How can this relative “mainstream” appeal of the tambourine in Western (US or British) pop music be explained, when compared to other (shaker) instruments, known as more “tropical” ones (maracas, cabasas, chekere)?
I do not know, but I would like to explore that in this post.
The origins of the tambourine as such are known to lie in the Middle East. Well, many “vaguely” know this, but the history of its spread is complex.
The English Wikipedia article about the tambourine seems to be quite certain that the instrument originated in Ancient Egypt, which is not only interesting, but also quite probable. They were there known as Tof among the ancient Hebrews, and were used in religious contexts. It is even mentioned in the Bible.
VAGUE AND CONFUSING ASPECTS
Origins and early spread
This Wikipedia article, however, has other vague aspects or omissions, compared to other information on the Internet. Maybe because it is not a very good or complete article. Elsewhere – in other sources - I read, after all, that the tambourine came from the Middle East, via North Africa, to Spain and Portugal, with the Moorish rule in Iberia (between the 8th and 15th c.). Again, quite probable, as so did other musical instruments, notably lutes, and the forerunner of what would become the Spanish guitar (which the Arabs in turn derived from Persian instruments). Other sources, however, date its arrival to Europe somewhat later, to the 13th c., and not per se via Iberia.
This explains why in Brazil types of tambourines, such as the “pandeiro”, are much used in popular music, as in other parts of Latin America. It also explains why many Spanish folk music genres include the “pandereta”, as the tambourine (with drum head and bells) is called in Spanish. Yet: it does not explain why it is similarly found in folk music in parts of Europe without that Moorish (or Arab/Islamic) past, such as Italy, France, the Basque country, but also Russia, and Ukraine. Somehow, its appeal made it spread, even when a direct cultural link seems absent.
Types and characteristics
Another confusing aspect is what the “tambourine” looks like, according to definitions. Originally the term was used for a frame drum with a drumhead (or: membrane), with bells on the side, hence also the name deriving from a diminutive of “tambor” (drum in Spanish), or “tambour” (in French). In Italy the tambourine is similarly known as “tamburello”. In the Provence there was also a drum of the name “tambourin”, ultimately giving the present-day its name. The Provençale language is linguistically related to Catalan, by the way. The word “tambor” in Spanish (and similar words in Portuguese, Catalan and Provençale) for “drum”, derives from Arabic “tunbur” (in turn derived from Persian) originally. The Spanish word for “tambourine” is “pandereta”, in turn linguistically related to the word “bendir” for similar frame drums in North Africa.
Frame drums or tambourines?
This brings us to another confusing aspect regarding its definition. I thought of it as a general circular frame drum with bells on the side So, a small drum with bells (or jingles, or cymbals). Yet, without the drumhead (membrane), as a round “jingle bell” so to speak, it also got known under the name “tambourine”. That double meaning I was aware of..
More confusing to me (also in the Wikipedia article) was the mix-up with other “frame drums”, even without the bells. I consider those personally rather as “frame drums”. They can have similar playing styles with fingers as such, but lack the bells defining the tambourine as a whole. For the sake of this blog article, I will define the tambourines as having the side bells. Those without them I consider as “frame drums”, and are not the main theme of this post.
Overall, the “tambourines” can be of different sizes, and tend to be round, most often.
The playing style of the most common tambourine in Western pop music includes beating on the side (hip) of the body, on the other hand, or just shaking the tambourine. Worldwide there are varied patterns and hand and finger uses and hits on the drumheads, dependent on genres and music cultures. The use of separate fingers recur throughout, hands as a whole, and in some cultures just the hand palm is used, or the tambourine is only shaken.
Rhythmically, it varies from more “monorhyhmic” musical cultures, to a bit more syncopated, “polyrhythmic”, or swinging ones. The Arabs, other Middle Easterners and Europeans have more monorhythmic cultures, and sub-Saharan Africans more “polyrhythmic” ones, but in parts of North Africa – such as among some Berber musicians – such polyrhythmic or “swinging” (Griot culture) influences got to show, as even in some Andalusian folk music, maybe due to African or later Latin American influences.
