Not only was this missing from Everything, but the OED drew a blank, too: They've got "bodging", "Bodhisattva", and "bodice" all in a row, no "bodhran" in sight. My faith is shook. Go figure. Well, at least they've got "planxty" and "boreen" (and "bohreen", too, which is the same word as "boreen") (nothing to do with Niels Bohr, by the way).

A bodhran (pron. with a silent 'h', something like "borrun") is a single-headed Irish goat-skin hand drum, held more or less vertically by a cruciate (cruciform?) framework extending across the back. The bodhran is beaten with the two ends of double-ended drumstick, called a "cipin" (pron. "ki-peen") or "tipper". I seem to recall having read somewhere that the beater was traditionally made of bone, but nowadays wood seems to be the usual thing. The drum itself is (roughly) between fifteen and twenty-four inches in diameter, and two to six inches deep. Varying sources give varying measurements.

This is the muffled, rapidly struck drum often heard in traditional Irish instrumental music; at a faster tempo, it's almost like a deep rattling. It's wonderfully propulsive when done right. The word "can be translated as 'tray' or 'thundered,' 'deafening' or 'dull sounding' "1 in the Irish language.

References: 1 (Nifty page! Much information!)


The bodhran web ring: