Tambourine - Encyclopedia

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TAMBOURINE (Fr. tambour de Basque; Ger. baskische Trommel, Tambourin, or Schellen-trommel), a popular instrument of percussion of indefinite musical pitch, used for marking the rhythm in dance or bacchanalian music. The tambourine consists of a flat wooden or metal ring, over one end of which is stretched a parchment or vellum head; in the circumference of the ring are fixed nine or ten metal disks or small bells which jingle as the tambourine is struck by the hand, or merely waved through the air. A tremolo effect is obtained by stroking the head with the finger-tips. In a 14th-century MS. (Brit. Mus. Sloane 3983, fol. 13) a tambourine of modern appearance with a snare bears the inscription "Tympanum." The tambourine is of the highest antiquity, and was known at different times under the names of timbrel or tabret, tympanon or tympanum, and symphonic. (K. S.)

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