All this, makes the extensive use of the Pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine) in Afro-Brazilian music so interesting. It is a commonly used instruments there, thus in yet other musical contexts. It is commonly used in Samba, Chorro music (some call Chorro a more “sophisticated version of Samba), as well as to accompany Capoeira, along with other drums. These Afro-Brazilian genres share the 2/4 rhythmic base, as well as certain polyrhythmic characteristics, as much Afro-American music, especially with roots in the Congo or South Nigerian and Ghana regions (as most Afro-Brazilians, especially Congo/Angola and Yorubaland). Quite a step from its (probable) Middle-Eastern origins, via – as is said – Iberian (Portuguese and Galician) forerunners brought to Brazil by the Portuguese. The Pandeiro thus translated flexibly to different cultural and musical contexts.
To be clear, the pandeiro refers to the round frame drum with side bells or jingles; another small frame drum – but without bells – is also known in Brazilian music, but known as “tamborim”.
I asked someone I know who plays Afro-Brazilian music, including for Capoeira, and he explained to me how patterns he plays with the Pandeiro, on Samba, tend to be continuous, yet following the 2/4 rhythmic pattern and accents, in line with the other drums and instruments. In a subgenre of Samba, called Partido Alto – a distinct Pandeiro-playing style is employed, he also pointed out, having e.g. more slaps/hits on the drumhead/membrane, besides the cymbal shaking.
In Capoeira, he further explained, the Berimbau (musical bow) leads the rhythm that the other instruments, including drums, and often pandeiros, follow. It depends on choices by specific Mestres (“teachers”) in Capoeira schools, whether Pandeiros are used as accompaniment to the fight/dance Capoeira, though they tend to be common.
In Chorro music pandeiros are also used, while Chorro is a bit less rhythmically oriented than its relative Samba (wherein string instruments also tend to play rhythmically).
An interesting difference with Cuba, also, where I have been several times, but did seldom see tambourine-like instruments being played in music clubs (and I visited several). Mostly “maracas” had in Cuba the shaker function in music, instead, especially in Afro-Cuban music. Neither is the small frame drum without bells (or cymbals), as e.g. used in the Puerto Rican Plena genre, really used in Cuba. I guess those that like “jingly belly” or cymbal-like shaker sounds should check other percussive cultures than the Afro-Cuban, where it is largely absent. Originally at least. This is comparable to much of sub-Saharan Africa, especially those parts where Afro-Cubans tend to have their origins mostly (the Congo region, Yorubaland, the Calabar region).. There are some “jingle bell” shakers known in sub-Saharan Africa, also “foot bell shakers”, but they drown amidst the many other shakers (of e.g. seeds).
Ned Sublette says something interesting in this regard, in his book ‘Cuba and its music : from the first drums to the mambo’ (Chicago Review Press, 2004), in relation to the spread of Afro-Cuban music to higher (White, Euro-centric) often slave-owning classes within Cuba. “..the rhythms were taken up but were shifted over from the drum to the tambourine, an instrument not associated with the vileness of the negro..”. These adapted/watered down Afro-Cuban rhythms developed since around the 18th c., and reached Argentina, and Europe (e.g. Spain, in the Habanera pattern) too.
That cultural difference between (hand) drums as African, and tambourine (European) in the quote of Sublette above, is interesting, and in fact recurring historically here and there, though it is also a somewhat simplistic distinction. The Brazilian Pandeiro, for one, obfuscated that distinction. Black Churches later too.
In Spain – the tambourine has – on the other hand - a long history, similar to Middle Eastern and Arab cultures. It at least goes back to the Moorish rule since the 8th c., but might have been there before (Phoenicians, Romans). It is used in various folk music forms throughout Spain, with special variants per region.
Spanish folklorists argue that the Northern half of Spain specialized for some reason a bit stronger in tambourines in its folk music than more Southern parts, but also in parts of the Central Meseta (highland) of Castile and León, and of the South (e.g. Andalusia) tambourines are quite common, albeit often less “central” in percussion than in some North Spanish forms. After all, hand-clapping and castanets – along with drums –have rhythmic functions in Jota and Fandango there too, and in South-Spanish Flamenco even feet and guitar cases.
In Northwest Spain, Galicia, a region with Celtic influences, a local tambourine (with own characteristics, such as crossed bells) developed (similar to one in Northern Portugal) and often combines with bagpipes, as in bordering Northern Portugal. More with string instruments in Central and Southern Portugal.
In the Basque country, a local tambourine called “panderoa” is used in Basque folk forms, usually combined with an accordion. The playing style in Basque music is relatively fast – with much 16th or even 32th notes (shaken) – and continuous.
