Bodhran History

The bodhran is a handheld frame drum that originated in Ireland. It's size can vary but is usually around 18" in diameter. The body consists of a circular wooden (or plastic) frame with a goatskin (or a synthetic material) head on one side and the other is left 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, may be inside the frame.

How long the bodhran has been around is up to some debate though the earliest recording of their existence was in the 1700s. They were used both for musical accompaniment and a war drum.

Bodhrans can be played with three main hand styles and five main stick styles. In each of the hand styles, the right hand is used to strike the head of the drum, while the left hand is spread across the back of the skin to modulate the resulting pitch. The hand styles differ in how the striking is achieved, which parts of the hand � knuckles, fingers or palm � are used, and how many fingers are used.

In stick styles of playing, a stick (called either a tipper or cipin) is used to produce the sound. A stick may have one or two heads, and may be struck straight or rolled on to the surface of the drum skin. The most common playing style is called the called Kerry style. It is played with a two-headed stick. The bottom head is used to produce the rhythmic beat of the tune, while the top head produces ornamentations and rolls.


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