top of page
  • Writer's pictureRhythmatist

Irish frame drum Bodhran

The appearance of the Irish Bodhran might lead many to assume that it is similar to frame drums that have similar appearance like the Tar of Egypt/Turkey. However, the Tar and most other frame drums have very light skins that give a high ringing tone. Also most frame drums are played with light taps and slaps with the fingers.

The Bodhran is an entirely different animal. First of all, it is played with a double ended stick that is held like a pencil in the right hand. As the forearm is rotated back and forth, the bottom of the stick hits the head of the drum head on both the downstroke and the upstroke. With enough speed and relaxation, the top of the stick can also be made to hit the head between the downstroke and the upstroke causing a "roll" or "triplet" effect.

Another unique characteristic of the Bodhran is that the drummer places his left hand against the skin on the inside of the drum and pushes outward while playing to create pitch changes in the head while playing. The skin of the Bodhran actually stretches out of the frame by several centimeters while the pressure is applied. This is the reason that there are usually sticks that cross the frame of the Bodhran. These are anchors against which the wrist can get leverage to press the skin outward.

The pronunciation of the word Bodhran is actually "Bowran." Bill Woods, pictured left, explains that the "dh" sound is actually silent due to peculiarities of the Irish language.

10 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page