In Central and Southern Spain the tambourine combines sometimes with the castanets, some drums, and guitars, and is sometimes slower, but mostly less “continuous”, having more often “closed patterns”, or emphasizing a main beat. It often interrelates with castanets, resulting in syncopation, in e.g. the Sevillana style, and other Andalusian or Extremaduran forms .. Syncopation is a bit less common in European folk music – which tends to be mostly “monorhythmic” as Arab music -, but might be an influence from the Moorish past (when there were also enslaved sub-Saharan Africans in Spain), or from Latin America and Cuba.
Overall, the tambourine's use is a bit more extensive in the Northern half of Spain, which may relate (as I learned from earlier studies) to the presence of instruments in South Spain in turn less common in North Spain, including percussion instruments that can take up the tambourine's "time keeping" role. These include the wooden castanets (though also known in Central Spain), certain bells, and a friction drum, known as "zambomba", aside from the Spanish guitar, originating in Andalusia, that can be played rhythmicallly too, and the "colonial" influence over time, e.g. the increased commonality of the (originally Afro-Peruvian) "cajon" (box drum) as time-keeper in much Flamenco. The castanets can be found in some subtypes of Flamenco, but in most not, and likewise the tambourine is not absent, but neither very "essential" or common, in South Spanish Flamenco music.
ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE
Some parts of Italy use local (smaller and larger) types of tambourines in regional styles like in South Italy, including in the well-known and popular South Italian Tarantella music genre and dance (originally from Apulia, spread all over southern Italy, Calabria, Sicily, including Naples). Like in the Basque country and South France, it often combines there with an accordion, or other drums, though with own patterns, Tarantella being a distinct (and lively) genre of its own.
It is also known in folk music of Sardinia, where it combines with a local type of flute, and other parts of Italy.
Another sign of the tambourine’s flexibility: it combines with different instruments, even in small combinations (bagpipes or accordion in North Spain, guitar and castanets in Central and South Spain, accordion and other drums in Italy and France).
This made me curious about with what instruments it combined elsewhere, or when only with vocals.
ASIA & NORTH AFRICA
In the Arab and Middle Eastern world, the “riq” (a tambourine in the classic sense) is a common and much used instrument, often even a main, “leading” percussion instrument. It usually combines with string instruments, like the Oud in Egypt and other parts of North Africa, including violins, or with (clay or stone) kettle drums like the darbuka, and vocals.
The playing styles of variants of tambourines differ again elsewhere in the Middle East, or South India and Sri Lanka, though also mostly monorhythmic, as Arabic music. In Sri Lanka, local tambourines tend to combine with local types of double-headed drums, including the Dholuk, also found in India. They respond of course to respective musical cultures, such as the complex Indian musical systems, making it for the untrained ear difficult to recognize straight rhythms, even when one is able to in even polyrhythmic Africa. Indian and Sri Lankan music is complex structurally, but not so much rhythmically, to put it simply (often basic beats).
In Jewish culture, the tambourine now known as Timbel has a long history, even connected to the tambourine’s very origins in Egypt. This also shows the “flexible route” of the tambourine over time. It once was used in religious, liturgical contexts, often therefore relatively slow and “solemn”, quite different from the connection to its use with fast dance and secular folk music, as we saw in other places.
The religious use of tambourines continue in the Islamic world, as they are still sometimes played during Quran recitations, as well as among the Christians, as the Salvation Army more or less popularized its use, that spread also to other Protestant and Evangelist churches, accompanying songs of praise. With that we now ended up in North America.
Likewise interesting, is the tambourine’s following journey after going from religious to secular, namely to a modern Anglo-Saxon world of “pop” music in North America: US folk music, R&B-influenced “Rock”, but even to even “whiter” Country & Western music.
US BLACK MUSIC
As said, starting with the Salvation of Army, several Protestant Churches, including Black ones in the US South, began to use tambourines much. It thus continued its original religious function in Egypt and among ancient Hebrews, though its easy use and small size might have played a role too. It thus obtained a common place in Gospel and early Soul, and with many African Americans escaping the openly racist US South, traveled to the cities in the North (New York, Detroit, Chicago, Philadephia a.o.).
