The Brazilian Tambourine

The pandeiro is a type of tambourine. What sets it apart from a basic tambourine is that it has a tunable drumhead and jingles that are able to produce complex staccato rhythms. And while you can play a pandeiro by tapping it wistfully against your palm, it is meant to be struck with the hand and fingers. A typical pattern involves striking it with your thumb, then fingers, then palm, then fingers. The thumb strike is close to the edge and produces a bass thump, the fingers strike close to the center and produce higher pitches, and the palm makes a muffled thump which brings out the jingles. In this, and many other ways, the pandeiro is capable of producing a wide range of timbres and rhythms. This dynamic range is why the pandeiro is referred to as bateria no bolso* or "drum set in a bag". 

The pandeiro is a descendent of the square framed Portuguese adufe which missionaries and settlers brought to South America in the 16th century. The instrument was quickly adopted into the diverse cultures and musical traditions of Brazil. As early as the mid 17th century the pandeiro was becoming a part of Afro-Brazilian music. Indeed, in early Brazil, the pandeiro could have just as easily been found accompanying strings and flute in an aristocrat's parlor as providing entrancing percussion for a Candomble ritual.  

The pandeiro is still popular today and continues to be heard in various types of Brazilian music. The traditional thumb first striking approach has been expanded on with different patterns and techniques that involve a lower tuning of the drumhead and sounding bass notes with the fingers, along with other more virtuosic approaches.  The most notable innovator of modern pandeiro rhythms is Brazilian percussion master Marcos Suzano who came up with more funk and rock oriented rhythms and has spread his gospel as an educator and performer. His popularity and approach to the pandeiro has helped elevate its status to a point where a pandeiro player might come forward to solo or even be the leader of a band.


* nosce informs me that this would translate into "drum set in the pocket" My translation was taken from the book cited below.

Sources: Music of Northeast Brazil by Larry Crook



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