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date: 20 August 2019

Tambari (pl. tambura)locked

  • Anthony King
  • , revised by K.A. Gourlay
  •  and Roger Blench


(pl. tambura)

A common name for the Kettledrum used in sets as part of the regalia of many traditional savanna states of West Africa. Its association with royalty in, for instance, the Hausa states of Nigeria is chronicled in the 17th century, and in its form, usage and name the tambari is related to the 16th-century court ṭabl at Fez in the Maghrib.

The individual drums in a set vary considerably in size so that the membranes may measure from 23 cm to 65 cm in diameter, and the height of the drum bodies from 20 cm to 60 cm. The tambari is beaten with two heavy thongs of hippopotamus hide, producing a deep and resonant sound. In performances the drums may be mounted singly or in pairs on heavy stakes driven into the ground ( see illustration), or in pairs on the backs of camels for use in royal cavalcades....

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