(October 15, 2013 to January 31, 2014)

Traditional Ilocano Drums of Ilocos Norte

The drum is one of man’s oldest and more widely used musical instrument. Found in highly developed cultures as well as underdeveloped societies, it comes in various sizes, forms and used in many ways for different occasions.

A tambor (drum) produces sound by vibrations of a stretched membrane when struck and instruments like these are also known as membranophones. The tambor is also categorized as a percussion instrument.

The tambor is made from animal hide stretched on both ends of a cylindrical hallow trunk of a Damortís (Manila tamarind, scientifically known as Pithecellobium Dulce), known as the drumshell. The membrane covers both the sides of the drumshell, the top portion, being the drumhead. The drumhead is struck with a stick made from Belláng (Palma Brava) wood known as the beater or the drumstick.

In Ilocos, the tambor has played an important part in special town and church related events, which is why each town used to have its own band of tamboreros. Diana is a custom where the tamboreros parade around the town early in the morning to gather the townsfolk signaling the start of a mass or procession for church events like the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and other important feasts, and to spark excitement to kick off a town fiesta celebration. During the Spanish times, a town crier was employed to rouse the townsfolk with his drum, gathering them to make announcements and proclamations.

Today, a band is not complete without the drums. No musical instrument can awaken excitement more powerfully than the resounding sound of the drums. Unfortunately, the tambor as we traditionally know in the Ilocos is slowly vanishing. As of the time of this research only the town of Sarrat has a tamboreros band using the traditional tambores.

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