas music, the music of Scotland. I am a musician, too, although I had got away from that, for a while. Sing some, around the house or with friends, I’ve never stopped that. But not so much time with the instruments of late.

I didn’t grow up in a musical family. For all their various reasons music wasn’t welcome and certainly wasn’t to be seen as a career. So I went into art, which wasn’t acceptable either...anyway, music always, always called me, and finally I found a home in it. Rough and rocky road, indeed, sometimes, and especially lately when the writing gigs have been thin on the ground. But home, nonetheless.

Last November, a bodhran found its way to my door. It’s a plain one, and tunable, not a tourist one. Made it Pakistan, it says though, a nice Celtic touch.
When I first tried it, did the Christy Moore thing with the bare hand for a while to get the beat, and then started with the tipper. And decided I was no good at this at all. Left it sitting where I could see it every day though and picked it up now and then. And finally, a few weeks ago, go where I could really hear the patterns, and the left hand dynamics, and was just having a great time, playing by myself, no one around, and thought. I really love this.

I live in a university neighborhood and fortunately my neighbours are all away on college break at the moment, so if I want to practice triplets at 6 am I am free to do so. That won’t last long. But what will, in addition to the joy of letting the music come through me again, is how much playing music really informs writing about it. And of course now that I've admitted to playing the thing, my friends who read this post will make me do it public. Not a bad thing, that helps the writing and the music, too.

More on that, and on the other instruments which live in my house, to come later.

Thanks for the music.

Never heard of the bodhran? look and listen here:
  • virtual session from the bbc

  • check out bodhran playing from rising Scots band Back of the Moon
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    posted by Kerry Dexter at


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