Photo by Scott Pickering

Friday, September 24, 2010


What are those things?


A staple of Andean folk music, the chajchas consist of goat hooves sewn to cloth loops. The chajchas produce a warm, earthy, clattering rattle (to my ear). The loops are traditionally worn around the wrist (like bracelets) so that a player can also play a bombo (drum) and chajchas together. I tape a couple of loops together, grasp the whole clump, and play downbeats with a quick downward flick of the wrist.

                     Some chajchas ideas:

  • When the drumset is laying down an ethno-groove on the toms, try bringing out the chajchas on some simple downbeats.
  • Play the backbeat (sparingly).
  • Shake the hooves for an ethereal effect.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rock Cowbell

Tulp  Tulp  Tulp  Tulp

Sometimes that four to a bar / downbeat cowbell is just what the song needs. You hear it in so many styles...Rock, Funk, Pop, R&B. In contrast to many Latin styles where the cowbell has a more open / ringing sound, the Rock cowbell sound is generally a dry tone. I once read the tone described as “tulp.”

Grip the cowbell with the subdominant hand with the open end of the bell up and away from your body. The instrument rests in your hand so that the fingers and thumb are gripping the sides and the flat bottom rests against your palm. This grip allows you to achieve a dry sound with the palm stopping vibrations. If you need an open sound, drop your palm away from the bell (with fingers and thumb still clutching the bell on the sides).

If a consistent dry sound is needed, I sometimes grip the bell with fingers on the bottom (flat area) and my thumb on top of the playing surface. This grip allows me to apply some pressure for that “tulp.”

Strike the cowbell with the side of the stick (rather than the end) across the edge of the mouth. This seems to bring out more fundamental and less highs.

Go for the tulp!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Why didn’t I think of that?

Don’t try to tape a shaker egg to a drumstick. Stop playing the cowbell with a maraca. The Stickball from Rhythm Tech ( slides quickly and securely onto a range of shaft sizes and instantly allows you to add a shaker sound to a stick or mallet.
The video on the June 16, 2010 posting contains some Stickball playing.
Click on this link for Drummer CafĂ© (  for a video review of the Stickball. 
Invest in a couple of Stickballs
...a creativity catalyst!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Clean up the shaker attack

Do you ever notice some extraneous sound in that split second before you actually want the first shaker note to sound? You are probably giving the shaker a preparatory flick to bring the fill (beads) into the ready position area opposite the initial striking side. That “pre-attack” swish can mar the quality of a shaker track (or require some time with the digital editor).

You can eliminate most of the extrinsic clatter by simply bending your wrist so that the fill slides and settles into that ready position. If your first attack motion is away from your body, bend your wrist so that your thumb is closer to parallel to the floor and the fill in the shaker is resting right over your thumb. If your first attack is toward your body, bend your wrist so that your fingers are more parallel to the floor. When the rhythmic moment comes, use a normal shaker motion and the fill will move cleanly from its ready position and slap the striking area with a more precise sound.