Pictured above: Two Timbalettes, mounted on an adjustable stand. Note the tuning knobs on the bottom of each bowl.

(1993-01-05) Donated by Carol Bratman

Timbalettes are a pair of small, mounted, tunable drums modeled after larger timpani or kettledrums. Manufactured in France by the ASBA company, it is apparent that the name of the instrument originates from the diminutive form of “timbales,” the French word for timpani. Although the date of manufacture is unknown, it seems likely that this instrument was manufactured in the early 20th Century due to the casting of the knobs and the decorative design of the stand.

Identical in size, each drum has a 10 1/2-inch head mounted on a metal bowl that is nine inches deep. One drum has a plastic head and the other has a head made of a thin animal membrane; both overlap the drums’ edges and are clamped to the bowls by metal retaining rings.

The tension on the head is adjusted by means of an interior tuning mechanism that pushes against the inside of the head. This mechanism, which has a circular construction with six arms, is manipulated by two knobs. One knob is connected
to the side of the bowl and the other is connected to this mechanism at the bottom.

When mounted on the stand, the drums rise to a height of 38 1/2 inches. The base of the decorative, cast-iron stand is 10 1/2 inches in width.