Dr Borinson's Guide To Folks Instruments

  1. Build Your Own Melodeon
  2. How the Bodhran Got It's Name
  3. How to Play the Bagpipes
  4. Music For Masochists

Build Your Own Melodeon

A do-it-yourself guide

First take two bits of wood. Stick one of them to one side of a chunk of foam. Stick the other bit of wood to the other side of the foam. Paint the wood (not the foam). When the paint dries, stick buttons to the wooden ends. Test your melodeon carefully by squeezing it and pressing the buttons at the same time. It won't sound good, but better than the real thing.

How The Bodhran Got It's Name

By Ruddyhard Tippling

Long, long ago, oh best beloved, when the world was a softer place and Ireland was still almost all made of peat bogs things were different. For example, people were named for what they did rather than who their parents were. So if your name was Pete Smith then that meant you were Pete and you were a Smith. But in Ireland then most people were not called Mick or Pat like now but Ron. So if your name was Ron Murphy that meant that you were Ron and you drank a lot of Murphys (the stout, not people, of course).
Now our story is about a man called Ron, and Ron was a drummer. In fact he was the best drummer in Ireland. Ron was a good and honest man and always tried his best. He worked hard at what he did and what he did was drum. He practised hard and tried everything he could think of to make his drumming better. When people came to him with ideas he listened and he tried them out.
As Ron grew older, the way it does for most of us, his body didn't work as well as it used to. Age especially affected his arms and legs. It was as if they had done all the standing around drumming they could comfortably take and had started complaining about it. His arms grew weaker and his legs began to bow. Soon his afflictions forced him to stop drumming like he always had. But Ron was a hard working man and he love his drumming so he had to find some way of getting around these problems. He sat himself down and thought long about how he could make the best of what he was capable of, until one day Ron Pillock gave him the spark of inspiration. Ron Pillock was named, as I've already told like most people of the time, for what he did. And what Ron Pillock did best was be a pillock. He would go around the town of Bogmalone saying stupid things wherever he went. If someone had been offended or upset you could put a shilling down that Ron Pillock had been the offender and no one would think you reckless for it.
Pillock saw Ron Drummer trying to play one day with his bowed legs and tired arms and said to him, "You'd be better sticking that drum between your legs and let your tired arms hang down to play." After Pillock had picked himself up from the bog and found the three teeth he'd lost, Ron Drummer sent him home to upset the tooth fairy and sat down to mull things over.
A wise man is one who can see things where others can't and Ron Drummer wasn't stupid. He knew that in everything thoughtless that gets said there's likely to be a grain of truth and he started looking. It wasn't that long before he realised that his old bow legs might not be so good at holding him up anymore, but they were the right shape to hold a drum steady. Of course, it would have to be a one sided drum, because no one was going to crouch behind him (with his head up Ron's old arse) to play the other side, and his arthritic hands could use some help, but the idea might work.
Having solved half his problem Ron was wise enough to know that it was time for some refreshment, so off he toppled to the nearest pub. Now in these modern days of technology and learning we know that when you pour ale into a pint pot you fill the glass to the top and that's the measure, but in those ancient days they had to use another method. That method was a stick. You held the stick beside the glass and poured the drink in to the height of the stick. That way, whichever pint glass you used, you always got the same pint of ale, or porter, or whatever was your tipple. And tipple was the name given to the stick. A tipple was rarely straight and on this day the tipple that Ron Waterer used to measure the ale with touched both the top and the bottom of the glass as he poured. And Ron the drummer had a thought - the final touch to his new drum! - one stick but two beaters, so whilst Ron Waterer was off checking the taps, Ron Drummer committed the one crime of his life and stole the tipple.
Ron went back to his croft as fast as he could and the next day began building his new drum. he made it just the right size to fit between his bowed legs and he played on it with the tipple.
Just a week later Ron was playing his new instrument at the town ceilidhs and making quite a stir. People got to talking as people do and the reputation of this new drumming spread. Folk came from far away, from towns where they had their own Ron Drummers (it was quite a common name then). Now the bright new drummers who saw Bowed Ron play took up with this new idea and made drums for themselves just like Ron's. Without his bowed legs of course they had to find another way of holding it, but it still worked well, and when their townsfolk asked what it was, they told them - it's a Bowed Ron drum.

Time's change as they do, and so do names. We don't call people by what they do anymore, so there are few people name Pillock now, just as there aren't so many Ron's about. But there are plenty of his drums about, and the name has changed just a little over time - the Bodhran drum.

And that's how the Bodhran got it's name (and the tipple became the tipper).

How to Play the Bagpipes

A do-it-yourself guide

First catch your bagpipes. They are like cats and should be treated accordianly, allow them to go outside as often as necessary, (and possible). With great care take the mouthpiece into your mouth and, as you would with a young child, put the bag under your arm. The other bits can go where they like, but take care with them. Blow into the pipe as hard and often as you can. When you begin to feel dizzy, squeeze the bag. As the thing begins to scream start wiggling your fingers over the holes in the bit with holes in it. If it doesn't sound Scottish enough, wiggle them faster.

Music For Masochists

Whilst masochism has been well supported in the world of rock music, it is less well known that the masochist can enjoy many exquisite delights accompanied by and indeed because of folk music. The performer can experience a bewildering array of aches, pains and discomforts, but the listener need not feel excluded.
Some delights available to the rock musician are also provided for the folk artist - feedback at sound checks, broken limbs from falling off stage, electric shocks (harder to come by, though increasingly widely available) - but there are more exclusive pleasures to be gained. The caviar of pain must surely be tinnitus induced by persistent playing of bagpipes, or perhaps broken fingers and cracked skulls, the specialities of stick dancers.