Bodhrán-Releated Literature


There are some good books and instructional tapes available. I'm sure there are more than I have listed here; do you know any others?


Robin Adnan Anders, Percussion of the World (video).
This video, by the drummer for Boiled in Lead and 3 Mustaphas 3, runs 1 hr., 15 min., and shows techniques for ceramic and metal doumbek, tambourine, tar, muzhar, tabla, bodhrán, pandero, and tupan. The bodhrán section is presented by Todd Menton, Barry Hall found it very useful. However, I have heard from Glen Velez and other professional framedrummers that the other sections are very poor. The video is available from Mid-East Manufacturing ($20), which produced it jointly with a company on the west coast.

Chris Caswell, How to Play the Bodhrán.
This tape is available from Andy's Front Hall and Lark in the Morning. It describes itself thus: This tape will teach you its illusive technique in a clear, step-by-step way. Each element is shown by itself and most are also demonstrated within the context of a full tune. Also included are numerous tips for advanced playing. In addition, you will learn the basics of bones, spoons and the exciting Scottish Snare.

Andy writes The playing technique is shown in a clear, step-by-step way. Primary rhythm of rell and jig times are covered along with many of their variations. Also included are damping, two-on-three rhythm, and numerous tips for advanced playing.

Joan DiBlasi, Bodhran 101-derful
Available from DiBlasi for $10.

Nicholas Driver, Nicholas Driver's Bodhrán & Bones Tutor.
Published by Hobgoblin Music. Also available from Andy's Front Hall. Andy writes This 26-page book covers the basics of bodhrán and bones playing with brief histories and maintenance instruction for each instrument.

Mance Grady, Playing the Irish Drum: Getting Started.
Grady sells this video direct for $30. He says that it demonstrates the fundamentals of playing the bodhrán.

Steaphan Hannigan, The Bodhrán Book.
1991: Ossian Publications, Ltd. (PO Box 84, 40 MacCurtain St, Cork, Ireland, phone (021) 502040 Fax 502025 or phone 300350 Fax 300352). Sold with a demo cassette. Musical example techniques and historical notes. Mark Stone recommends this book. Available from Buck Musical Instruments, Andy's Front Hall, and Hobgoblin Music, Celtic Trader, House of Musical Traditions. Also available from Ossian Publications (PO Box 84, Cork, Ireland). Andy writes Instruction covers reels, jigs, triplets, rim playing, hornpipes, slip jigs, marches, and polkas. There is a section on history, manufacture, care and maintenance.

Hannigan invites people to contact him at

Steaphan Hannigan, Bodhrán Basics.
Ossian Publications, Ltd.

Gregory Carr of Read Ireland describes it Complete pack with illustrated 32 page booklet, crammed with features, diagrams and examples. Demo cassette included, playing all the techniques discussed in the book, plus traditional tunes to play along with. Also available from Read Ireland, for 8 punt (about US $14).

Steaphan Hannigan, The Bodhrán Video.
A companion to the book and cassette. Hannigan's tutor takes nothing for granted, offering numerous examples and exercises for playing slip jigs, hornpipes, polkas, marches; and shows playing hand styles and various non-traditional styles. Available from Buck Musical Instruments and Hobgoblin Music. Also available from Ossian Publications (PO Box 84, Cork, Ireland). Mark Stone recommends this video.

Steaphan Hannigan, The Bodhrán Video: Advanced Techniques.
Available in PAL and NTSC versions from Ossian Publications.

Tommy Hayes, Bodhrán, Bones, and Spoons (video)
Hayes' video is available from Leo Doherty, (800) 541-5004, from House of Musical Traditions, and from Rikki's Music Shop. It is an excellent tutorial on the bodhrán, covering several styles of play and lots of techniques. I recommend it.

John B. Keane, The Bodhrán Makers.
Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland ; Wolfeboro, N.H., U.S.A. : Brandon Book Publishers, 1986. 353 p. LCN PR6061.E2 B34 1986
1st American ed. New York : Vanguard Press, 1988, 1986.
2nd American ed. New York : Four Walls Eight Windows, 1992. 353 p. LCN PR6061.E2 B34 1992

There is an accompanying sound recording, published by RTE in Ireland.

Robert Kirkland wrote this brief review: The story takes place in western Ireland in early to mid 1950s and deals with life in a small village and the rural inhabitants. The local canon is the central antagonist. He is an austere man who forbids the wren dance. The local wren boys attempt to have the dance is secret but the old canon catches on. There may not be a great deal of action in the novel but it presents a marvelous picture of the people. The characters seem very genuine and believable to me and it is not hard to get caught up in their trials and tribulations. Inherent to the story is the bodhrán. The author continualy alludes to it and sets it as the major intrument of the wren dance. In fact, it becomes a symbol for the heartbeat of the impoverished rural farmers. Once section of the novel deals with the rural patriarch of the wren boys and his method of making a very special bodhrán. ... Although not a technical nor an instructional book, I would recommend [this] novel ... It offers some insight into the history and culture of the bodhrán and is at the same time a fine story."

