Tobago Music


Tambrin Music

The Tambrin, similar to the Tambourine Drum is an indigenous instrument to Tobago. It is a circular percussive instrument, said to have been created by slaves after their drums were confiscated, on the plantation. Originally, slaves used animal skin to cover circular old cheese boxes, available at that time, as replacement for their banned drums. At present, the Tambrin drum is made from the wood of the Latan tree or Wild Cassava which is easily bent and covered with skin of the goat.

Many say that the skin of the she goat (ewe) is better for making the high pitch of the Cutter while the skin of rams is better for making the deep tones of the Boom and Roller. The entire process takes 2-3 months. The Tambrin drum is used mainly at ceremonial occasions. It usually accompanies the Reel and Jig, at occasions such as Weddings, Christenings, Thanksgivings and Healing Ceremonies. Before the Tambrin is played it is heated over a fire until the right tone/pitch is attained. A typical Tambrin Band consists of five players, playing the following instruments:

1 Cutter
1 Roller
1 Boom
1 Fiddle (lead instrument)
1 Triangle or Steel

At present, there are several Tambrin bands in existence in Tobago. Some that may be mentioned are:

The Royal Sweet Fingers Tambrin Band
The Mt. Cullane Tambrin Band
The Unity Tambrin Band

At present a move is on by the Division of Community Development and Culture to revive the art form, among schools and villages in Tobago.

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