Few other instruments can match the Lambeg drum for size and sheer volume. This Impressive percussion instrument is unique to the province of Ulster, and its not made anywhere else. It is in fact the largest double-sided rope tension drum in the world, and is thought to be the loudest folk instrument on the planet! The Lambeg drum is perhaps most usually associated with the Orange tradition, where it is often used to accompany marchers on parade. However drumming matches and competitions are held independently by drumming clubs the length and breadth of the province.
The true origin of the Lambeg drum remains unknown, as there is very little historical evidence documenting this instrument. However, the mystery surrounding its creation has given rise to many different folklores, which have become as much a part of the Lambeg drumming tradition as the music itself.
There are several different theories surrounding the origins of the Lambeg drum, one such theory explains the title ‘Lambeg’ suggests the drum was first built in the village of Lambeg, near Lisburn. Another popular theory is that the drums were first beaten with canes at a meeting in Lambeg in the 1870’s. Some argue that the drum was first introduced by continental Williamite soldiers in the summer of 1690, and that the drum was played by these troops whilst camped at Lambeg enrolee from Carrickfergus to the Battle of the Boyne.
Another prominent story in Lambeg folklore connected to the Battle of the Boyne explains the uniquee rhythms that are traditionally played on the drum. Legend has it that King William’s drummer boy had fallen asleep after eating a supper consisting of bread. An opportunist Wren flew down and began to peck at the crumbs lying on the drum head. The noise caused the boy to wake form his sleep just in time to discover the camp was under attack. He was then able to raise the alarm in time to prevent defeat.
Goat skins from female ‘nanny’ goats are preferred for drum heads, as they tend to be lighter and cleaner skin, making them easier to work with than a male or ‘Billy’ goat hide.