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Contextual Associations

The pandeiro is a Brazilian single-head membranophone. It is used in a variety of contexts, from the baterias (percussion sections) for samba schools and capoeira to a broad range of Brazilian popular/commercial music genres in which it is employed as an auxiliary percussion instrument.


The nylon head of this pandeiro is mounted on a rigid metal flesh hoop whose diameter is greater than that of the rim of the shell it covers. The drum's shallow cylindrical wooden shell has six equally-distanced metal piers attached to its sidewall. The tensioning of the drumhead is accomplished by placing a metal tension collar on top of the flesh hoop and connecting it to the shell with metal hooks the straight ends of which are threaded and run through the piers on the shell. Nuts are threaded onto the ends of the hooks, and when tightened against the piers serve to pull down the tension collar. This in turn increases the tension of the area of the drumhead that is covering the opening of the shell. Five elongated oval-shaped slots are made in the circumference of the drum shell each to house a pair of metal cymbals held loosely in place by a vertical pin.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The frame of the pandeiro is held in one hand and struck with the palm and fingers of the other hand. One or more fingertip of the hand holding the frame can be pressed against the inside face of the membrane, thereby muting the sound of the vibrating head to achieve rhythmic and timbral effects. The cymbals function as a secondary sound source (a rattle/jingle, therefore a shaken idiophone) that responds indirectly to the energy the performer puts into sounding the drumhead. When shaken, the pandeiro is operating as a sliding frame rattle. 


Pandeiro’ is the Portuguese word for ‘tambourine,’ and Portugal is most likely from where the instrument was introduced to Brazil. When this introduction took place is not known, but in all likelihood it took place during colonial times, perhaps as early as the 18th century.

Bibliographic Citations

Fryer, Peter. 2000. Rhythms of Resistance: African Musical Heritage in Brazil. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press.

McGown, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 2009. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

n.a. 1984. "Pandeiro." NGDMI v.3: 9. 


Instrument Information


Continent: Americas

Region: South America

Nation: Brazil

Formation: Afro-Brazilian

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

211.311 membranophone--single-skin frame drum (the depth of the body does not exceed the radius of the membrane)

Design and Playing Features

Category: membranophone

Number of drums comprising instrument: single drum

Shell design: tubular - frame

Number and function of membranes: one, for sounding

Membrane design: framed with rigid flesh hoop

Membrane attachment: counterhoop, lapped over framed membrane hoop, connected by lacing or tension rods to brackets attached to shell

Membrane tension control: rotating screw rods or bolts

Sounding for membranophone: striking directly with one hand

Sound modifiers for membranophone: concussion cymbals built into shell


10 in. diameter of shell 1.9 in. depth of shell 10.6 in. diameter of flesh hoop and tension collar 2.2 in. diameter of jingles

Primary Materials

membrane - synthetic
metal - sheet





Entry Author

Roger Vetter