Definition of tam-tam in US English:



  • A large metal gong with indefinite pitch.

    • ‘The percussion was especially impressive - five timpani, and lots of sound effect type instruments, tam-tam, whip, wind machine, and various tuned percussion, along with the usual.’
    • ‘He takes a look at the gong and tam-tam and demonstrates how they're played.’
    • ‘He often requires performers to play in unconventional ways or use unusual objects as instruments - in the band, players produce sounds from tuned wine glasses, tam-tams and maracas and use metal thimbles on their strings.’
    • ‘At this point, he attaches his often-heard mechanical beater to his tam-tam, and for the next three minutes he allows it largely to dictate the rhythm of his playing.’
    • ‘The viola player seems to act as a commentator, exploring the musical implications of the songs, while a percussionist underpins her, and marks the transitions on tam-tam and marimba.’
    • ‘Within a few decades the tam-tam became an important member of the percussion section of a modern symphony orchestra.’
    • ‘The piece, scored for four percussionists, is played by the percussion group using a big array of gongs, tam-tams, tom-toms, suspended brake drums and so on, but is neither bombastic nor boring.’
    • ‘Among the principal musical instruments are tam-tams, pottery drums, goat-horn whistles and flutes, and gourd-calabash horns.’
    • ‘The large bass drum and tam-tam will sound considerably different when struck with the mallets appropriate for the rest of the setup than with their normal beaters, so it is advisable to allow a short opportunity to grab the larger beater before important notes; this will only take a short moment as those beaters will be positioned very close to their instrument.’
    • ‘This arrangement demands an extremely colourful orchestra that includes piccolo, four horns, harp, orchestral bells, and tam-tam.’
    • ‘He caps this ‘movement’ with a resonant tam-tam that may not be in the score but it definitely adds to the effect!’
    • ‘Interestingly, in this movement, rather than using orchestral bells, he attempts to suggest their sound by resourceful combinations of harps and tam-tam.’
    • ‘The quartet instrumentation runs to the unusual: flute, cello, harp, and tam-tam (a large gong).’
    • ‘The one-movement, 26-minute symphony is written for a chamber orchestra of twelve instruments: string quintet, two flutes, piccolo, harp, piano, vibraphone, and tam-tam.’
    • ‘I haven't followed his recent, quieter work, but Vibra #1 is a twenty-minute drone on a gong-like tam-tam, with much richer variation than I expected.’
    • ‘The back of the hall begins to vibrate: four tam-tams (two below, two in the balcony) balloon the space into white noise.’
    • ‘In the orchestra, I am thinking of using a certain number of brass and also metallic percussion: tubular bells, gongs, tam-tam, etc.’
    • ‘From the first strike of the tam-tam and the insinuating Viennese oboe, he knows that he is taking the listener on a journey through pain and despair towards a heartbreaking resignation and acceptance.’
    • ‘The first example, Mikrophonie I, involves the real-time transformation and manipulation of the sound produced by a large tam-tam.’


Mid 19th century: perhaps from Hindi ṭam-ṭam (see tom-tom).



/ˈtam ˌtam//ˈtæm ˌtæm/