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"Buben" redirects here. For the "Buben group" of Soviet spies, see Louis F. Budenz.
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)
Timbre bright, complex
Volume medium
Attack fast
Decay fast
Playing range

High sound of jingles, plus some have a skin with a lower sound.

Related instruments
Riq, Buben, Dayereh, Daf, Kanjira, Frame drum

The tambourine is a musical instrument in 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 are often used with regular percussion sets. They can be mounted, but position is largely down to preference.

Tambourines come in many shapes with the most common being circular. It is found in many forms of music: Turkish folk music, Greek folk music, Italian folk music, classical music, Persian music, gospel music, pop music and rock music.


Tambourines originated in Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, The Middle East, and India,[citation needed] in which the instrument was mainly used in religious contexts.[citation needed]

The word tambourine finds its origins in French tambourin, which referred to a long narrow drum used in Provence, the word being a diminutive of tambour "drum," altered by influence of Arabic tunbur "drum".[1] from the Middle Persian word tambūr "lute, drum".[2]


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 the hand or a stick or using the tambourine to strike the leg or hip.

Tambourine rolls[edit]

See also: Drum roll

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

Thumb roll[edit]

An advanced playing technique is known as the thumb roll. 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 or middle finger of the hand not holding the tambourine is run around the head of the instrument approximately one centimeter from the rim with some pressure applied. If performed correctly, the thumb should bounce along the head rapidly, producing the roll. Usually, the end of the roll is articulated using the heel of the hand or another finger.

Today the thumb roll is performed with the use of wax or resin applied to the outside of the drum head. This resin allows the thumb or finger to bounce more rapidly and forcefully across the head producing an even sound. A continuous roll can be achieved by moving the thumb in a figure of 8 pattern around the head.

In popular music[edit]

Main article: Headless tambourine

In rock music, a tambourine is most often played:

Tambourines in rock music are most often headless, a ring with jangles but no skin. The Rhythm Tech crescent-shaped tambourine and its derivatives are particularly popular. The original Rhythm Tech tambourine is displayed in the Museum of Modern Art.

Jack Ashford's distinctive tambourine playing was a dominant part of the rhythm section on Motown records.[3]

The tambourine was featured prominently in “Green Tambourine”, a busking-oriented song with which The Lemon Pipers, a 1960s musical group, notched a chart selection.

In classical music[edit]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was among the earliest western composers to include the tambourine in his compositions. Since the late eighteenth century it has become a more permanent element of the western orchestral percussion section, as exemplified in some of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Dance pieces from The Nutcracker Suite.

Similar instruments[edit]


Main article: Pandeiro

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.


Main article: Riq
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.


Main article: Dayereh
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.


Main article: Daf
An Iranian woman playing a frame drum, from a painting on the walls of Chehel Sotoun 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) and Turkmenistan. 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:

A common use of tambourine (Daf) is by Albanians. They are often played by women and bridesmaids in wedding cases to lead the ceremony when bride walks down the aisle.[citation needed]


Main article: Kanjira
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.


Main article: Timbrel
Deff - Tambourine, Palestine, picture p. 579 in W. M. Thomson: The Land and the Book; or Biblical Illustrations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery of the Holy Land. Vol. II. New York, 1859.

Timbrel or tabret (the tof of the ancient Hebrews, the deff of Islam, the adufe of the Moors of Spain), the principal musical instrument of percussion of the Israelites, similar to the modern tambourine.


Main article: Raban

A Rabana (plural Raban) is a one-sided traditional tambourine played with the hands, used in Sri Lanka.


Main article: Rebana

Rebana is a Malay tambourine that is used in Islamic devotional music in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=tambourine
  2. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=tabor
  3. ^ Brinkworth, Jayson (2 March 2010). "The Almighty Tambourine". The Black Page. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 

External links[edit]

Half moon tambourine rhythms

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Announce 'Ghosts' Single & Debut Headline Shows Fresh from the release of their debut EP The End of Time, Sydney outfit The Tambourine Girls – led by front-man Simon Relf – have today announced a debut headline tour in August to celebrate new single ...
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Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:02:33 -0700

A street entertainer spotted the folk/rock legend and began to play a song on his tambourine. Witnesses claim that Dylan's expression darkened as it became clear that a song played exclusively on a tambourine, a totally percussive instrument with a ...

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Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:56:15 -0700

Miller sang, using an old telephone as a distorted mic, and played the acoustic guitar, banjo and a tambourine, which he played with his left foot. Meanwhile, Leeper played a one-string washtub bass. “Really anything can be a musical instrument if you ...
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Thu, 21 Aug 2014 06:52:30 -0700

We caught slippery bodies at swim lessons, and twisted perfect topknots for ballet. We played the tambourine at music class and sang the "Hello, friend" song at Mommy and Me 341 times. We held chubby little arms and legs tight as the doctor gave each shot.

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Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:07:30 -0700

Sunny skies and a warm breeze welcomed fans to the festival grounds on Sunday, while Irish rockabilly artist Imelda May got the crowd rocking at the Lands End Stage with her throaty vocals and whirling tambourine on songs like “Big Bad Handsome Man,” ...
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... Page to Luciano Pavarotti. Brent Kirby is on guitar, vocals, harmonica and occasional kick-drum action. Bryan Thomas plays upright bass and the deceptively iconic Chank-o-matic 6000, which most folks would recognize as a battered tambourine on a stick.
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... chronicles both the painful dependencies and rewarding options of mental health medication while “Let's Get High and Watch Planet Earth” surprises with a flashback to the heart of '70s psychedelia with its hypnotizing chorus and seductive tambourine.
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