Bodhrán

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The bodhrán (pronounced /ˈbɔrɑːn/[1] or /ˈbaʊrɑːn/; plural bodhráns or bodhráin) is an Irish frame drum ranging from 25 to 65 cm (10" to 26") in diameter, with most drums measuring 35 to 45 cm (14" to 18"). The sides of the drum are 9 to 20 cm (3½" to 8") 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 an allen wrench that the bodhrán skins are tightened or loosened depending on the atmospheric conditions.

Contents

History

There is evidence that during the Irish rebellion of 1603 (Tyrone's rebellion) the bodhrán was used by the Irish forces as a battle drum[citation needed], or that the drum provided a cadence for the pipers and warriors to keep to, as well as to announce the arrival of the army. This leads some to think that the bodhrán was derived from an old Celtic war drum. Seán Ó Riada declared the bodhran to be the native drum of the Celts, with a musical history that predated Christianity.[2]

Name

Third-generation bodhrán maker Caramel Tobin asserts that the name bodhrán means "skin tray"; he also suggests a link with the Irish word bodhor, meaning soft, or dull sounding.[3] Another theory asserts its name is derived from the similar Irish word bodhar, meaning deaf. A relatively new introduction to Irish music, the bodhrán has largely replaced the role of the tambourine, suggesting another possible origin for bodhrán's name from the abbreviation "'bourine".

Possible antecedents

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