Tambu (music)

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For other uses, see Tambu (disambiguation).

Tambu (also tambú) is a drum, music genre and dance form, found on Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, and is a major part of the Dutch Antillean music.[1] On Bonaire, it is also known as bari. Curaçaoan tambu is a major part of that island's culture, and is there a genre that is considered muziek di zumbi (literally, spirit music, referring to music of African origin), and is accompanied by instruments like the wiri, agan and triangle. The word tambu derives from the Spanish word for drum, tambor.[2]

Tambu can refer to the small drum on which the music is played, the dance that accompanies the music, or the event where the music and dance take place. In modern tambu, the lyrics are usually in the Papiamento language and are sung along with a chapi (hoe), the tambu drum and sometimes other singers, while the audience claps to the rhythm. The tambu rhythm is complicated and is passed down orally from generation to generation. Tambu consists of two beats; sla habri and sla será, the open and closed beat respectively. These beats alternate to create a musical dialogue. Additionally, there are two types of tambu music; telele, which is a long, slow rising and falling melody, and tambu itself, which is faster paced and shorter in duration.[3]


  • Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, pp. 927–931
  • New Grove Encyclopedia of Music, pp 775–777
  1. ^ Nettl, Bruno; Miller, Terry E.; Stone, Ruth M.; Williams, Sean; Porter, James; Rice, Timothy (1998-01-01). The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Southeast Asia. Taylor & Francis. p. 994. ISBN 9780824060404. 
  2. ^ West, Alan (2003-01-01). African Caribbeans: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 150. ISBN 9780313312403. 
  3. ^ Brushaber, Susan; Greenberg, Arnold (2001-10-01). Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao Alive!. Hunter Publishing, Inc. p. 242. ISBN 9781588432599.