Atabaque

Name: Atabaque.
Type: Membranophones > Drums > Barrel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.221.1
Country: Brazil.
Region: South America.

Description: The atabaque [in IPA: /ɑːtəˈbɑːk/; In Brazilian Portuguese: ataˈbaki]. It is a tall Afro-Brazilian hand drum. The atabaque is used in Caopoeira, Maculelê and the Afro-Brazilian religions of Candomblé and Ubanda. This drum is considered sacred in both religions. The main instrument in Candomblé is the drum [Atabaque], skinned with cord-and-peg tension.

Throughout Africa cord-and-peg tension atabaques had a distribution area roughly congruent with the iron double bell [the agogo]. This region included  Guinea Coast from the Niger River and west to Benin, Togo, and Ghana. Beyond West Africa, cord-and-peg tension drums appeared in Bahia, Suriname, St. Domingue, Cuba, and the southern states of America. These drums traveled with the Ewe, Fon, Akan, and Yoruba people during the New World diaspora.

There are three types of atabaque: rum, the tallest with the lowest pitch; rum-pi, of medium height and in the middle pitch range; and lê, the smallest and highest-pitched.

Construction: The shell is made traditionally from Jacaranda wood [Jacaranda caerulea] from Brazil.The shell is made traditionally from Jacaranda wood [Jacaranda caerulea] from Brazil. The head is traditionally made from calf skins. A system of ropes are intertwined around the body, connecting a metal ring near the base is sometimes known as “Atabaque De Corda”.

Wooden wedges are jammed in between this ring and the body. A hammer is used to tighten or loosen the ropes, raising or lowering the pitch of the drum.

Citations: Bibliography: Almeida, B. Capoeira: A Brazilian Art Form: History, Philosophy, and Practice [1993] ; Taylor, G. Capoeira: The Jogo de Angola from Luanda to Cyberspace [2005] ;  Website:

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