Hi there everyone! I apologize for the amount of time that’s gone by since my last blog post. I’ve been incredibly busy working on a new joint venture, Rebellion Drums Bodhráns. I thought I’d talk a bit about this new project by answering five self-imposed questions 🙂 If you’re interested in a new direction in the world of the bodhrán, read on…
1. What are you “rebelling” against?
We are rebelling against the conventional “wisdom” that the bodhrán should only be built by certain people in certain countries, using only certain materials, and that our instrument should only be used in certain musical contexts. Our “little drum” doesn’t need to be constrained. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with our instrument in terms of construction, technique, and musical application. It’s a truly an exciting time to play the bodhrán! We are thrilled to be pushing the envelope when it comes sound, design, and the overall quality of bodhráns that are now available to musicians anywhere in the world.
2. Who is behind Rebellion Drums?
Rebellion Drums is an international collaboration of four innovators in the world of percussion. Rebellion Drums is:
–Matthew Bell– Founder, “Bossman,” Skin modification/product design and development/publicity
–Christian Hewditschak– Drum frame production/product design and development
–Dave Loyal– Skin modification/product design and development
–Stevie Moises– Frame shaping of WAVE model bodhráns/product design and development
3. Why did you design a bodhrán around the use of standard synthetic drumheads?
There are many situations, anything from a local session where patrons are constantly coming in and out of doors causing cold air to blow into the bar, to a stage or recording environment, or even an outdoor setting, where having a drumhead that is not constantly and drastically changing in pitch is incredibly useful. For many touring musicians, the different humidity levels from venue to hotel to bus to train etc. is enough to make a natural-skinned bodhrán useless.
While synthetic skins do change in tension as a result of differences in humidity, the changes are much less severe than with natural skin heads. The ability to travel with several different heads for one drum is useful in terms of wear and tear and to be able to vary the sound from venue to venue as needed. You can also now use the same drum frame with different heads for accoustic or amplified work, which keeps the overall feel of the instrument similar, but lets you adjust your sound as needed for different musical settings.
There are also types of sounds and techniques that a player can use on a synthetic head that are simply impossible to replicate on a natural skin. Some of these include incredibly long pitch bends, highly accurate thumb-induced octave jumps, and overall, the use of an incredibly wide tonal palette.
4. Why do your bodhráns use standard aluminum-collared drumheads rather than a bodhrán-specific head design?
We elected to design a bodhrán around aluminum collared drumheads for several reasons. One of the main ideas when we founded Rebellion Drums was to give the percussionist maximum flexibility and control over their own individual sound. Standard drumheads are available from several different manufacturers, in a dizzying array of configurations. As such, a Rebellion Drums Bodhrán can sound very different depending on what head the player selects, how and what they apply for dampening, and what implement they choose to play the bodhrán with.
Standard synthetic heads are available just about anywhere in the world, and the 14″ size that our bodhráns use is an incredibly common size. It’s easy to travel with several different heads at a time, and if you are on the road and need a drumhead, any music store will have 14″ drumheads in stock.
For us, it’s all about flexibility and ease of use, which lets you create and easily reproduce the sound that YOU prefer.
5. Are your bodhráns designed for a certain kind of player, or for a certain style of music?
Absolutely not. Our bodhráns are as equally at home in a traditional Irish music session as they are on a stage in front of thousands of people. Because of the wide array of heads available, our bodhráns can be set up to sound great through a microphone, or configured for use in a purely acoustic setting. Certain head types feature an increased attack along with greater low frequency presence, while other heads sound great at medium or high tunings. These differences can easily correspond to more “traditional” versus more modern or “top end” playing styles. While classical, world, and pipe band percussionists will feel particularly at home using synthetic heads, players used to natural skin will find synthetic skins quite easy to get used to.