Zambomba (Agave trunks, goatskin, reeds)

Zambomba (Agave trunks, goatskin, reeds)
Zambomba of agave (Jaén, España). Lydia Zarceño. 'Copyleft' Luis Á. Payno y Lydia Zarceño

Zambomba (Agave trunks, goatskin, reeds)

One of the commonest and most varied (in shape and size) traditional musical instruments is the zambomba.

This consists of a receptacle with a wide mouth over which, as with tambourines, a skin is tautened and fixed with nails. A reed is fixed to the middle of the skin and tightly tied to it before fixing. This is done using a string and the thick part of the root, or a knot or an artificial wire system.

Sometimes a pig’s bladder is used for the cover or, as with Zambombas from Jaén, canvas, which tautens when wet.

The receptacle is usually an everyday object which is broken or not in use or which can later be returned to its normal function, like plant pots, ferris wheel buckets, abandoned beehives made of wood or cork, or any tubular object which will do.

The example we have presented is made with the bottom part of an agave flower trunk, a plant which produces a long hollow flowering trunk once a year.

Once dry, the skin is played by rubbing it with a wet hand. The instrument is used in Christmas street songs and money-raising and has, perhaps because of this, become linked to Christmas although it is used on other occasions.



Sound of  zambomba click on black triangle