There is an interesting parallel here with the harmonica or “mouth-organ”. The small metal wind instrument the harmonica, that became common in Blues, is actually of South German and Austrian origin, played there to fit local Tyrolean and other genres, often with accordions for instance. With German migrants to the US (many from South West Germany) it arrived in the US, also in parts where many (poor) African Americans lived. The latter appreciated its flexibility, practical size and, moreover, relative affordability. The playing style in “Country Blues” and later “City Blues” became of course markedly different than from the harmonica’s use in the German, European music.
Similarly, the tambourine was played differently by African Americans, than before. The tambourines became even a trademark in the sound of Motown, as I wrote elsewhere on my blog. Its link to the Black Churches – and Gospel - made it apparently popular and appreciated. Some within Motown thought it was a good idea to, besides adding a kind of pleasant “shuffle” or “swing”, also emphasize the main beat accent with that tambourine too. Apparently, Motown owner Berry Gordy thought that too. I do not really agree with that (preferring a bare, sharp “snare” drum hit), but who am I.. It became anyway part of the popular and recognizable Motown sound of bands like the Supremes, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, and many others, and obtained generally a place in Soul music.
US AND BRITISH POP MUSIC
Perhaps due to that connection to Gospel and later Soul, tambourines became common and popular percussion instruments in the 1960s likewise in US folk, rock & roll, and country music (Bob Dylan a.o.), and British Beat music (by the Beatles and others), eclipsing often other percussion instruments. It remained common since then.
In Rock music and R&B, the “jingle bell”-type tambourine (without drumhead/membrane) became most common, as in Country. In turn, in places like Mexico, the original tambourine as in Spain (with drumhead/membrane) became more used. Moreover, while in some parts of the world (e.g. Ukraine) a beating stick is used, in Spain and in the Berber and Middle Eastern worlds, the drumhead is played with the hand and fingers.
There is apparently something about that shaken “jingling-bells”sound that many musicians in some cultures like, maybe to “glue” all patterns together. Like cymbals and hi-hats of the (trap) drum set – in time mainstream in Western Rock and pop music – the tambourine tended to play “continuous” and walking patterns during songs. Thus it got to serve – as some describe it – as a “carpet” for the other instruments and rhythms. This is a bit comparable to how the Cuban shakers (maracas) function in Salsa, for instance: continuous, hardly interrupted patterns. It “bathes” or “adorns” the rhythm/beat, rather than “varying” on or “answering” it much (notwithstanding occasional variations). This is certainly the case in Rock and Country.
As a Reggae fan since my teens, I of course find it interesting how the tambourine – as part of this “flexible spread” – got used in Jamaican music genres, like Reggae.
Historically, Reggae music originated in Jamaica from earlier local genres Ska and Rocksteady around 1968, being early on influenced by both Blues and R&B (and Jazz) “swing” influences from Black US music, as well as by African retentions and local Jamaican Afro-folk music with more “polyrhythmic” qualities. In time US Soul and Gospel influenced Reggae a bit too, though some artists more than others.
Already in the first Ska songs around 1960, that following on an earlier more rural genre in Jamaica, called Mento, tambourines could on occasion be heard. Interestingly, in Mento, the “shaker” role was more played by Cuban-like maracas or shakers, with a less “jingly belly” sound. With more “urban”, Ska music, the more ”modern” or Western tambourine made its hesitant way into popular music in Jamaica, so after 1960.
Hesitant, because its use was not standard in Ska, neither in following Rocksteady or Reggae. Some musicians, percussionists, chose to use tambourines on occasion, as one of the many percussive addition options to choose from. Just as often, though, they chose other shakers, like maracas, or woodblocks, scrapers, hand drums, etcetera.
Over time tambourines became, like in US Soul and Funk, a bit more common in Reggae songs, but hardly as “standard” presence. The more extensive hi-hat drum set patterns in Reggae since 1968 (with more 16th notes, when compared to earlier, “emptier” and “metronomic” Rocksteady), made the tambourine often less essential or fundamental in most Reggae grooves, with seldom continuous/walking patterns. More often, it rather got to add a “swing” or “shuffle” feel to many Reggae grooves, or even a polyrhythmic feel, as “responding” to the other rhythmic patterns in songs.
On the other hand, the very sound of the tambourine is comparable, but not similar to the hi-hat (though both are essentially "cymbals"), so it can add an "extending" shuffling feel to the hi-hat patterns, although it might "drown" amidst full hi-hat patterns, or along other shakers in the song, or when mixed in with a soft sound, in Reggae songs. Yet, even when quite soft, it of course still has a - subtle - musical function in the whole groove, only not so much "in your face".
