The BODHRáN (/ˈbɔːrɑːn/ or /ˈbaʊrɑːn/ , Irish pronunciation: ; plural bodhráin or bodhráns) is an Irish frame drum ranging from 25 to 65 cm (10–26 in) in diameter, with most drums measuring 35–45 cm (14–18 in). The sides of the drum are 9–20 cm (3 1⁄2–8 in) deep. A goatskin head is tacked to one side (synthetic heads or other animal skins are sometimes used). The other side is open-ended for one hand to be placed against the inside of the drum head to control the pitch and timbre .
One or two crossbars, sometimes removable, may be inside the frame, but this is increasingly rare on modern instruments. Some professional modern bodhráns integrate mechanical tuning systems similar to those used on drums found in drum kits . It is usually with a hex key that the bodhrán skins are tightened or loosened depending on the atmospheric conditions.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Name * 1.2 Possible antecedents * 1.3 Popularity * 1.4 International use
* 2 Beaters
* 3 Playing
* 3.1 New techniques * 3.2 Common modifications
* 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links
According to musician Ronan Nolan, former editor of Irish Music
magazine, the bodhrán evolved in the mid-19th century from the
tambourine, which can be heard on some
Seán Ó Riada
The Irish word bodhrán (pronounced , plural bodhráin), indicating a drum, is first mentioned in a translated English document in the 17th century. It appears in Jacob Pool's list of words from the Baronies of Forth and Bargy in county Wexford (collected in the late 18th century), meaning "A drum, tambourine...also a sieve used in winnowing corn".
Third-generation bodhrán maker Caramel Tobin suggests that the name
bodhrán means "skin tray". He also suggests a link with the Irish
word bodhar, meaning, among other things, a drum or a dull sound (it
also means deaf ). A relatively new introduction to
The bodhrán is one of the most basic of drums and as such it is
similar to the frame drums distributed widely across northern Africa
It has also been suggested that the origin of the instrument may be
the skin trays used in
Peter Kennedy observed a similar instrument in
Dorothea Hast has stated that until the mid-twentieth century the
bodhrán was mainly used as a tray for separating chaff, in baking, as
a food server, and for storing food or tools. She argues that its use
as musical instrument was restricted to ritual use in rural areas. She
claims that while the earliest evidence of its use beyond ritual
occurs in 1842, its use as a general instrument did not become
widespread until the 1960s, when
Seán Ó Riada
There are no known references to this particular name for a drum
prior to the 17th century. Although various drums (played with either
hands or sticks) have been used in
The second wave roots revival of Irish Traditional music in the 1960s and 1970s brought virtuoso bodhrán playing to the forefront, when it was further popularized by bands such as Ceoltóirí Chualann and The Chieftains .
Growing interest led to internationally available LP recordings, at
which time the bodhrán became a globally recognized instrument. In
the 1970s, virtuoso players such as
The Boys of the Lough 's Robin
Although most common in Ireland, the bodhrán has gained popularity
The drum is struck either with the bare hand or with a lathe -turned piece of wood called a bone, tipper, beater, or cipín.
Tippers were originally fashioned from a double-ended knuckle bone, but are now commonly made from ash, holly,or hickory wood. Brush-ended beaters, and a "rim shot" (striking the rim) technique for contrast, were introduced by Johnny McDonagh .
Modern plastic brush-ended beater
The drum is usually played in a seated position, held vertically on
the player's thigh and supported by his or her upper body and arm
(usually on the left side, for a right-handed player), with the hand
placed on the inside of the skin where it is able to control the
tension (and therefore the pitch and timbre) by applying varying
amounts of pressure and also the amount of surface area being played,
with the back of the hand against the crossbar, if present. The drum
is struck with the other arm (usually the right) and is played either
with the bare hand or with a tipper. There are numerous playing
styles, mostly named after the region of
Later players such as Robbie Breathnach, Tommy Hayes, Aidan "Scobie" McDonnell , Abe Doron, and Damien Quinn developed sophisticated pitch-varying techniques which allow players to follow the tune being played. This was the birth of the "top-end" style. Their breakthrough in this style has achieved local and international acclaim with many beginners now being educated in this manner. This "top-end" style, is often played on a smaller (14–15 inch) and deeper (4–6 inch) drum with a thinner resonant skin, prepared like the skin of a Lambeg drum . The tipper in this style is usually straight and most of the expressive action is focused on the top end of the drum. The concept involves allowing a greater vs. lesser amount of the skin to resonate, with the "skin hand" acting as a moving bearing edge . Top-end players move the skin hand from the bottom and towards the top of the drum to generate increasingly high pitches. By making a "C" shape with the skin hand, the player can help enhance and even amplify the sound. The same concept can be employed while playing at the front of the drum (the skin hand moving towards and away from the player) or in a "bottom end" style, which is essentially top end, but upside down, with the majority of tipper strikes at the bottom of the head. In any of these styles, crossbars are most often absent, allowing a more unrestricted access for the left hand to modify the tone. This enables a more melodic approach to this rhythm instrument, with a wide range of tones being employed.
