Musical Instrument Glossary T

Tabala – Large camel-skin drum. Mauritania.


1. A pair of Indian classical music drums. The smaller, higher-pitched one is called the tabla. The other, larger bass drum is called bayan. Both have a head made from two layers of goat skin. Acclaimed tabla players include Zakir Hussain, Bickram Ghosh, Anindo Chatterjee, Sukhwinder Singh Namdhari, Swapan Chaudhuri, Subhankar Banerjee, Shamta Prasad, Bapu Patwardhan, Shankar Ghosh, Tanmoy Bose.
2. Hourglass-shaped Egyptian and Middle Eastern drum, also called darbuka.

Indian tabla made by Meinl Percussion
Indian tabla made by Meinl Percussion


Tabor – Double headed rope tension drum, often played one handed. England.

Tabor drum made by Early Music Shop in England
Tabor drum made by Early Music Shop in England


Taegum – Long transverse bamboo flute. Also known as tayageum, taekeum, or daegeum. Korea.

Taganing – A set of five tuned barrel drums from Sumatra. Indonesia.

Tahitahi – Small flutes made of wood, gourd or bamboo. Madagascar.

Taiko – Any type of Japanese drums. Also known as wadaiko.

Takare – One string fiddle of the Lomwe people, also known as tagare. Mozambique.

Takebue – Bamboo transverse flute, also known as shinobue. Japan.

Talking drum – A West African, hourglass-shaped, pressure drum with variable pitch. The head is made out of goat skin and the shell out of carved hard wood. The drum is held and squeezed under the arm while being stroked with an “L” shaped stick, creating rich tonal variations and high-pitched sounds. It is also known as arm pit drum. There are many variations of the talking drum across Africa, including tama, dondo, odondo, lunna, donno, kalangu, doodo, tamma, tamanin, ekwe, dundun, and gangan.

Remo version of the talking drum
Remo version of the talking drum


Tama – Small hourglass-shaped talking drum used by the Wolof, Mandinka, and Serer people of West Africa.

Tambin – Three-hole, side blown flute of the Fula people of West Africa. Also known as sereendu, fulannu or Fula flute

Tambor – Tambor means drum in Spanish.


1. Dominican two-headed drum used in merengue music. Read more about the Dominican tambora.
2. Two-headed bass drum used in traditional cumbia music. Colombia

Latin Percussion tambora
Latin Percussion tambora


Tambor con charchillos – A snare drum with vibrating cactus spines underneath. Peru.

Tamboril – Double-headed rope tension drum played with drumsticks. Spain.

Tamborim – A small frame drum found. Brazil.

Tambourine – Percussion instrument formed by one or two rings, with jingles or cymbals, covered with flat, stretched skin.


1. Accompanying drone instrument. It is a large lute with 4-6 strings. Also known as tanpura. India.
2. Five-string bowl lyre. Also known as tamburah. Egypt and Sudan.
3. Long-necked fretted lute from Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and other European countries. Tamburas have four to six steel strings, and are usually played with a plectrum. In this, they resemble familiar families of instruments such as western mandolas and Greek bouzoukis.

Tamburello – Tambourine with jingles from southern Italy.

Tamburitza – Long-necked lute. Also known as tamburica. Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia.

Tammorra – Large tambourine with the drum head made of dried sheep or goat skin. Italy.

tammorra made by Remo
tammorra made by Remo


Tanbur – General term for various long-necked fretted lutes of the Middle East and Central Asia.

Tantan – A single-headed bass drum. Brazil.

Tapan – Bulgarian and Macedonian double-headed barrel drum, 50 to 60cm in diameter.


1. A lute that is widespread in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and the Caucasus.
2. Large Egyptian frame drum.

Persian tar by Tirmusic
Persian tar by Tirmusic


Egyptian-style tar frame drum by Remo
Egyptian-style tar frame drum by Remo


Taragot – A traditional folk music shawm. Romania, Hungary.

Taralila – Hexagonal concertina. Madagascar.

Tarhu – A spiked fiddle created by Australian luthier Peter Biffin in the 1980s. Biffin experimented with the Chinese erhu and the Middle Eastern tar and came up with this new creation. The tarhu has a long thin neck made of Blackwood, a small round body also made of Blackwood, and four strings. Biffin made several variations of the tarhu, including the Longneck tarhu and the kamancha tarhu.

Tarka – Andean wooden 6-hole flute with mouthpiece. Bolivia, Peru.

Tarogato – Single-reed instrument, 30-40cm long. Hungary.

Tarrañolas – Galician castanets. Can be made out of wood, slate, stone or pork ribs. Spain.

Tavil – Barrel bass drum from Tamil Nadu made out of jackfruit wood. India.

Tbal – Large North African side drum. Also known as tbel. Morocco, Mauritania.

Tebal – A Saharawi drum of about 60 centimeters in diameter, made of a dug out wooden bowl and leather from the skin of a camel or goat. It is played with the hands, almost exclusively by women, producing a dry and deep sound at the same time.

