Doolin Session 1
The secret to all musical forms of bodhrán playing is “LISTEN TO THE MUSIC”
If the session is playing a jig then its no use trying to accompany it with a reel rhythm, it just won't work. That said, everyone has to start somewhere, and what better place to start than in your own home where no-one can hear you scream.
The best way to practice is to put on a tape or CD and play along. It will be apparent immediately that there are different rhythms, and so what follows is an introduction to get you started.
To make these rhythms as clear as I can, three different notations are used, letters in blue, phonetic in red, as well as a pseudo musical score.
REEL 4/4 time.
Bodhran Reel
The simplest of all beats, the Reel is made up of a four beat sequence. Down up down up, with an accent on the first beat. DuduDuduDuduDudu. Dabberdabber,Dabberdabber,Dabberdabber,Dabberd*abber. (Salt and Pepper, Salt and Pepper)
JIG (Double Jig) 6/8 time.
Bodhran Jig
In many ways the most pleasing of all the rhythms, and one which gives rise to the most variations. In this sequence, instead of the basic accents being on every fourth beat, they are on every third. This gives the wonderfully uplifting rhythm of the jig. The beats are Down up down, Up down up DudUdu,DudUdu, DidddleyDiddley,DidddleyDiddley. (Pineapple, Apricot, Pineapple, Apricot.)
SLIP JIG 9/8 time.
Bodhran Slip Jig
The SLIP JIG is merely three sets of jig sequences to a bar instead of two. So instead of the sequence just being - Down up down, Up down up; it is Down up down, Up down up,Down up down. This is a most beautiful flowing rhythm and repays all the efforts necessary to learn it. To make it work properly there must be two ranks of accents, the main and the secondary. The main is the one you concentrate on, because once you have mastered the jig the secondary accents will take care of themselves. So DudUduDud,UduDudUdu. (The main accents are underlined.) DiddleyDiddley,DiddleyDiddley,DiddleyDiddley, (Pineapple, Apricot, Sausages, Pineapple, Apricot, Sausages). The rhythm becomes clearer if the second note of each bar is skipped. Thus the first bar starts with two downstrokes and the second bar with the up strokes.
HORNPIPE 4/4 time.
Bodhran Hornpipe
This is the same time sequence as for a reel but with more emphasis on the accent at the beginning of each 4 beat bar. Personally I find this a bit boring and tend to play it as a 'flammed' Military Two-Step (as above), to give it more life.
POLKA 2/4 time
Bodhran Polka 1
Bodhran Polka 2
The distinguishing feature of the polka is the two accents on the end of each
Basically the sequence is
diddleUm, Tum Ta, which translates - down up Down, Down Down. duD D D
More often the movement takes two bars, and goes -
Dum, diddleUm, diddleUm, Tum Ta. Or,if you want to go the whole hog you put a triplet in it and go Dum, diddleyUm, diddleyUm, Tum Ta.
SLIDE 12/4 time
Bodhran Slide
Basically a fast two-step with the diddleys added. Like this - Dum tedum tedum tedum tedum Diddley diddley Dum, D dU uD dU uD dU uD dududuD. The snare drum equivalent is a BeBop.
Bodhran Military Two Step
A beautifully basic rhythm based on the standard Jig but with two of the six beats missed out. Down up, up down. dU uD dU uD, diDum diDum diDum, diDum. (In snare drumming terms these are 'flams')

SO PUT ON YOUR FAVOURITE CD AND GET PLAYING. As a guide many CD’s state the type of music being played.

Here are some of my favourites

CONAL Ó GRÁDA The Top of Coom
PURE BODHRAN The Definitive Collection
SHASKEEN a collection of Jigs and Reels
The Best of THE CEÍLÍ Bands

HAPPY DRUMMING. Remember, if you are playing with the music, then you can't go wrong. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN.
The Elastic Band
Tommy Hayes and Mel Mercer
Charlie Reilly
Celtic Knot