Playing with a folk group

Duracell

Senior Member
I got invited by a friend to a folk jam session. The group plays Irish/French music in waltz and two beat feels (polka!). Good fun and all but me being a contemporary drumkit player I had difficulty finding the groove of things. I just took my snare and played faux marching rythms, though I felt that they added way too much of a militaristic feel to everything sometimes.

I tried looking up the songs online and, surprise, surprise, they almost never have percussion. Can anyone help along with finding the " proper " way of supporting a group like this?
 

Longfuse

Senior Member
There's a series called Transatlantic Sessions that airs in the UK from time-to-time. Collaborations between US and UK (mainly Scottish and Irish) folkies and country musicians. A drum kit often gets used alongside traditional hand-percussion instruments, and a lot of the time the drummers use brushes. Not exactly traditional, but it does suit the music well. There are loads of clips from Transatlantic Sessions on yootoob.

Have you thought of learning hand-percussion? Great deal of fun. Even a tambourine stuck on your lap, drumming military stuff on the rim with your hands, should work well.

One of my favourite drummers from the folk scene is Terry Cox. Again, search yootoob for Pentangle. Cox used to orchestrate with the kit rather than play strict beats. I can't play like him, I just admire how he made the sound 'big' by doing things tastefully and uniquely, without ever drowning out the group.
 
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Duracell

Senior Member
Thanks for the tips!

I'd like to add that I'll never have acces to a full kit. I'm just a poor car-less student. I should see into acquiring a tambourine. Maybe I could just string some shakers to my left foot.
 

Longfuse

Senior Member
Thanks for the tips!

I'd like to add that I'll never have acces to a full kit. I'm just a poor car-less student. I should see into acquiring a tambourine. Maybe I could just string some shakers to my left foot.
A snare and brushes could see you through a whole gig/jam. That aside, spoons are pretty easy to learn. It took me an afternoon to learn the basics...although obviously you have to practice until it becomes second nature. This is an excellent lesson:

http://www.davidholt.com/details/music/folk-instruments/spoons/

No idea what the drummer is using here (anyone?), but just goes to show that simple is often all that is required (1:43 mark):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5X4Q6jFtHg
 
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opentune

Platinum Member
I just played with an acoustic guitarist, a couple weeks ago but not straight up folk. There are ways to blend in without crashing the party:
brushes and snare, with/without hihats and a well dampened bass drum. I think anything 'polka' or with a beat is suitable for a bass drum.
shakers, tambourine,
 

Longfuse

Senior Member
It's also worth checking out the many Bodhran lessons on yootoob. Not necessarily to learn how to play the Bodhran, but to snatch the typical rhythms used in folk. For example, a common jig rhythm @ 0:52 sec mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUO-rW6rcB8

Transfered to a snare/tom and played with conventional sticks, you could use one hand for 'down' strokes, the other hand for 'up' strokes.
 

Skulmoski

Gold Member
Lots of possibilities to support folk music:

- cajon (with or without brushes)
- riq
- tar or bendir (with or without brushes)
- shekere
- bongos

You can get a lot of different supporting textures with a small collection of percussion and it will all fit in a Smart car!

GJS
 
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