When I first saw a musician play a bodhran a decade ago it was love at first sight. The drum, not the player- whoever he was. Hearing a bodhran on album is one thing, but live it is absolutely breathtaking. The more skilled the player, the more amazing it can be to watch and hear.
Though a “simple” frame drum, it is an extremely versatile and intimate instrument. A bodhran’s sounds are rich and vibrant. Usually held close to the body with one hand, which also controls the tone, the other hand creates the beats. One can use either a tipper (drumstick) or one’s knuckle, which is traditional to the Acadian music style.
For years I wanted one, but the few I came across weren’t right. They were either too big or this and not that. Last May at an Irish music festival, I found my “just right”: 14 inch diameter, cross-barred, and with goatskin not plastic. That it sports Guinness and is made by Malachy Kearns was just a really big bonus.
I’m still in the “beginner” phase, picking up tips from other players or just observing and listening. Since I can’t play because my shoulder is screwy I figured I’d write about it. Maybe one of these days I’ll be as good as Abe Doron and Gal Shahar (below). Maybe?