The bodhran is undoubtedly one of the most iconic instruments in Irish music hailing from the beautiful country of Ireland. It is also one of the most difficult to pronounce for non-native speakers due to its spelling. Many people struggle to find the correct way of pronouncing this instrument’s very Irish name, but in this article, you will learn the proper Irish bodhran pronunciation.
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The Meaning of “Bodhran”
The word bodhran is believed to have first appeared around the 17th century from a translation of a medical document called Rosa Anglica. The word is an Irish word which simply means “drum” or “tambourine”. Given the bodhran’s appearance, it’s easy to see how it got its name. Other variances of this word’s etymology include ties to the phrase “tray of skin”, “dull” and even “deaf” as it is believed to be linked to the word bodhar which means “dull” or “deaf”.
Common Mispronunciations of “Bodhran”
Among English speakers, particularly Americans, the temptation is to pronounce “bodhran” as “bod-rawn” or “bod-ran” because of the misleading letter “d” present in the word. Others pronounce the word as “boo-ran” or “boh-rawn“.
The Proper Irish Bodhran Pronunciation
Since the bodhran’s origin is Irish, it’s only logical that the proper pronunciation of bodhran is the Irish way. If you’re not living in Ireland, it can be difficult to figure out this pronunciation, but thankfully the internet is able to show us exactly how the natives in Ireland pronounce it:
The first syllable is “bow”, as in the bow of a ship or what a performer does after a performance, while the second syllable is “rawn”, as in Ron Burgundy or Ron Howard.
If you’re not convinced that this is the proper way to pronounce bodhran, and you insist on keeping that “d” in your bodhran pronunciation, watch this video for yourself to hear the proper bodhran pronunciation from an Irish gal:
You can also hear the very Irish Colm O’Donnell sing “Bodhran Song” here:
Bodhran Pronunciation Tip
Here’s a simple and very silly tip in case you forget how to pronounce bodhran: try and imagine a cow standing in front of you wearing a name tag with the name Ron written on it.
Now imagine the cow extends its hoof towards you and says, “Hi! My name’s Ron!”
The result? Since the first syllable rhymes with “cow” and the last syllable sounds like “Ron”, you now have the perfect example of how to pronounce bodhran standing before you: A cow named Ron, or Cow-Ron.
Is this silly? Yes, but now you’ll never forget how to pronounce bodhran again!
- Mittleman, J. (1999, March 30). Linguistics of Bodhrán-related Words. Retrieved December 15, 2015, from http://www.ceolas.org/instruments/bodhran/linguistics.shtml
- Bodhrán (how to pronounce it). (2006, June 24). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dalrvLStYlc
- Fleadh Thír Eoghain – Bodhrán Song. (2010, June 22). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RUE01N1VK0