Tambora (drum)

Tambora (drum)

The "tambora" (from the Spanish word "tambor", meaning "drum") is a name for a group of Afro-Caribbean musical instruments. Its origins came along with the African slaves brought by the Europeans during the colonization of North and South America. It is used in many Latin American countries musical styles; in the Dominican musical folkloric styles and merengue, the Cumbia in Colombia, and the Venezuelan gaita.


Ethnomusicologists maintain that there was a wide distribution of tambora-like drums throughout the African continent, but the drum is now used more in Latin music. This musical instrument was used for African traditional cultural rituals. In many countries, especially the Dominican republic, tamboras were made from salvaged rum barrels [ [http://www.grandcentralmusic.com/mall/hotdrums/drums.htm Information on the Tambora] ] .

Performers on the tambora are referred to as "tamboreros".



There are three types of tambora for the merengue style of music. The oldest kind is the rope-tuned tambora with black-colored heads. This is seen more in folkloric music of the Dominican republic and Afro-Carribbean slaves. The second type is a rope tuned tambora played with goatskin, or "chivo" heads, either with or without the hair left on. The third type, recently made by company Latin Percussion and other modern companies, is the bolt-tuned kind with rawhide conga heads. This kind usually has metal or wooden rims to hit as a filler for rhythms, sounding, if one strokes it correctly, something reminiscent of a wood block. This type can also be tuned to higher settings and can sound like a conga.

Role in Merengue

In merengue tipico, known also as perico ripiao (the oldest form of merengue), the tambora has a significantly large role, playing many different types of rhythms and variations on those rhythms. However, in orchestra merengue, the tambora usually only plays the "merengue derecho" rhythm as a background instrument, while congas are the main rhyhtm instrument, followed by the güira. In orchestra merengue, a separate performer for timbales can be seen very frequently, while in perico ripiao, the timbales and tambora are played most of the time by the same musician (timbales are used most of the time for fills, and, occasionally, solos). Timbales are said to have been introduced into the genre by Dominican percussionist Ray "Chino" Diaz [ [http://www.congahead.com/Musicians/Meet_Musicians/diaz_ray/ray.htm Ray "Chino" Diaz at congahead.com] ] .


In Colombian Cumbia, the tambora is a bass drum, played in the very first Cumbia rhythms before the accordion entered the cumbia scene, now Colombian cumbia's main instrument. It is rarely seen today as most of the percussion instruments of traditional Cumbia have been replaced by the more versatile conga, güira, claves, and timbales. Now, Colombian tamboras are generally only seen at folkloric presentations [ [http://youtube.com/watch?v=4LJUP_uYEB8 Youtube video of Colombian tambora music] ] .

Venezuelan Gaita

In Gaita music, the tambora is a one-headed drum played with sticks. The player can sit on it or put it between his or her legs to perform rhythms on the instrument [ [http://youtube.com/watch?v=MElPAcn1YJA Venezuelan tambora] ] .

Rhythms and basic tones


There are three basic strokes: slap, rim/woodblock, and open tone: these three are all used in standard merengue rhythms, such as merengue derecho (most common merengue form) and pambiche.


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