The bodhran is an old type of Irish drum which varies from 25 to 65 cm in diameter. In one side, a goatskin head is placed, and the other side is open ended so one hand can be placed against the inside of the drum head in order to control the timbre and pitch.
The instrument is played in a seated position, held vertically and supported by the player’s upper body and arm. The hand is placed on the inside of the skin in order to control the pitch and timbre by applying varying amounts of pressure.

There are some modern instruments which integrate mechanical tuning systems similar to those used on drums. A hex key is used to tighten or loosen the bodhran skins.
There are six to twelve tuning screws which are used to move a ring which presses against the skin, allowing the drummer to change the pitch by tightening or loosening the skin.

Traditionally these instruments were made with sheepskin, greyhound skin and goatskin. It is said that the skins were prepared by burying them in lime for weeks, and then soaking them in a river in order to wash away the hair. In modern bodhrans, skins from deer, calf, buffalo, reindeer and donkeys are used.

According to Ronan Nolan, this instrument evolved during the 19th century from the tambourine. It was first introduced into traditional music in the 1960s, and become common in the 1970s. There are different opinions on the origin of the bodhran. Some people believe that it originated in Africa, and some others believe that it originated in Central Asia.

The Bodhran is used in different music genres but it is commonly found in Irish folk music. A lot of people are known for playing these instruments, such as Bobby Clancy, Caroline Corr, Kevin Conneff, Kevin Crawford etc.

At Varsity music we provide a great range of new and used bodhrans available to buy online. They are the best on the market and serviced by our trained musicians.

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