Tambourine: Wikis


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Pandei inter.jpg
Tambourine (interior view)
Percussion instrument
Other names Riq, Buben
Classification hand percussion
Hornbostel-Sachs classification 112.122(+211.311, with drumhead)
(Indirectly struck idiophone, sometimes including struck membranophone)
Playing range
High sound of jingles, plus some have a skin with a lower sound.
Related instruments
Riq, Buben, Dayereh, Daf, Kanjira, Frame drum
Girl playing a tambourine. Detail from Recreation (1896), by Charles Sprague Pearce. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

The tambourine or marine (commonly called tambo) is a musical instrument of the percussion family consisting of a frame, often of wood or plastic, with pairs of small metal jingles, called "zils". Classically the term tambourine denotes an instrument with a drumhead, though some variants may not have a head at all.

Tambourines come in many different shapes with the most common being circular It is found in many forms of music, Italian folk music, classical music, Roma music, Persian music, gospel music, pop music and rock music. The word tambourine finds its origins in the Middle Persian word tambūr "lute, drum" (via the Middle French tambour).



The tambourine can be held in the hand or mounted on a stand, and can be played in numerous ways, from stroking or shaking the jingles to striking it sharply with hand or stick or using the tambourine to strike the leg or hip. A less common way to play a tambourine is with the feet.

Tambourine rolls

There are several ways to achieve a tambourine roll. The easiest is to rapidly rotate the hand holding the tambourine back and forth, pivoting at the wrist.

The "thumb roll"

An advanced playing technique is known as the "thumb roll" when the finger or thumb is moved over the skin or rim of the tambourine producing a fast roll from the jingles on the instrument. This takes more skill and experience to master. The thumb of the hand not holding the tambourine is run around the head of the instrument approximately one centimetre from the rim with some pressure applied. If performed correctly, the thumb should bounce along the head rapidly, producing the roll.

The thumb roll technique can be made easier with the application of wax or resin to the head. A continuous roll can be achieved by moving the thumb in a figure of 8 pattern around the head, although this takes some practice to make it perfect.


Originated in Portugal, the pandeiro was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese settlers. It is a hand percussion instrument consisting of a single tension-headed drum with jingles in the frame. It is very typical of more traditional brazilian music


The Basque pandero is a folk instrument currently played along with the diatonic accordion in a duo most of the times. Sometimes the players, who play in festivities to enliven the atmosphere or less frequently at onstage performances, sing along. At times the pandero accompanies the alboka or txistu too. Yet this kind of duos have not always been the case. As attested in 1923, the youth gathered to dance to the rhythm of the bare pandero, with no other music instrument implicated but the player's (a woman's) voice.


Arabic riq

The riq (also spelled riqq or rik) is a type of tambourine used as a traditional instrument in Arabic music. It is an important instrument in both folk and classical music throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Widely known as "Shakers".


Buben (Бубен in Russian, Бубон in Ukrainian, boben in Slovenian, buben in Czech, bęben in Polish) is a musical instrument of the percussion family similar to a tambourine. A buben consists of a wooden or metal hoop with a tight membrane stretched over one of its sides (some bubens have no membrane at all). Certain kinds of bubens are equipped with clanking metal rings, plates, cymbals, or little bells. It is held in the hand and can be played in numerous ways, from stroking or shaking the jingles to striking it sharply with hand. It is used for rhythmical accompaniment during dances, soloist or choral singing. Buben is often used by some folk and professional bands, as well as orchestras.

The name is related to Greek language βόμβος (low and hollow sound) and βομβύλη (a breed of bees) and related to Indo-Aryan bambharas (bee) and English bee.

Buben is known to have existed in many countries since time immemorial, especially in the East. There are many kinds of bubens, including def, daf, or qaval (Azerbaijan), daf or khaval (Armenia), daira (Georgia), doira (Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), daire or def (Iran), bendeir (Arab countries), pandero (Spain). In Kievan Rus, drums and military timpani were referred to as buben.


A traditional Central Asian musician from the 1860s or 1870s, holding up his dayereh.

A dayereh (or doyra, dojra, dajre, doira, daire) is a medium-sized frame drum with jingles used to accompany both popular and classical music in Iran (Persia), the Balkans, and many central Asian countries such as Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It is a percussion instrument, and is something intermediate between a drum and a tambourine.


An Iranian woman playing a frame drum, from a painting on the walls of Chehel-sotoon palace, Isfahan, 17th century, Iran.

A daf is a large-sized tambourine used to accompany both popular and classical music in Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey (where it is called tef), Uzbekistan (where it's called childirma), India (where it is known as the Dafli) Turkmenistan, and Iranian Kurdistan. Daf typically indicates the beat and tempo of the music being played, thus acts like the conductor in the monophonic oriental music. The Persian poet Rudaki, who widely used names of the musical instruments in his poems, mentions the daf and the tambourine (taboorak) in a Ruba'i:


Kanjira drums

The kanjira or ganjira is a South Indian frame drum of the tambourine family. It is mostly used in Carnatic music concerts (South Indian classical music) as a supporting instrument for the mridangam.

See also

Tambourine without a drum head.

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Simple English

The tambourine is a well-known percussion instrument. It is often used in large orchestras but can also be used in marching bands and other music groups.

The tambourine looks like a small hand-held drum, but in addition to the skin (drumhead) which can be hit in various ways by the other hand or fingers, there are also small pairs of jingles - like tiny cymbals - which are fixed in slots around the frame. This is the usual kind used in orchestras. However, tambourines come in many shapes and forms. Some are made without a skin, particularly for use in schools. They are also found in various forms in many parts of the world. The tambourine came to Europe through the Arabs who brought it to Italy and Spain. They can be used in classical music as well as in pop music and rock music.

How to play a tambourine

The tambourine is usually held in the hand. The jingles can be made to sound by hitting the frame of the instrument with the other hand, or by shaking the instrument in various ways. Very often the player will hold the instrument high in the air. This not only looks good, but it can also be heard well. The other hand can tap rhythms on the skin which makes it sound like a drum as well as making the jingles sound. It can be hit by the knuckles, or with the finger tips, or the flat of the hand or the back of the hand. It can also be hit against the side of the leg. A good player with a good tambourine can sometimes create a nice effect with a "thumb roll". This is done by making the tip of the thumb slightly wet and then moving it fast along the edge of the skin so that the thumb bounces very fast.

It is also possible to put the instrument, with the head up, on the player's lap or on a table or chair, and play with the fingers or with drumsticks.

When a tambourine is used in an orchestra it is usually just one tambourine, although Berlioz asked for two tambourines in his overture Le carnaval romain. It is very often used in music which sounds Italian or Spanish. It nearly always makes music sound very lively, e.g. in the last movement of Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto.


  • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments - Könemann, ISBN-10: 3-8331-2195-5
  • Orchestration - Walter Piston (London 1965)

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