Tef – Frame drum. Egypt, Turkey.

Tejoletas – Two independent wooden sticks that are held by the fingers and slapped against each other, like castanets. Traditionally made out of hardwood, flat stone or tiles (tejas in Spanish). Spain.

Tekerőlant – Hungarian hurdy gurdy, also known as tekerő and nyenyere.

Televi- Two small gourds filled with seeds and attached to each end of a string Ghana.

Telenn – Breton harp. France.

Temir komuz – Iron Jew’s harp. Kyrgyzstan.

Tenbur – A Kurdish long-necked lute from eastern Anatolia that is related to the Turkish saz. Also known as tenbûr and tembur.

Teponaztli – Pre-Hispanic slit drum made out of hardwood. Mexico.

Tetsu-zutsu – A bells made from metal pipes. Japan.

Texoletas – Galician version of the tejoletas. Spain.

Tham Thap Luc – Tham thap luc is the Vietnamese name for 36, but is also the name for the Vietnamese version of the hammered dulcimer. Now found throughout Asia, the hammered dulcimer was introduced to southern China during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and made its way from there to Vietnam. Source: Khac Chi.

Thimilai- A hand drum used in coastal communities in the state of Kerala. India.

Ti – A bamboo or wooden horizontal flute, also known as dizi. China.

Tidinit – A Saharawi instrument of dug out wood and a leather cover, similar to a four-stringed lute. Western Sahara.

Timbal – A conical shaped drum from the Bahia region of Brazil, played with both hands.

Timbra timbal
Timbra timbal


Timbales – Timbales are a pair of shallow, single-headed, tunable drums. Each drum has a metal shell and often has tuned cowbell or cymbal attached to the timbales drum stand. The drums originated in Cuba, but can be found throughout Latin music. The performers are known as timbaleros. The timbales are used extensively in salsa music and Latin jazz. The most famous timbalero was Tito Puente.

Latin Percussion timbales
Latin Percussion timbales


Timbalitos – A smaller version of the timbales, tuned at higher pitches, and often added to the timbales to make up a set of four. Cuba.

Timbila – Traditional xylophone with resonators made from fruits of the masala tree. Mozambique.

Timbrel – Tambourine with jingles. Latvia.

Timple – A small guitar with 5 nylon strings from the Canary Islands. Some timples in the northern part of the island of Tenerife only had four strings. Similar small guitars are found in other parts of Spain and Spanish-speaking America. The timple is very similar to the cavaquinho and the ukulele.

Some of the most important timple players include Totoyo Millares, the lateo José Antonio Ramos, Domingo Rodríguez Oramas “El Colorao” andy Benito Cabrera. The new generation of timple musicians includes José Domingo Curbelo, Alexis Lemes, Althay Páez, Beselch Rodríguez, Yone Rodríguez, Pedro Izquierdo, Germán López, Josele del Pino, Gabriel García, Abraham Ramos Chodo, Abraham Ramos Sánchez, Javier Castro-Gomis, Juan Pablo Pérez López and Jesús Martín. The timple is also known as guitarrillo. Spain.



Tindé – Tuareg drum played by a group of women. Mali, Algeria.

Tin-whistle – A six-hole whistle made from a tin plate, with a mouthpiece. Also known as pennywhistle. Ireland.

Tiompán – An ancient Irish stringed instrument. More recently, tiompan has been used to describe the hammered dulcimer.

Tiple – A small stringed instrument derived from the guitar family, and used in Puerto Rico’s música campesina as well as other types of Latin American music with Spanish roots. The Puerto Rican tiple uses 3,4, 5 or 10 metal strings. The Colombian tiple has 12 strings. The timple derives from the Spanish guitarrillo.

Tischharfe – Table zither made out of mahogany and maple wood. It can be both plucked and bowed. Germany.

Ti-tze – Transverse bamboo flute. Also known as dizi or ti. China.

Tlapitzalli – Small Pre-Hispanic clay flute, sometimes shaped in the shape of a snake. Mexico.

Toere – Slit log drum made out of hollowed-out milo wood, played with one stick. Tahiti.



Tof – Frame drum without jingles. Also known as toph, timbrel or tabret. Israel.

Toke – Canoe shaped iron bell held in palm of the hand and struck with an iron beater. Also known as apitua and banana. Ghana.

Tololoche – A 3-4 string bass guitar used in Mexican regional music.

Ton Dhar – Small Tibetan wooden drum used in Buddhist rituals. It is shaped like an hourglass, with two pieces of string at the end of which are small round strikers. The drum is turned rapidly left and right. The strikers whip around and alternately strike each drumhead. Also known as damaru.

Tonbak – A goblet drum. Also known as tombak, donbak, dombak and zarb. Iran.

Tongling – Small bronze bell. China.

Ton Patala – Iron xylophone. Myanmar.

