TamboraTambora drums are one of the most popular instruments in the Caribbean. Their beats and rhythms are what many people identify as the music of the islands.

The tambora drum resembles West African drums in both rhythm and technique. It is a staple instrument in the folkloric music of the Dominican Republic, the cumbia music of Colombia and gaita style in Venezuela but is most often associated with quick, upbeat rhythms of merengue.

Like many other music, food and cultural traditions, the tradition of the tambora traveled across the Atlantic with West African slaves, who were brought by Europeans to work plantations in the Caribbean and Latin America. In Africa, the tambora had been used in rituals and ceremonies, but it became an icon of home for slaves displaced from their homes. Few belongings arrived with slaves, however, so many took to fashioning the tambora from used rum barrels.

Even though the tambora is used in several different styles of music, there are only three basic strokes that comprise all of the rhythms of the drum. The slap is made by slightly cupping the hand and slapping the head. The rim stroke is made by striking the rim across the first knuckles of the fingers. The third is the open tone.