The evocative Spanish name for a friction drum, similar to Brazilian samba’s cuíca, it is used around the world in ceremonious or celebratory music, working as a sound box via rubbing with stick, hand or wet cloth. The zambomba produces quite a comical sound, an ‘oohing’, guttural braying, not unlike the blue-footed booby bird. While fundamentally a rhythm instrument, the membrane of the drum can be pressed with the thumb while playing to vary the pitch. It can come in different forms, not just a simple drum, but as a pot or jug or some other open-ended hollow object. As well as friction sound being produced by rubbing with fingers, cloth, or a stick, it could also be a or cord which is attached to the centre of the membrane. When a cord is used the instrument may be referred to as a string drum or "lion's roar". It has many other names around the world. In Belgium it’s the rommelpot, in German the Brummtopf or Rummelpott, in Portugal the sarronca, and France it’s just a tambour à friction, and also a basically descriptive name in English – friction drum. But where is it used in song?
It is extensively used in traditional music, especially for Christmas in Spain, but also comes up in other genres, including classical, such as Alexander Goehr's “lion’s roar” in his Romanza for cello and orchestra (1968), Carl Orff calling for a whirled friction drum in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1934–52) and Benjamin Britten, in his Children’s Crusade (1969). But let’s now sample it in Trio Mocotó’s Xamêgo de Iná:
And in jazz, here’s Airto Moreira on various Miles Davis live recordings of Honky Tonk from the 1970s:
Now for a couple of more popular examples. Could we love the use of this instrument any more than in Bob Marley and the Wailers – Could You be Loved?
Then there’s the funky route, with Cameo no less, wriggling and rubbing it up with Shake Your Pants.
So then, any more rhythmic rubbing examples in music to share with this instrument? Feel free to share your examples, fictional, factual, or in any cultural context, in comments below. Do these songs make you think of something else? Then also feel free to comment below, on the contact page, or on social media: Song Bar Twitter, Song Bar Facebook. Song Bar YouTube. Please subscribe, follow and share.
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