Again, all this is a sign of the “flexible global route” of the tambourine, to another cultural and musical context.
USE IN REGGAE
It is certainly interesting to study the tambourine’s use in Reggae. Such a study is however not easy, because the written liner notes mostly tend to state “percussion” in general, and not specific instruments. Percussionists in Jamaican music and Reggae – such as Bongo Herman, Skully, Sticky, and others - tend to be flexible in their use of a variety of percussion instruments, differing per song. In that sense there are less standards or obliged choices (or “unwritten laws”) for Jamaican percussionists, unlike in other genres, and they are more free to choose. Reggae developed besides from a mix of influences, ranging from US R&B, Black Churches, and Jazz to African polyrhythms, hand drumming, and spiritual music, as well as some Afro-Cuban influences. In Brazil and other parts of Latin America, there are more unwritten rules regarding this.
It comes down to this: you have to actually listen to Reggae songs to know whether a tambourine is used. There are no percussionists that specialize in it more than others, or artists that use it more than others. It differs per song, and perhaps album.
Like I explained before: the hi-hat patterns are relatively “full” in Reggae, therefore often fulfilling a similar “carpet” musical role, as a tambourine can do. The tambourine thus became less essential in Reggae with such full (varied 8th, 16th notes) hi-hat patterns. Yet, this differs per song and artist too: not all drum patterns in Reggae are that “hi-hat full”, and even so, some percussionists still found a creative way to add something to a groove (e.g. a “shuffle” feel, or a counter-rhythm), if they chose to use a tambourine on that song. In Reggae the membrane-less jingle tambourine is common, though some Jamaican percussionists (like Uzziah “Sticky” Thompson) said they used the other tambourine with drumhead on some recordings too.
One album where it is used relatively a lot, in combination with other instruments, is on the Culture album Harder Than The Rest. Further analysis showed that the band Culture uses the tambourine relatively often, also on other albums (e.g. Good Things and Payday).
Other artists using it include Ijahman Levi, Gregory Isaacs, the Wailing Souls, Dennis Brown, the Itals, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Rod Taylor – and others - but – with all these artists - more occasionally than commonly. Only on specific songs. The same applies to more recent and current artists and productions in Reggae and Dancehall (Sizzla, Chronixx, Tarrus Riley a.o., who partly reuse older Reggae riddims). It can occasionally be heard in some newer Reggae songs and Riddims, as other percussion instruments
It in any case never became a standard instrument in Reggae. Not really ignored, but at most an occasionally used one. Predictably, the Gospel influenced Toots & the Maytals used a bit more regularly tambourines, but neither on all their songs.
Tambourines are – anyway – used in some well-known songs in the Reggae world, such as Ijahman’s Jah Heavy Load, Black Uhuru's Plastic Smile, Dennis Brown’s Should I (adding a nice shuffle feel around the hi-hat pattern), the Wailing Souls’ Jah Jah Gave Us Life, Culture’s Payday and Free Again, or Peter Tosh’s Pick Myself Up.
Bunny Wailer’s Boderation is an example of the tambourine with a “counter rhythm” function, reminding of polyrhythmic patterns, also found in Ijahman Levi’s beautiful song Are We A Warrior. Elsewhere, tambourine patterns remind of the Black churches or Gospel, as there are several also in Jamaica (Black Protestant churches with music). Often subtle (due to the nature and size of the instrument, of course, but effective.
Luckily, despite some Soul or Motown influence in Jamaica, even on Studio One (they say even equipment was taken over from Motown), luckily (in my opinion) the loud tambourine on the snare (mostly accentuated on the 3 in 4/4 beats in Reggae) as in some Motown Soul was not imitated in Jamaican music: tambourines tended to play around that accent, making it to my tatste often nicer and groovier. Also when on the snare drum accent (as in Culture's Tell Me Where You Get It, or Chronixx's Most I) it was not too loud.
I play in and rehearse with a Netherlands-based Reggae band as a percussionist for a few years now (Flavour Coalition). I use various small and big instruments (including hand drums, scrapers, bells, rattles, etc.). The other members were mostly appreciative of my percussion additions, yet someone nonetheless asked me why I did not use so much the tambourine. It was a Reggae band, and since he knew it is used in Reggae too, he found that a pity. He noticed other percussionists (in Reggae and other bands) used it often, I hardly.
