Friday, March 16, 2012

The Surprising History of the Bodhran


Carrying on from yesterday's post . . . it's easy to assume that the bodhran is an ancient Celtic drum used by the Irish since time immemorial and indeed, many claims have been made to that effect. But research shows that the bodhran originated and was used in years past simply as an agricultural implement -- a handy tray made of wood and goatskin in which to carry peat or grain. Perhaps it was occasionally used as a drum if loud noise was needed for whatever reason, but that was certainly not its intended purpose.

No, the bodhran is a purely modern musical instrument, first seriously played as a drum in the mid-1960s. When the huge renaissance of Irish music started in the 1970s, Celtic bands like The Chieftans brought the bodhran to prominence. Huge strides have since been made to refine the bodhran's manufacture and drumming techniques. It's impossible now to imagine Celtic music without the bodhran and its distinctively authentic sound!

So the bodhran is not an ancient instrument after all -- but aren't stories always better with a wee bit of the blarney?

13 comments:

Jane said...

Very interesting & a wee bit disappointing - I preferred assuming it was an ancient instrument... !

Plowing Through Life said...

That is very interesting, especially since I just discovered this instrument yesterday on your blog! The plot thickens...

Ashling said...

Well, it still has an ancient history, even if it was for more mundane purposes. The Bodhran gives me chills, resonates in my soul. Thanks for passing along this info.

mxtodis123 said...

You never know, do you? Thanks for sharing that with us. I'd never have guessed.
Mary

Snap said...

Bring on the Blarney! :D :D

Francie said...

I refuse to believe that Debra. I'm sure its origins were lost in the mists of Druidic time. Jeesh! Finn McCool would be shocked I'm sure.

Jeanne said...

HA!!! I thought it looked familiar! The Cajuns in Louisiana used something very similar to remove husks from mature rice.
And yes, a wee bit of blarney is always good! :0)

Kathy said...

Very interesting. I had thought it was an ancient instrument as well. Good to know the truth of the matter.

laurie said...

oh yes they are, a little bit of the blarney never goes a miss.

laughingwolf said...

indeed they be! ;)

looks very similar to the drums of the inuit, and some of our first nations folk - both groups play differently from each other, and, of course, the irish....

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

I think there was more to it than just appearing in the 60's..that's my story and I'm sticking to it.ha

Cinner said...

Very interesting, happy St. Patricks day, have a great weekend.

Holly said...

Deb:
My step-daughter plays a bodhran..a lovely purple one. She's become quite attached to the Irish music scene in Pittsburgh...actually goes by the name Molly Mac...even though her name is Melissa...ah a stage name of sorts. Anyhow, she thinks of herself as very Irish...although with a last name like Frock which is a Heinz 57 sort of heritage, I always just shake my head.

Reading this about the bodhran being a relatively new invention only adds another layer to this whole thing for me!