History of the Tambourine

The tambourine has been used since the beginning of time in almost all cultures and lands. Read a brief history of this wonderful instrument and the different ways people have played it around the world.

A Brief History of the Tambourine

The tambourine can be traced back to most ancient civilizations such as India, Greece, China, Egypt, and Rome. It is also the instrument on which Miriam played after the Israelites escaped from Egypt in Exodus 15:20. It was often associated with joy, dancing, rejoicing, victory, and times of happiness and gladness.

The tambourine began to take a prominent place in the music world during the eighteenth century when composers used it in their operas, however, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the tambourine became more popular, appearing in Igor Stravinsky’s balled ‘Petrushka’, as well as in works by composers such as Berlioz.

Although the tambourine is accepted as a percussion instrument in the orchestra, it wasn’t until the Salvation Army began to use it at the end of the nineteenth century did it begin to one again take its rightful place as an instrument of praise, worship, and warfare in the church. The Salvation Army were also the first to form timbrel brigades, often of young people, devoted to learning and playing the timbrel, especially during outreaches.

The technique of playing the tambourine called ‘Timbrel Praise‘ was developed in Hong Kong during the 1980s by Dodie V. Sarchet-Waller and has since then emerged into what it is today.

The tambourine is now accepted as an acoustic, untuned instrument belonging to the percussion section of the orchestra. It has an indefinite pitch and is used to maintain rhythm and contribute generally.



*Taken from Timbrel Praise: Basic Tambourine

15th Century Angel with Tambourine