Topan – Balkan drum covered at each open end with stretched leather. Also known as tupan.

Topshuur- Long-necked 2-string lute played by the Altai Urianghais, the Altais, and the Tuvans of Asia. Also known as topshuur.

Totodzi- Small open-bottom barrel drum used as a master drum. Ghana.

Tramporgel – Harmonium or pump organ. Sweden.

Tres – A three-stringed (or 3 double courses of strings) guitar from the Spanish Caribbean. Popular in Cuba and Puerto Rico, the tres is derived from the Spanish guitar.

Cuban tres by Prudencio Saez
Cuban tres by Prudencio Saez


Treshchokti – A clapper used in traditional music. Russia.

Triangle- Percussion instrument made of a rod of steel bent into the shape of a triangle, open at one corner, and sounded by striking with a metal rod.

Trideksnis – A bell tree with a wooden handle and three layers of bells made of copper or brass. It’s shaken as a rattle or hit against the palm of the hand. Latvia.

Trikitixa – Basque diatonic accordion. Spain.

Triple harp – Traditional harp. Wales.

Trompa – Jew’s harp. Also known as arpa de boca and guimbarda. Spain.

Trompe – Jew’s harp used by the Mapuche Indians. Chile.

Trompeta china – A reeded trumpet of Chinese origin, brought to Havana, Cuba during colonial times and played during carnaval.

Trstenice – A shepherd’s pan flute with the longest reed in the middle. Also known as Croatian panpipe, trstenica, or orglica.

Trunfa- Sardinian jew’s harp. Italy.

T ‘rung – The t’rung is a suspended bamboo xylophone, native to the Jarai people of south central Vietnam. The original instruments were simply made, using a series of bamboo pipes struck with small sticks. The modern t’rung has three rows of pipes spanning three full octaves and is fully chromatic. The t’rung has become a popular instrument in Vietnam because of its ability to imitate the sound of water. Source: Courtesy of Khac Chi.

Tsambal – Small hammered dulcimer. Also known as sambal. Romania.

Tsambuna – Double-chantered bagpipe with no drone and goatskin bag. The tsambuna is common in the Greek islands. Also known as tsanpuna. Greece.

Tsimbl – Cimbalom in Yiddish.

Tsugaru shamisen – Originating from China, the tsugaru shamisen is a three-string, long-necked, fretless lute. The musicians of Japan began developing their own way of playing it, using a bachi (a large pick). It was primarily used as a background instrument for folk singers in the 18th and 19th Centuries, but as its popularity grew, it became an important instrument in Japanese Classical Music and appreciated as a solo instrument in the 20th Century.

Tsugaru refers to the Tsugaru district in the Aomori Prefecture (the northern tip of mainland Japan).

The Tsugaru-Shamisen, known for its ‘bluesy’ and powerful sound, has been said to be like a howling of one’s soul: a natural expression of the strength people acquired in learning to survive in the harsh climate of the Tsugaru region.

Tsuzumi – Hourglass-shaped drum with two heads, fastened by rope. Japan.

Ttun-ttun – A hand-held Basque and Navarran dulcimer consisting of a long resonant block of wood with six strings. The strings are struck with a wooden bow to produce a harmonic and rhythmic drone. Also known as salterio, tambor de cuerdas, chun-chun, and chicotén. Spain.

Tugangay – Filipino bamboo buzzer. Also known as batu-tu is and devil chaser. Philippines.

Tulum – A double chanter polyphonic bagpipe. known as called guda in Lazuri. Turkey.

Tumbadora – A set of two or more vertical barrel drums, about 120 cms long. It is played with the palms of the hand. It’s also called conga drum or congas. Cuba.

Tumbi- A small single stringed instrument from the region of Punjab. It consists of a dried, hardened gourd with a stick going through it, and 1 string. The gourd is sliced and a parchment is stretched across the hole. The string is attached to a bridge, which rests on the parchment. The tumbi is used in traditional folk music and bhangra.

Tungur – Siberian frame drum.

Tuohitorvi- Karelian wooden trumpet.

Tusselfloyte – Wooden flute. Norway.

Twienshins – Kpanlogo hand drums. Ghana.

Txalaparta – Basque spelling of the chalaparta, an ancient Basque and Navarran percussion instrument. The chalaparta is made of one or more planks of wood, stone or steel bars. The players strike the planks, using batons made of wood or iron. One player keeps the basic rhythm while the other fills the gap, creating a rhythm counterpoint. Spain.

Txanbela – Basque spelling of the chanbela, a double-reed instrument. Spain.

Txirula- Basque spelling of the chirula, a small wooden flute with a metal mouthpiece. Spain.

Txistu – Basque spelling of the chistu, a traditional flute with three finger holes and a metal mouthpiece.

Tyling – Tibetan flute from eastern Tibet.

Tzicahuiztli – Pre-Hispanic scraper made from human bones. Mexico.

Tzouras- Long-necked lute. Greece.


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