tambourine (tămˌbərēnˈ) [key], musical instrument of the percussion family, having a narrow circular frame and a single parchment drumhead, with metal plates or jingles set in the frame. The ancient Romans used it, and in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance it was used by traveling musicians and entertainers. In the 19th cent. it became a military-band instrument, appearing later and very occasionally in the orchestra. The timbrel or tabret of the Bible was probably similar to the tambourine.
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