Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pet Peeves

There are a lot of things that show up at historic festivals that shouldn't. Many of these have jumped from celtic and Renaissance festivals.

Bodhrons - Those flat drums that are played on-handed. I don't object to them as instruments. I know several talented bodhron players. Unfortunately, none of them come to historic events. The people who pull these out at historic events seldom have any idea how to play them properly. You are supposed to press your left hand against the skin from the back, changing the tone as you play. You hold the beater like a pencil and only use one end with a sort of brushing motion. When played properly, it is a rather soft instrument and one of the few drums that isn't a monotone.

Even if played correctly, these instruments are inappropriate. Some people trace them back hundreds of years. Others say that they were an agricultural tool that was occasionally used for rhythm in very poor, agricultural areas of Ireland and not a part of mainstream Irish music until the 1970s. Either way, they were obscure before the late 20th century.

Utilikilts - A proper kilt is a long piece of wool, folded into pleats and belted into a garment. Later (we're talking Victorian period) the pleats were sewn into the kilt to make it easier to put on. In the 1990s, some Americans started making kilts out of heavy cotton with wide pleats sewn in and snap closures. These are fine for celtic fesitvals but out of place at historic events. I have one but I am selective where I wear it.

Irish Music - It used to be that you heard lots of old folk music at historic events. These days it is pretty much limited to 19th and 20th century Irish music. Don't get me wrong - I love Irish music and play in Irish sessions a few times a month, but most of it is out of period for anything earlier than the Civil War.

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