Paila criolla is the term given to a Cuban membranophone. It consists of a shallow metal casing or paila (cookware of Spanish origin; in Catalonian language it is called paella), with a single-headed drum.
Paila criolla was initially used by street bands in the 19th century. They are shallower in shape than single-headed tom-toms, and come in double sets, tuned an octave apart. The player (known as a timbalero) uses a variety of stick strokes, rim shots, and rolls on the skins to produce a wide range of percussive expression during solos and at transitional sections of music, and usually plays the shells of the drum or auxiliary percussion such as a cowbell (cencerro). Pailas are always hit with straight batons that have no additional head. Hits are made on the top and on the metal sides.
The shells are referred to as cáscara (the Spanish word for shell) which is also the name of a rhythmic pattern common in Cuban music that is played on the shells of the pailas to keep time. The shells are made of metal. The heads are light and tuned fairly high for their size. Pailas are now often called timbales, but the term timbales is ambiguous, because it was also used to described kettle drums.
... timbales (pl.) is often used now to mean pailas, there is a problem with this usage, because timbal has been used in Cuba for two quite different types of drum ... The typani were replaced by pailas criollas, which because of their light weight were originally used by street bands ... Pailas were taken over by the early charangas their original name is still used in Cuba, but over time the familiar term timbal has been taken over to describe the pailas ...