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  • Writer's pictureNathan Coles

How to Play Tambourine in Rimsky Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnole"

Black Swamp Artist, Paolo Cimmino, demonstrates how to play several tambourine techniques for Capriccio Espagnole by Rimsky Korsakov.

This tambourine lesson will address Op. 34 "I. Alborado" mm1 - 41 in Rimsky Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol.

Capriccio Espagnole by Rimsky Korsakov.  Op. 34 "I. Alborado" mm1 - 41


Table of contents:

For this lesson, Paolo uses two different tambourines: An Aged Brass Double Row (S3TD) and a Phosphor Bronze Double Row (TD2).


Meet Your Instructor: Paolo Cimmino

Black Swamp Percussion Artist, Paolo Cimmino

Paolo Cimmino is a Black Swamp Artist and has contributed many performance and educational videos over the years.

After graduating in 1988, he began his career as a member of the San Carlo Theatre Orchestra of Naples, performing with them for twelve years. During that time he also studied ethnic music and jazz.

Currently, Paolo teaches percussion at G. Martucci Conservatoire in Salerno, frame drums and Principles of Ethnic Music at MusicAteneo of University in Salerno. He is invited regularly to give master classes throughout Europe in Spain, Croatia, Great Britain, Greece, including the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Franz Liszt Hochschule fur Musik in Weimar, Music Academy in Bijelovar, Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge The Purcell School Londra and of course in Italy - Trento, Fermo, Parma, Roma, Napoli, Bari etc

Paolo is the co-founder of “Società Italiana Tamburi a Cornice” and is continuously working to introduce the possibilities of frame drums to larger audiences

More information about Paolo can be found on his website.


How to Play Italian Tambourine

To perform this excerpt, it is recommended to use the Italian tambourine technique. This shifts the tambourine position to the head facing outward, away from the player, and being cradled by all 4 fingers at the base of the tambourine and the thumb securing the shell on the inside of the instrument.

This technique is performed by striking the tambourine with alternating thumb and fingers. Make sure there is an equal distance when striking the tambourine between the fingers and thumb. This will ensure that you create a similar timbre when striking the head.

Italian tambourine technique


How to Play Tambourine Seated

Another approach to performing this excerpt is to play the tambourine while seated. This technique has the advantage of using both hands to play faster or more complex rhythms. Not to mention, you get to sit. Playing near the jingles and not in the center of the head will help bring out the articulate of the jingles and avoid getting too much tone from the head. This technique can also be achieved by setting the tambourine on a table.

seated tambourine technique


The Tambourine "Gut" Technique

In contrast to the seated technique, the gut technique gives the performer the same two handed freedom but with the director and audience able to see the performance of the instrument. Placing your foot on a riser of some sort will help you achieve a 90 degree angle from your thigh to your leg where the tambourine can rest. Next, use your stomach (gut) to rest on the edge of the tambourine shell to keep it in place while your strike the instrument with both hands.

"gut" tambourine technique

Find What Works For You: Mixing Techniques

While all three of these performance techniques are viable options for this particular excerpt, it is important to address the needs of you, the performer, the needs of the director, and the space in which you are performing. The seated technique may not carry the volume necessary for an outdoor performance, whereas the Italian technique would be ideal. Mix and match these different playing styles to address the needs of the moment and allow yourself time to practice each individually so you're never caught off guard without another option.

Happy practicing!


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