Timbales are cylindrical , usually metal drums which
are played with two sticks, usually along with a bell or two and
a wood or plastic sound block or two. They are of Cuban origin,
and are actually related to the tympani. The are occasionally referred
to as "pailas" or pails, and here is why:
Excerpt from Chuck Silverman's
"Changuito - A Master's Approach to Timbales:
"According to the writer Pichardo, paila is a vessel of iron
or copper in the shape of half an orange. These vessels were used
in the sugar cane factories and were used to hold guarapo, or the
juice of the cane. They were also used to fashion the Cuban Tympani.
In many cases, only one paila was used, because one drum was more
portable. It was up to the musical technique of the pailero to get
all the sounds necessary for the various musical genres."
In our opinion, the Chuck Silverman/changuito book is the
definitive book/CD on playing timbales..