When playing the bodhrán as an accompaniment to Irish music, different beats may be used. For example, reels have a 4/4 time. The bodhrán player must stick to this rhythm but is free to improvise within the structure: most simply, s/he may enunciate the first beat of four, making a sound like ONE two three four ONE two three four; but s/he can syncopate, put in double pulses, according to the rhythmic characteristics of the tunes being played. This is the difference between sensitive and insensitive playing, a matter of much concern to other traditional musicians. Because the bodhrán typically plays 16th notes (Kerry style), a great deal of variety can be introduced by these syncopations and the use of rests. Combined with manual pitch changes and naturally occurring tonal variations in an animal skin drumhead, the bodhrán can almost sound as melodically expressive as other non-percussive instruments.
Playing styles have all been affected by the introduction of the
internal tone ring, driven against the skin to tension/loosen it by
screws. This was invented by Seamus O\'Kane , from
Dungiven , County
Londonderry , Northern
It is currently not unusual for the rim of a bodhran to be covered with electrical tape, either by the drum-maker or the owner. This both reduces "edge-loading" (where the vibrations in the skin hit the rim and bounce back toward the center of the drum), and dampens unwanted overtones, allowing for greater control of the drum's sound. Electrical tape is preferred because the adhesive is rubber-based and will stretch with the skin even after bonding to it, lessening the likelihood of bubbles and other changes in the tape occurring when the skin tension is changed by tuning or atmospheric conditions. Owners of lower quality drums, with thick and rough skins, may also choose to sand the skin very lightly to reduce the rasp when the tipper strikes the face of the drum. Many effects of these and other modifications to the drum-skin, especially high quality skins, can also be achieved through regular use of the drum over time.
A tunable bodhrán *
Inside of a Brendan White bodhrán *
Standard tuning system of a bodhrán from Pakistan *
Single-point tuning system by Seamus O'Kane *
Single Screw Tensioner System by Seamus O'Kane
As world music in general has become more popular, techniques once associated with other ethnic drumming traditions have become widespread in bodhrán playing.
* ^ Merriam-Webster\'s Collegiate Dictionary
* ^ A B C History of the bodhrán, part 1
* ^ Vallely, F. (Ed.). (1999). The Companion to Traditional Irish
Music. New York University Press:New York, p.28-32
* ^ "History of the Bodhran". thebodhranmaker.com. Retrieved
* ^ A B Karen Farrington: The Music, Songs & Instruments of
Ireland, London: PRC Publishing Ltd., 1998, pp. 62-71.
* ^ Jacob Pool, 1867
* ^ A B C D E Driver, Nicholas (1978). Nicholas Driver's Bodhran &
Bones Tutor. Suffolk, UK: (self-published).
* ^ Éireann, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí. "Comhaltas: Bodhrán: its
origin, meaning and history". comhaltas.ie. Retrieved 2017-09-08.
Margaret Ann Courtney and
Thomas Quiller Couch . 1880. Glossary
of Words in Use in Cornwall. London: The English Dialect Society,
Trübner & Co., 1880, p. 16. Accessed at
https://archive.org/details/glossarywordsin00quilgoog, September 11,
* ^ Mark Heiman, Loomis House Press: FTX-408 -
* Nicholas Driver "The Bodhran", English Dance and Sing 40/1 1978 p15 * Bond, Lahri. "The Celtic Heartbeat of Arcady". Dirty Linen. Archived from the original on 2005-08-28. Retrieved 2006-01-06. (interview with Johnny McDonagh) * "Styles of Playing for the Bodhrán". Ceolas celtic music archive. Retrieved 2006-01-06.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to BODHRáNS .
* DMOZ Bodhran