History of Bodhrans and Frame Drums

History of Bodhrans

To know more about the bodhran, one needs to understand the meaning of frame drum.

What is a Frame Drum?

A frame drum is a musical instrument that has been in existence for years. It is said to be the very first drum that was created.

The Frame drum is a round wooden frame that has rawhides as the drumhead. During spiritual ceremonies, men play the bigger frame drums while women play the medium size.

However, the frame drum can be decorated using jingles or mental rings. Examples of frame drums are Buben, Adufe, Crowdy-crawn, Dayereh, Ghaval, Dhyāngro, and Bodhran to name a few.

What is Bodhran?

The Bodhran is Irish hand-held frame drum which was initially used as a husk filter to separate the husks from the grains.

It was changed from husk filter to musical instrument by the Gaelic peasants by removing the mesh head and replacing it with stretched goat skin.

Here’s more basic about bodhran

Brief history of the Bodhran Handheld Drums

The bodhran is a Celtic origin handheld drum that has been around for thousands of years although no one has gotten accurate records of its existence.

Around the 1700s, the bodhrans were not only used as musical instruments but also as war drums.

The bodhran is a distinguished, one of a kind drum; it is at the center of the present day playing of traditional Irish music.

Evolution of the Bodhran and the Frame Drums

The bodhrán though one of the simple drums, it is related to the frame drums that has been spread across to northern Africa, America (Native Americans) from the Middle East.

It is also related to the Arabian and the Mediterranean musical instruments. One can still find a close resemblance of the bodhran to the Iranian daf.

Today, the bodhran is a famous drum in Ireland and has created beautiful sounds in the Celtic music industry such as Cape Breton, North mainland Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Scotland.

Components of the Bodhrans

The bodhran has no particular size of the drums, but the standard sizes are mostly eighteen inches in diameter. A typical bodhran body is made with wooden frame and goatskin as the drumhead.

However, the modern version of the bodhran has a mixture of plastic as the body and synthetic fiber as the drumhead. Some bodhrans have one or two crossbars inside the frame.

Ways to play the Bodhrans

There are two primary ways to play the bodhrans which are the hand style and the stick style. However, the hand style can be played in three different ways while there are five ways to play the bodhran using sticks.

In the three hand styles, the right hand is used for striking the top of the drum, and the left hand is placed across the below the skin to modulate the pitch.

The sticks are referred to as cipin or tipper; the stick may be rolled on the drumhead or simply struck straight to produce the sound.

There are two types of stick (tipper or cipin) the one-headed stick and the two-headed stick. The two-headed stick is used in playing the Kerry style, Kerry style is a common style.

It is important to note that in hand style, the fingers, palm, and knuckles play major role in producing different striking sounds.

The drumhead is responsible for producing the rolls and embellishments while the bottom produces rhythmic beats of the tune.