Square tambourine (wood, skin, wire, thread, rattle)

Square tambourine (wood, skin, wire, thread, rattle)
Square tambourine. Peñaparda (Salamanca, España). Lydia Zarceño. 'Copyleft' Luis Á. Payno y Lydia Zarceño

Square tambourine (wood, skin, wire, thread, rattle)

Like the round tambourine, the square one, also called a timbrel, is also known from antiquity and appears in carvings and sculptures from the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia.

It has reached the present day with little modification. Known as a timbrel, it still survives in many parts of the Iberian Peninsula, especially in the border areas between Spain and Portugal, Galicia and Asturias, although references can be found in many other places.

It is made by mounting a square frame, which is then completely wrapped in the whole skin of a goat or sheep that has been dried previously using salt and ashes. The ends are sewn together to make it taut. To work the dried skin, it is put in water for a time to make it flexible. Once attached, it will tauten sufficiently to be played.

Different objects are placed inside to increase sonority: coins, stones, chick peas… or tautened strings are attached which vibrate like drones. They are played directly with the hands or using a stick or rod.

The square tambourine from Peñaparda in the photo is played with a stick which strikes both the skin and the wooden frame. Inside there is a rattle and a wire cross-piece.


Sound of square tambourine: click on black triangle