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- Instruments of the Parthenopean folklore -

Tammorra (The drum)

by Vincenzo Schisano
(Translated by Marianna Mastro)
La tammorra  (Foto G. Ruggiero - riproduzione vietata)
Fig. 1 The Tammorra
(move the the mouse pointer on the picture to visualize the back side)

The “Tammorra”, the prince instrument of the folklore of the Campania is made of:

  • a round wood band, whose diameter varies from 36 to 60 centimetres, high about 12 to 15 centimetres, decorated with bunches of coloured ribbons;
  • an animal skin (of sheep, goat, donkey or calf) well applied on the above mentioned wooden band, painted with dance scenes or landscapes;
  • tin saucers (made of copper in the instruments of better quality), inserted in the various oval or squared cavities along the entire wooden band.

Sometimes, next to the saucers, are inserted some small bells (“e cicere”, the chick-peas) in order to obtain various sounds.

As for the tambourine (‘o tammurriello), in the Tammorra there are various ways to produce the sound:

  • beating the skin on the surface with the entire hand;
  • beating the skin on the surface with the palm of the hand;
  • beating the skin on the surface with the fingers, one by one or by 2;
  • shaking the instrument in the air in order to play the saucers and the bells;
  • in the male way: holding the tammorra with the left hand and playing it with the right hand;
  • in the female way: holding the tammorra with the right hand and playing it with the left hand.

The “Tammorra” is a sublime instrument, from which the real virtuoso players produce a variety of sounds very charming capable to create the most incredible and impressive atmospheres, capturing even the soul of who profess themselves insensible to the music.

The evocative ability of the above mentioned “virtuosi”, hypnotizes the listener and leads his mind in an imaginary world, where he wonders among the most pleasant and fantastic open-eyed dreams.


Copyright © 2003, Vincenzo Schisano. All rights reserved.