Often described as the ‘Heartbeat of Ulster’, the Lambeg Drum is a unique instrument. With its distinctive sound and unmistakable presence, it plays an important role within the musical and Ulster-Scots community in Ulster, and these qualities – and more – are highlighted in a new series of videos.

Produced by Third Street Studios in partnership with the Ulster-Scots Agency, and with support from Northern Ireland Screen’s Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund, Ulster-Scots Music Traditions looks at the history and culture of the Lambeg Drum and Fife.

From the evolution of the Lambeg drum in Ulster and the memories of those growing up surrounded by the instrument and its music, to the skilled artisan craftsmen who hand-craft and paint each drum using traditional methods handed down over generations, the series explores the importance of the instrument in Ulster-Scots communities.

There are six videos; ‘The Heartbeat of Ulster’, ‘History of the Big Drum’, ‘Handmade in Ulster’, ‘The Science of the Lambeg Drum’, ‘Drumming and Dancing’, and ‘Learning to play the Lambeg Drum’.

In this first instalment, ‘The Heartbeat of Ulster’, members of the Ulster-Scots and drumming community discuss the Lambeg (and its traditional accompaniment, the Fife), and what the instruments mean to them. For example, Jasmine Cullen reveals how she was first introduced to drumming two years ago, while Dr Diana Culbertson shares her memories of growing up with the sound of the drums every year in the lead up to The Twelfth, and her hopes that these traditions and connections will continue to be handed down through the generations.

Also featured is Alfie Magill who explains the intricacies of the Lambeg which help to give its unique sound, as experienced drummers William Grafton and Andy Young discuss the camaraderie and friendly rivalry that go hand-in-hand with drumming competitions.

The above videos follow the release of ‘Dirigo – The Maine Drum’ and ‘The Giant of Percussion with Dame Evelyn Glennie’ which were released earlier this year.

Dirigo – The Maine Drum  

To celebrate the State of Maine’s bicentennial in 2020, and in recognition of the close partnership between the Ulster-Scots Agency and Maine Ulster-Scots Project, a Lambeg drum was commissioned to mark the occasion. Keeping with the tradition of naming Lambeg drums, the ‘Maine Drum’ is named ‘Dirigo’ (‘I Lead’), the motto of the State of Maine. 

‘Dirigo’ was painted by Richill-based drum painter and champion drummer Andy Young and includes images that celebrate the shared history and links between Maine and Ulster: https://youtu.be/9Ns5qLO-VmQ  

Giant of Percussion 

World-renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie has performed around the globe with the greatest orchestras and performers; and is a double Grammy Award winner and Bafta nominee. She also has a collection of more than 2,000 percussion instruments – including a Lambeg drum.  

When the Ulster-Scots Agency heard that Dame Evelyn’s drum was unplayable because of a torn head we wanted to have it repaired and, with help, the instrument was transported to Northern Ireland from Cambridgeshire in England and treated to a pair of new heads. The Lambeg drum was then shipped back to Evelyn.

In ‘Giant of Percussion’, Dame Evelyn speaks to Richard Hanna, Director of Education and Language at the Ulster-Scots Agency about how she came to own a Lambeg drum and what it means to have it in her collection: https://youtu.be/ucrIniPGcbA

These videos can be viewed via the Ulster-Scots Agency’s YouTube channel here.