The cowbell is a hand percussion instrument used in various styles of both popular and classical music. It is named after the similar bell historically used by herdsmen to keep track of the whereabouts of cows.
While the cowbell is commonly found in musical contexts, its origin can be traced to freely roaming animals. In order to help identify the herd to which these animals belonged, herdsmen placed these bells around the animal’s neck. As the animals moved about the bell would ring, thus making it easier to know of the animal’s whereabouts. Though the bells were used on various types of animals, they are typically referred to as “cowbells” due to their extensive use with cattle.