Talking Bodhrán

This version of the BODdrum was developed in collaboration with renowned bodhrán player Cormac Byrne, whose enthusiasm comes bursting through his description of the product:

Cormac Byrne performing with the Talking Bodhrán photo Tom Griffiths

“Find Your New Voice”

Imagine for a moment the possibility of crossing a bodhrán with the African Talking Drum and the Indian Tabla (Baya). 

Imagine if this drum had a skin that you could change, by yourself, in less than 10 minutes, easily and cheaply; a skin that would not be sensitive to temperature and humidity and would stay in tune both outdoors and indoors

… the Cormac Byrne Talking Bodhrán™ does all this and more.

The bodhrán is showing no sign of slowing down as this humble frame drum continues to gain popularity around the world at an extraordinary rate. And musicians from other genres are taking notice. Bodhrán players are being asked more and more to move into new territories of music: Indian, Classical, Pop, World Music, Jazz. This has certainly been the case for me; it requires a new approach and puts extra demands on the player to expand both their musical ideas and repertoire of sounds.

This move became the catalyst for an exciting venture: a three-year collaboration between myself and BOD (Blackwell Original Drums). We set out to create a bodhrán that would sound equally at home in a traditional Irish session as it would on stage playing Indian or African or other World music. The results were better than we could have imagined… the Cormac Byrne Talking Bodhrán™ was born.

With a crafted aluminium frame and a special synthetic custom drumhead made by Evans, the Talking Bodhrán™ utilises a uniquely shaped handheld metal ‘Sound Bar’. This is used on the back of the drum head to produce incredibly warm bass tones that mimic the Indian Tabla Baya (lower drum) as well as lively mid-range tones that can bend and change to mimic vocal tones in much the same way as the West African Talking Drum. The original concept of the Sound Bar was derived from one very specific pint glass. We took the shape and developed and refined it over time, eventually deciding to produce it in aluminium. The Talking Bodhrán can be played with or without the Sound Bar and both methods produce a very different soundscape.

Specifications:

  • Size: 14” x 4”
  • Handmade in England by Blackwell Original Drums (BOD)
  • 14” custom Talking Bodhrán drum head by Evans
  • 3mm aluminium shell
  • Hand-painted custom airbrush finish to automotive standard

Comes with the following accessories:

  • Powder-coated aluminium Sound Bar
  • Cormac Byrne Hybrid ‘BODHROD’ stick as standard, handmade in Germany by Stevie Moises from maple and walnut
  • Tuning wrench
  • Protection Racket soft case

The expressive and creative possibilities with this drum are endless. For such a small drum, it is capable of producing jaw-dropping rich, deep bass tones and beautiful crisp highs. But the real excitement lies in the fact that it possesses the holy grail of mid-tones that have to be heard to be believed… they really do ‘speak’.

The Talking Bodhrán™ will perform brilliantly acoustically. When mic’d up, this adds a whole new dimension and is bursting with life and response. When using the Sound Bar, you have the added ability to get longer, more sustained notes that are normally not possible with a traditional bodhrán. This lends itself beautifully to slower tracks.

“This is not a Bodhrán, this is a Talking Bodhrán”

For me, it will never replace my bodhrán. But that was never the intention. It sits alongside the traditional bodhrán in my setup. I see it as a different instrument. The beauty of the Talking Bodhrán is that you can use normal bodhrán technique to play it. It plays and feels the same. If you already play the bodhrán you will find it easy to transfer your skills onto this drum and find a whole new voice.

It has been an incredibly creative and rewarding journey in developing this new drum and an equally creative journey in discovering its potential working with musicians across many genres. I’m very excited to introduce a brand new sound to the vast world of percussion. I have found an entirely new voice with this instrument and I hope you will too.

Enjoy,
Cormac

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