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FERGAL O’BRIEN & RENÉ DE KAT - Grade 2 Bodhrán Tutor & CD

FERGAL O’BRIEN & RENÉ DE KAT - Grade 2 Bodhrán Tutor & CD
Private Label

This is a tutor book designed to assist those preparing for Grade 2 bodhrán exams, based on the Irish Traditional Music Syllabus used by the London College of Music. It assumes a basic knowledge of the instrument (how to hold it, use of tipper etc), so is not intended for absolute beginners, but its fairly basic nature means that it would lend itself to anyone fairly near the start of their bodhrán journey.

The book clearly lays out the three different components of the exam, and then proceeds with a selection of eight tunes for performance, including various tune types – a reel, a hornpipe, a double jig, a mazurka, etc. Each tune is written in two ways – firstly as a series of down and up strokes with a numbered rhythm, and secondly in normal musical notation with the rhythm marked underneath. This gives access to those who can read music, and also others who can’t. Both ways make use of a catchy rhyme, written specifically for each tune to help learners remember the rhythm.

A CD comes with the package that allows learners to hear the tunes being played simply on the whistle in three ways: slowly (along with the rhyme), slightly faster (to practice along with), and once more with the bodhrán played by the author. The pictographic stroke rhythm with emphasised strokes combined with the printed text of the voiceover, subsequently overlaid by the voice emphasis, and later drum, is most useful in aiding a comprehensive understanding.

In addition, there is a fun quiz at the end to help students gain a little bit more knowledge of the bodhrán (which is also required for the exam) and a handy list of other books and tutor DVDs that people might want to move on to.

This is a very useful, accessible little tutor book. It introduces learners to the different rhythms and forms found in traditional music without over-complicating things at this early stage, and anyone - not just those sitting the Grade 2 exam - would learn from it. Recommended.

Chris Heatley-Mulhall

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This album was reviewed in Issue 120 of The Living Tradition magazine.