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UW Ethnomusicology Archives: Membranophones

The UW Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy Archives has been col­lecting and curating unique ethnographic music recordings, films, and video since 1962.


What are membranophones?

Membranophones are instruments that produce sound by vibrating a membrane. The Hornbostel-Sachs system divides membranophones into five categories: struck membranophones, plucked membranophones, friction membranophones, singing membranophones, and other membranophones. Since the UWEA collection contains almost exclusively membranophone recordings that fall into the struck category, this page is divided into instrument shape in order to facilitate browsing. The drum types used on this page for organization purposes are kettle drums, hourglass drums, frame drums, barrel drums, cylindrical drums, and goblet drums. 

Timbale demonstration

Text adapted from: Sachs, Curt (1940). The History of Musical Instruments,; Dean, Matt (2012). The drum : a

Title image sources (left to right):,, (rita riski solh enges),,

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