The Timba was until very recently a sedate and
relatively unknown member of the Brazilian tan tan family, to
be played across the lap with one hand on the head and the other
playing the shell. The tantan family was developed in Brazil by
contemporanea and others starting back in the seventies for use
in Pagode, a close relative of Samba, but
not so loud, often
played in household and other indoor situations.
However Brazilian Artist Carlinos Brown &
Timbalada began to use the big timbas much as one would use djembes,
and they coined a new term for the drum: Timbal, (pronounced in
Well, the word "timbal"
may eventually cause confusion as it comes north because of our
familiarity with the Cuban timbales.
Some people have changed the spelling to more accurately reflect
in English spelling our pronunciation of the word (Timbau). This
may help; who knows?
The instrument known as timba is
also not to be confused with the Cuban musical genre known as
Another attempt to be clear is notable
in Contemporanea's USA pricelist which lists the Timba with the
phrase (Atabaque Pagode) in parentheses. This indicates, i suppose,
that the timba may to be played in the style of an atabaque (below).
Mouse over this traditional atabaque to read more
about it.(I.E. only)
(atabaque image and text
thanks to brazilianpercussion.com)
As a side note, atabaque is a generic Moorish word for 'drum',
and it's use dates to the moorish occupation of Portugal.
Still the Contemporanea timba comes with two places
at either end to attach the strap with two clips, for those who
want to play it in the old style across the lap.
Playing tip for the timba/timbal:
Rather than putting much of the hand on it for tones and slaps,
it behaves more like a big bongo drum in that it responds well
to much less hand being put on the drum, with fingertip slaps.
Play into the head, with the hand remaining for an instant upon
the head after the stroke. This dampens the ring of the nylon
head, and the sound can thus be controlled with varying degrees
of open and closed strokes.
10" Remo Timbau / 10"
by Eric Stuer
few years back, in 2001 actually, we picked up a little 10"
REMO timbau at a sale at Brook Mays Music. immediately it became
a favorite drum: light, portable, it schleps so easily and is effortless
to play (once we figured out how to play it.) This REMO was our
introduction to the timba/timbal.
We had never played Brazilian made instruments. So, when Contemporanea
drums began to be more widely available here in the states, we'd
heard so much about them. we couldn't wait to see how their 10"
timbas stacked up to our favorite little REMO.
The two brands represent very different approaches to this style
of drum. The first thing we notice about the Contemporanea drums
is the incredible lightness, especially in the case of the wood
shell drum. It is featherweight, like an acoustic guitar body, really,
although it is well reinforced with an extra layer of wood from
inside, where the screws are and down the seam. It also has a chrome
strip around the bottom to help keep it in round. Both the metal
and the wood Contemporanea are lighter than the REMO by a solid
in with the issue of weight too, of course, is the matter of sturdiness
or DURABILITY. The Contemporanea wood timba's shell is reasonably
sturdy, given it's extreme lightness; The Contemporanea metal shell
is a little heavier, and clearly sturdier. The REMO shell is heavy,
but very strong. I actually laid it on one side and stood on it
(i weigh over 200 pounds). I don't think I should try that with
either of these other drums ;-) Remo's covering is more resistant
to scratches too. The REMO is probably the most durable [heavy duty],
kid proof drum of the batch..these are ALL well made products, mind
you, and should withstand normal wear and tear..
Contemporanea Timba list US price: $107 Wood $135.00 Aluminum The clear winner in weight and price, with a short and
punchy bass, and good projection. An exceptional deal right now,
because of currency rates..both the wood and the aluminum are a
real pleasure to play. We are particularly in love with the aluminum
one, a different beast altogether than what we have played in the
past. It is sitting with us as we type this.. :-)
list US price $305.
More than twice the money and almost twice the weight, but very
durable, with a rounder, fuller low end and magnificent tone. This
is an exceptional drum, and we'd LOVE to see REMO make them in 12"
and 13" inch sizes.
Contemporanea Wood: 4.44 lbs
Contemporanea Metal: 4.74 lbs.
REMO: 7.98 lbs.
Chrome? Remo no Contemporanea yes
Rubber rim on bottom? Remo yes Contemporanea
Shell: The concepts here differ considerably.
The covered REMO Acousticon shell is more durable than the
Contemporanea wood timba, equal perhaps to the aluminum, but
heavier than either the wood or the metal Contemporanea shells.
Hardware: Cable tuning mechanisms on the
REMO are fastened at the bottom plate by a single screw as
opposed to 3 screws on the Contemporanea.
The top tensioning rim is black metal on the REMO and Chrome
rim with J-hooks & lug nuts on the Contemporanea. The
black metal ring to which the Remo cables attach is thin,
but the aluminum ring built into the head adds strength. Both
systems took a high amount of tension.
Heads: A deep collar and what appears to
be a Legacy head on the REMO; Nylon with a relatively shallow
collar on the Contemporanea drums
(Note to any REMO guy who may read this: what is this head
made of? Is this mylar?)
In Summary, then, Remo has a way of reinventing
traditional instruments that distinguish the REMO versions from
the drums that may have inspired them. The REMO timbal is no exception.
The Acousticon walls are much thicker, the collar deeper, and the
tensioning mechanism is based on cable lugs, something you do not
see on Brazilian drums of this type..The associated REMO head has
a very deep collar compared to the shallow collared nylon head used
on the Contemporanea drum. The REMO is BASED UPON the idea of a
Brazilian timba/timbal, but they are not quite the same as the original
instruments, of which the Contemporanea drums are elegant examples.
Apples and oranges, really.
When we sat down with these three drums, we intended to qualify
one as the "winner", the best drum of the three. This
just is not practical. Our ultimate advice? Do as we have done,
and buy one of each :-)
See if you can discern which drum is which. First
it's the Wood timba for 8 bars, then the metal, then the REMO
timbal. Each drum takes three rides, nine in all.
This sound file was recorded in close quarters
at the computer desk, on a concrete floor, with a $30 Labtec microphone
going straight into the back of the computer. Our apologies for
the low end which is really lacking in this recording due to recording
limitations. It has handicapped the REMO just a bit, because that
is the drum's strong point.
We tuned the aluminum drum down and the wood timba
up for this recording, to show you the range of available tunings.
If we had reversed the tunings, you'd have seen a dramatic difference
We played a moment, switched drums, played a bit
more, switched drums. On into the afternoon we went..each time
we changed to a new drum, we soon found some very comfortable
stuff to play on it. Each drum felt so good that, in the end,
we could not make up our mind.
They are simply different. The Brazilian drums
are tighter, punchier sounding, with a shorter sustain than the
REMO. The REMO seems rounder, warmer, with a bit more breadth
of EQ. It helps the low end on the Contemporaneas if you resist
the urge to tighten them down too much. Playing with a sort of
closed stroke on the tones and slaps gives a lot more control
over the sound without cranking it up too high..
It is difficult to compare these two products
and declare an actual winner, because they are all so nice. Suffice
it to say that they are like apples and oranges, and that we will
find interesting uses for all three..
The background groove isa loop made with an Aluminum
Below: Ricky "bongo" Carthen at the
pepsi Kid Around in September 2005, playing a Contemporanea aluminum