Encyclopedia of Percussion: T

tabala
A set of three to five tuned wooden kettle drums used for worship by the Qadiriya of Senegal, a branch of the world's oldest Sufi order. Each drum is carved from a log and covered with a cow hide, which is laced to an iron ring and tightened with wedges. The drums are played by a troupe of drummers. Each drummer plays with one hand and one stick, except for the lead drummer, who plays a massive bass drum, using two sticks about as thick as broom handles.

The music played on tabala is called tabala Wolof and is used to inspire ecstatic singing during nightime worship. Tabala Wolof developed in Senegal in the late 1700s. The large bass drum dates back to the 1100s, when the Qadiriya started in Baghdad, and the order's first members began playing an Arab war drum during worship. The music evolved as the order spread across North Africa. Tabala Wolof is heavily influenced by the traditional drum music of the Wolof people of Senegal.

Tabala Wolof in some ways parallels African-American gospel music. Both styles of music developed from African dance rhythms, in response to another culture, at about the same time. Qadiriya worshippers, like African-American gospel singers, typically step in time to the music and through their worship strive to attain a state of grace and ecstasy.

For a recording, see Tabala Wolof: Sufi Drumming of Senegal. [Text and photo (c)1995 Village Pulse.]

tabla
A pair of small hand drums. The head of each consists of a main membrane with an annular membrane on top, and a black spot in the middle, giving them a wide variety of unique sounds. The smaller drum is called the Tabla, or Tabl and usually has a wooden shell. The larger bass drum is called the Dagga and usually has a brass shell. They are also referred to as dayan and bayan, meaning right and left (a right handed player plays the Tabl with the right hand). The black spot is called the syahi (see-ah-hee), and is off-center on the Dagga. Origin: Indian.

tabor
The forerunner of the snare drum. It existed in various sizes and was usually played by a person who at the same time played a smal flute. It head two heads and a snare on the batterhead. [Blades]

taiko
A Japanese word for drum. See also daiko.

talking drum
Origin: African. A drum used originally for communication between villages. Usually an hourglass shaped two-headed drum where the heads are laced together with thongs of gut or leather. The drum is typically held between the arm and body so that varying pressure can be applied to the thongs which alters the drum's pitch, thus "talking." Examples are the donno, dun-dun and tama.

tama
The Wolof talking drum. It is very small and is played up under the armpit. For a recording, see Sabar Wolof: Dance Drumming of Senegal. [Text and photo (c)1995 Village Pulse.]

tambor
Spanish for drum.

tambora
Spanish for big drum, usually a kind of bass drum. Also, a generic term in Latin-American countries for a two-headed instrument played with sticks. In Venezuela, it is aprox. 27 inch in diameter, 19 inch in height, and the skins are attached to a flesh ring. In the Dominican Republic the flesh ring is made from half-round rattan and the head has a diameter which is less than the length of the body. [Howard]

tambour
A frame drum.

tambourine
It jingles when you shake it....

tar
A middle eastern frame drum, which is played with the hands/fingers. (As opposed to frame drums like the bodhran which is played with a striker). The frame is made of wood, and the head is usually animal skin, very thin. Mary A. Mark

temple bells
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temple blocks
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tenor drum
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teponaztli
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tom-tom
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trash-can lid
A usually poor percussion instrument (not particularly resonant and doesn't project well), but occasionally used for that "trashy" sound.

tumba
The largest of the conga drums.

tupan
A Macedonian word for a kind of bass drum. It is used in Turkey, Bulgaria and other parts of eastern Europe. Usually played with one stick on the head and the other stick on the kettle. [Pickin]

tympani
Large kettle shaped drums, whose pitch is altered by a foot pedal or hand screws, commonly used in band and symphony music.