Pulse Generator of Irish Folkmusic

Bodhrán is the name for the type of frame drum used in Irish folkmusic. It consists of a wooden frame with a diameter of 20 to 50 cm. Many models have a wooden handle that runs through the frame like a transversal or T-shaped spoke. This was originally introduced to stabilize the frame against the tension of the head. Whether or not it is used to hold the drum, depends on the preferences of the musician. In addition, today's Bodhráns usually have tuning mechanisms, which can be used to adjust the tension of the head.

Name and origin

The name "Bodhrán" is Gaelic, derived from the old word "bodhar", which means something like deaf, numb, dazed or dull. In the form "bodharaí" it also describes the hollow tone of a drum. The instrument is named after its sound. The term "bodhrán" has been documented since the fifteenth century, but generally did not refer to a frame drum. Only since the 19th century has the term been used in this sense. How the drum came to Ireland is not fully understood. It could be a modification of the tambourine, which came to the island through trade relations. Other theories suggest that this may have been an agricultural device for winnowing or drying wool.

Playing Technique

The Bodhrán is typically played while sitting - especially when it has no handle. It stands erect on the thigh. One hand (in the case of right-handers the left one) is inserted into the drum where, by touching the skin in different places, pitch and sound characteristics can be varied. It can also be played standing. Sometimes the musicians even move around the stage with their bodhran.

The bodhran is struck with a small wooden beater. Two playing techniques are particularly widespread: If the beater is held in the middle or at one end and played with both ends directly above the head, it is the Kerry or West Limerick style. If the beater is held sideways so that only one end is over the head, then one is playing top-end style. Many players are not limited to one style; mixed forms are quite common.

Regarding the stroke, a distinction is made between the upstroke and the downstroke. Through various combinations and embelishments, in which the beater is moved back and forth, the typical sound of the bodhran arises. Various beaters are available for different techniques and effects. Over the course of time a colorful variety of designs has developed. In addition to wood, other materials are now also used. A wide selection can be found in our shop.

Those who would like to  buy a bodhran, will find a great selection of various instruments here in our shop.