Tunes to play on a bodhran

Bodhran’s History

The iconic Irish drum the bodhran, is one of a few Celtic instruments that predate Christianity. We are all familiar with Ireland’s rich and deep-rooted musical heritage. What do we know about the distinctive Irish drum?

Although the bodhran drum has been around for thousands of years, its first appearances were in paintings in the early nineteenth century. In contemporary culture, recordings of the drum began to make their way onto the music scene in 1960s.

Many genres use the bodhran, including the one below.

  • Classical music: Maxwell Davies Symphony No. 5
  • Contradance music: Hillbillies, Swallowtails from Mars
  • Folk: John Lionarons Philadelphia, PA
  • Rock: Jim Sutherland and Johnny McDonagh, Cordelia’s Dad
  • Tammerlin: World music

What is the Bodhran Drum?

The bodhran has been a part of Ireland’s culture since its popularity. Modern Irish music now includes the Irish drum. This adds a sense of authenticity to those with strong Irish heritage connections.

How to play a Bodhran ?

There are many ways to play the bodhran drum. A tipper is a small, double-ended drumstick that is used to play the bodhran. The tipper is much smaller than traditional drumsticks and allows the bodhran player to create many musical sounds.

Kerry Style – With the Kerry style, both ends of the tipper’s hand are used. The tipper is held with the dominant hand by the player who holds the drum on one knee. The person can create a stunning sequence of beats by twisting and fluttering their hands.

West Limerick This style uses only one tipper and sounds more like traditional drumsticks.

Hand The hand is used for striking the bodhran. The heel creates a loud beat while the flat of your palm makes soft sounds. With gentle taps and slides as well as hard rapping, the fingers are also in play.


  1. Thanks for writing this Lawrence.

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