The Tan Tan Instrument: History, Facts, And More Sunday October 23 2022, 11:45 PM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
The Tan Tan Instrument: History, Facts, And More

What Is The Tan Tan?

Many drummers like to call this particular drum one of their favorites to play despite the insane amount of drums that exist in the world. It's because this drum is particularly easy to pick up, easy to use for many types of music, and hard to resist for its warm and intimate bassy sound.

The Tan Tan is a cylindrical hand drum that is primarily used in Brazilian music culture, and it's a totally underrated drum to experience. It usually comes in either a wood shell or a metal shell and is surprisingly lightweight despite how it looks because of its hollow bottom.

It is also referred to as the Rebolo, which is said to be the smaller version, but it's still a reference to the same instrument. While the Tan Tan is often closer to 28 inches, the Rebolo averages around 12 inches in height. 

History Of The Tan Tan Instrument

The Tan Tan is more of a recent instrument compared to the other drums and such that I've showcased on this blog. It's primarily used in the genre of Pagode, which is a subgenre of the Afro-Brazilian genre Samba. 

In the 1980s, Pagode became so popular that the instruments used in its style became an accepted part of the classical samba formation. These instruments include the hand repique, the 4-string banjo, and the Tan Tan. 

The Tan Tan serves as the bass drum for the Pagode music groups that perform and is meant to mimic the sound of the Surdo, but it is not as loud. Still, the Tan Tan has enough power to be used in many different ways effectively!

How To Play Tan Tan


While you can play it with it standing upright on the floor, many players like to play the Tan Tan with it lying on its side in their lap. Its simplicity lies in the fact that you can produce mainly two sounds: one from beating the shell of the drum and one from beating the top of the drum.

The top of the drum produces a very warm and bassy sound that is not overwhelming and makes for perfect usage in intimate settings. It is both muted and deep, with the head being made from either artificial skin or napa clear nylon head with a vinyl fabric).

Many Uses Of The Tan Tan 

This drum is mostly used for small samba and pagode ensembles that are performing or parading in a very energetic environment to celebrate in Brazil. This drum has tons of other uses as well since it can be played similarly to the congo drum. 

In educational environments, this makes the perfect drum to introduce music to students in a smaller environment without being too abrasive and intimidating. The smaller variation, known as the Rebolo, would be great for this. 

In community environments around the world, this makes the perfect drum to provide the core of the percussive flow for events that are held outdoors and indoors, where many instruments blend at once. 

The Tan Tan drum is also a good instrument to use for meditative instrumentation thanks to its muted and rich sound, which again will not overpower a small room like other drums might. 

Where To Buy The Tan Tan

Since this is an underrated and pretty new instrument in comparison to most, it can be a challenge to find if you are not currently located in Brazil. But this doesn't mean that you can't find them online, because there are several sites selling them! 

This instrument can be a bit more pricey when compared to other drums, but as I mentioned, it is very surprisingly lightweight and can also come in different sizes depending on your needs. You can find pretty affordable options on Amazon for buying smaller and larger Tan Tans. 

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Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!

If you are ever in need of singer, songwriter or song producer services for your music project or brand, see what Yona Marie can offer you on her song services page. As an Amazon Associate, Yona Marie earns from qualifying purchases. Amazon and other affiliate products are recommended to genuinely help readers and keep this site up and running as well.

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