What is Pandeiro?

June 21, 2024


The pandeiro is a traditional Brazilian percussion instrument that plays a significant role in various genres of Brazilian music, such as samba, choro, and bossa nova. It is a versatile instrument that can be played in a variety of styles, from simple rhythms to complex patterns. In this glossary, we will explore the history, construction, playing techniques, and cultural significance of the pandeiro.


The pandeiro has a long history in Brazil, dating back to the colonial period when African slaves brought their musical traditions to the country. It is believed to have originated from the tambourine, a similar instrument used in European and Middle Eastern music. Over the years, the pandeiro has evolved and become an integral part of Brazilian music, particularly in the Afro-Brazilian traditions.


The pandeiro is a circular frame drum with a single head made of animal skin or synthetic material. It typically has jingles, known as platinelas, attached to the frame, which create a jingling sound when the drum is played. The frame is usually made of wood or metal, and the head can vary in size and thickness depending on the desired sound.

Playing Techniques

There are several techniques used to play the pandeiro, including thumb rolls, finger rolls, and open tones. Thumb rolls involve using the thumb to strike the head of the drum, while finger rolls use the fingers to create a rolling motion. Open tones are produced by striking the head with the palm of the hand. Players can also use the jingles to create additional rhythmic patterns.

Cultural Significance

The pandeiro holds a special place in Brazilian culture, as it is often associated with traditional music and dance forms. It is commonly used in samba circles, where musicians gather to play and dance to the rhythm of the music. The instrument is also used in capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance and acrobatics.

Styles of Music

The pandeiro is used in a wide range of musical styles in Brazil, including samba, choro, bossa nova, and forró. In samba music, the pandeiro is played to accompany the dancers and singers, providing a lively and energetic rhythm. In choro music, the pandeiro is used to create intricate patterns and improvisations.

Famous Players

There have been many talented pandeiro players throughout history who have helped popularize the instrument in Brazil and around the world. Some notable players include Jorginho do Pandeiro, Marcos Suzano, and Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro. These musicians have mastered the art of playing the pandeiro and have inspired countless others to take up the instrument.

Modern Innovations

In recent years, there have been several innovations in the design and construction of the pandeiro, including the use of synthetic materials for the head and frame. These advancements have made the instrument more durable and versatile, allowing players to experiment with new sounds and techniques. Some modern pandeiros also feature adjustable tension rods for tuning.


The pandeiro is a unique and versatile instrument that plays a vital role in Brazilian music and culture. Its rich history, diverse playing techniques, and cultural significance make it a beloved instrument among musicians and audiences alike. Whether played in traditional samba circles or modern music productions, the pandeiro continues to captivate listeners with its vibrant rhythms and infectious energy.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.