The tambourine or timbrel is an important musical instrument in Revival churches in Jamaica. It is also featured in mento, Kumina and Pocomania music.
According to Wikipedia, the tambourine originated in Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, the Middle East and India.
The Tainos, Jamaica’s original people, called it the maguey, and used it in celebrations for their ancestors.
There are several references to the tambourine in Jamaican popular culture. In the Anancy story, Tiger Sheep-Skin Suit, Brer (Brother) Tiger plays the tambourine. Anancy (or Anansi), a spider and a trickster who outsmarts everyone, came to Jamaica from Ghana’s Ashanti people.
Another reference comes in 1837, when Isaac Belisario (1794-1849), a Jamaican artist of Jewish descent, published several paintings on street life, which included costumed dancers and singers who sang to the music of fife, triangle and tambourine.
The tambourine comes in different shapes. The most popular resembles a small drum with several metal disks placed at intervals in the side. To use it, the player shakes the instrument with one hand then strikes it with the other.
Prince Harry Playing the Tambourine in Jamaica
Last year, when Prince Harry was on his official visit to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, he played the tambourine with British vocalist Gary Barlow who was also on the island recording music for an album commemorating the Jubilee.
4 comments on “The Tambourine in Jamaican Culture”
I’m learning so much about Jamaica through your site!
Marcia, the tambourine is another one of those unique music instruments that when played by a long time experience person with them, the sound can be total magic! Thank you for the post 🙂
Thanks, Patti. I’m very happy to hear that.
So true, Mike. Wish I were one of them!
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