Photo by Scott Pickering

Monday, March 19, 2012


The caxixi is a percussion instrument traditionally made with a woven basket cone attached to a circular piece of gourd.   The gourd functions as the primary striking surface.  Some modern versions use plastic or metal instead of gourd.   The instrument contains some type of "fill" material (beads, seeds, shot, etc...).  Sound is produced by the fill contacting the gourd surface when the instrument is shaken.  There is some ancillary sound from the fill striking the basket.

I dig the earthy and slightly imprecise sound of the attack as the fill strikes the slightly convex surface.

Holding a basket in each hand allows the player to play fairly complicated rhythms.  Playing a simple downbeat pattern along with a drumset "toms groove" can lend a raw ethnic flavor.   Try holding three or four to get a big sound.

Are there some creative ideas that you'd like to share about the caxixi?  Comment below.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spherical Shaker To The Rescue

Your choice of a shaker is usually guided by the tone that is appropriate to the music.   Sometimes logistics and convenience must have a say in the decision.  A spherical (round ball) shaker can be a handy friend in some tricky settings. 

With prism and cylinder shakers, you have to make sure that the instrument is parallel to the floor for a "straight feel."  With a sphere, it is not so much of an issue. 

Recently I had to play (LIVE) a shaker pattern with my right hand and a cajon bass / slap rhythm with my left.  The shaker in the picture worked great...a good timbre and I could give my attention to the cajon without having to think much about the shaker angle.  

One more a quick instrument switch, a spherical shaker can be easier to pick up and move into playing position.

I keep this one in my mallet case.  
Whatdayathink?  Comments?