I ended up responding that it was not my preferred percussion instrument, finding the tambourine sound too “cliché” or Poppy (Euro-mainstream), something like that, I said.. I also pointed at the lacking necessity, in light of the “fuller” (and similar) role of the (drum kit’s) hi-hat in many Reggae songs. I therefore preferred some “sharper” hand drums, scrapers, blocks, or bells, or other types of shakers (like the nice Cabasa), I liked a bit more, and considered more necessary.
Apart from personal preference, my personal “musical route” in and toward percussion also would explain it. I caught the flame of my love for percussion for a large part travelling to and in Cuba (between 2001 and 2006), where I heard and saw - often up-close - many live performances of Afro-Cuban music groups, often largely acoustic, and with percussion instruments. These did in Cuba seldom include tambourines, but instead bongos, scrapers, or congas, maracas, shekere variants, etcetera.
I immediately found some of these Afro-Cuban percussion instruments groovy and intriguing. The first instrument I took lessons for, in the Netherlands, was therefore the Bongos, with the two attached cylindrical drums of different sizes, of which I liked the edgy, groovy sound, as well as its inherent flexibility. This was followed by lessons for the Conga, another hand drum instrument I more or less fell in love with, and enjoyed playing a lot, including later in improvizing jamsessions, playing different genres: in the good tradition of legendary Cuban conguero Chano Pozo, varying from Jazz, to Blues, Pop, Rock, to Salsa, Reggae, and (relatively often) Funk.
I also went to specifically Reggae jamsessions, but mostly to play congas or bongos, or some small percussion instruments, like scrapers, or wood blocks. I certainly enjoyed myself enough, and felt no need to add so much the “cliché” tambourines, even if present. I also played cylindrical kete drums, during Rastafari-inspired Nyabinghi chants, often also shakers. Again, tambourines were not common there.
Over time I learned the basics or even advanced skills in other instruments I found interesting, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, a part of the world that intrigued me since I was a child. I delved into Yoruba, Congo and other cultures, and thus into instruments like the (Yoruba) Ashiko, Djembe, the (Nigerian) Udu, and the Talking Drum, including even taking some djembe and talking drum lessons..
Growing up as a youth, with my Spanish mother, we had a few small percussion instruments at home, such as a toy drum, bells, and castanets, but seldom (as I recall) a tambourine as such. I did enjoy the castanets’ flexibility, and picked them up later as percussionist again. Maybe the regional origin of my mother in South Spain played a role, if we would have been Galician, we maybe would have a tambourine in our house, but instead our culture approached more the Andalusian model.
Neither was my Italian father from the Tarantella areas, but from the Alpine North. He played accordion and harmonica in his youth days, he told me. Combine this whole trajectory of mine (starting in the Afro-Cuban school of percussion, sub-Saharan African interest) - and simply not stumbling upon tambourines - with the fact that I have been a Reggae fan since my teens, and in Reggae music tambourines were not unknown, but neither standard or required.. Then it is largely explained why I am not the most fanatical tambourine user of all percussionists in the Netherlands. Another part of the explanation is my personal preference..
Yet, to be clear. Though it is not my main preference, and find it a bit too well-known, I certainly do not dislike the tambourine in and of itself. I have obtained some (both with and without membrane/drumhead), used it in some compositions, or sometimes with bands and in live performances, to variate with other instruments. For instance, I use it in my Vodou-music based composition Apwoksimasyon (in Haitian music the tambourine is used sometimes), of which particularly the bell pattern was a nice challenge for me. Also I used it in a composition based on Spanish Paso Doble (Paso Doble Adelante) and e.g. one on Samba (Samba Natty), and the tambourine without drumhead also, e.g. on Kafue. Just to give some examples of my own use as composer.
I recognize and appreciate its occasional “softening” and “jingly” possibilities for – like other percussion instruments – embellishing or even strengthening a groove or rhythmical interplay.. It is on the other hand only one of the many possibilities and options within the varied world of percussion.
In addition, as is shown above: the tambourine’s history, trajectory, and spread is very interesting, showing a tremendous flexibility and resilience over time and across cultures and countries, despite (or perhaps because of) its somewhat “subtle”, understated sound. Granted, its small size played a role in its spread (they say many sailors brought it with them, across the world), but of course also its possibilities and distinctive sound.