Malachy Kearns, Wallup!, Roundstone Musical Instruments, 1996 (ISBN 0-9528788-0-1)
6 punt in Ireland, $9.00 in the US, $17.00 shipped to the US.

Lynn Hughes reviewed it for me. She called it A charming little book... Anecdotal, not a tutor, but a collection of rambling and humorous reminiscences of interest to anyone who plays or who is connected with Irish music. He describes the difficulty of obtaining suitable goat skins, speaks of donkey-hide bodhráns as harsh sounding and says that the one or two that he has made of sealskin sound "eerie."

Janet E. McCrickard, The Bodhrán (ISBN 1-870500-15-6).
Richard Griffiths pointed me to this book, which he picked up at a local festival. It is available from Kevin O'Connell.

'.....and what is that drum thing? This book goes some way towards answering the question; but the history of the bodhrán is very obscure. Ms Crickard has gathered together scattered fragments and included all speculations - whether reasoned or reckless - which are most commonly offered to account for the drums existence. She is neither Irish, nor a musician, nor a musicologist, this book necessarily reflects this perspective.'

Beautifully hand calligraphed and illustrated, covering the bodhrán's basis as a skin tray, various tales, relationship to other frame drums, making and playing, plus a useful list of books, makers, and suggested recordings.

Mel Mercier with Seamus Egan, Bodhrán and Bones.
Available from Andy's Front Hall. Dirty Linen wrote: Slow Motion photography, on screen musical notation and performances sections... all add to the overall excellence of this video. The video was produced and is offered by Interworld Music; their catalogue includes this review: This is the most effective and musical method for playing the bodhrán and the bones. Traditional and innovative techniques, essential Irish rhythms and dance forms, and in depth demonstrations of the elusive bodhrán and bones rolls will have you jigging and reeling lke a pro.

Andy's catalogue is equally effusive: Here is the most musical method on the bodhrán and bones. This video includes essential dance forms and rhythmic patterns, traditional and innovative techniques, plus an in-depth demonstration of the "roll" stroke.

Robin M. Smith, Power Bodhrán Techniques: A New Approach to the Celtic Drum.
Robin Smith, P.O. Box 240803, Memphis, TN 38124-0803 phone: (901) 726-5894. e-mail:

Robin Smith posted an article to on 25 Mar 95 in which he offered his book by direct order for $10, and announced that he is producing a follow-up video which will be available from him for $25. He wrote:

All prices are postpaid... mention Internet and get a free cassette of my famous power bodhran solos!!! My new approach techniques make bodhrán playing easier to learn and more fun to do. Learn to please, not tease, the audience! Be heard in good form! I want to help you be the best drummer more drummer jokes! We are in control... with Power Bodhrán Techniques!

The book is also available through Mid-East Mfg. and Distant Caravansfor $8.

Mícháel O Súilleabháin, The Bodhrán : an easy to learn method for the complete beginner, showing the different regional styles and techniques
Dublin : Waltons Musical Instrument Galleries Ltd., 1984. 25 p. LCN MT725.B55 O2 1984

The publisher's address is 2/5 N. Frederick St., Dublin 1. Tel 747805. Also available from Buck Musical Instruments, Andy's Front Hall, and Lark in the Morning.

A good book for a beginner learning the basic techniques of the bodhrán. It starts with a short history of the bodhrán, moves into a description of basic methods, with pictures and lessons, and then discusses alternate methods and modern techniques. O Súilleabháin is a professor of Irish music and a pianist and composer of great note.

Tony Sullivan, Learn to Play the Bodhrán.
Celtic Cultures, Andy's Front Hall, Hobgoblin Music, Lark in the Morning and carry this tutoring book and cassette. Stuart of Celtic Cultures has very kindly sent me a copy to review; I'll post my comments as soon as I can. Andy's catalogue says This is a combination cassette tape and booklet. Instructions are included for playing Irish jigs, reels, polkas, hornpipes and waltzes. Easy-to-follow instructions in the booklet are demonstrated on the tape which contains basic rhythms and 21 practice tunes played on banjo and flute.

Thistle and Shamrock, program 494, Skin & Bone (12 November 1992)


Books, tapes, and videos on other kinds of percussion can be found on the Middle Eastern percussion page lists of books, recordings, and videos; and in the list of method books and the bibliography of percussion on the the Drum and Percussion Page.



Return to the
Bodhrán home page.

Part of the Ceolas
celtic music archive

Josh Mittleman

Last updated 19 Jan 2000