The recent explosion of the cajon onto the drumming & percussion scene has been phenomenal, perhaps equalling that of the djembe in the 80's & 90's.
Why is this?
- Perhaps because it is a portable drum kit that sets-up faster than a brass or woodwind player
- Perhaps because it is instantly accessible to people of all ages and abilities
- Perhaps because it is able to fit seemlessly into most musical styles
- Perhaps because it is 'just a box' that produces a huge range of tonal colours
Whatever the reason, the cajon is here to stay.
The cajon (cajón) originated in the tea plantations of Peru, probably in the 18th Century. It is likely that the original instruments originated form the tea chests/boxes used to pack the tea. These boxes were constructed using thin wood and therefore, would be prone to warping and splitting in the wide ranges of humidity and heat they experienced. It is this splitting which is likely to have produced the characteristic rattle or snare sound of the drum, imitated today through the use of snare wires.
Traditional Peruvian cajons still have no snare wires inside so are much closer to the original African box drums from which they probably originated, producing a much drier sound than those with snares. cajons are still used to accompany many of the traditional Peruvian dances.
The cajon emerged from relative obscurity in the 1970s, when the Flamenco guitar virtuoso, Paco de Lucia, was given a cajon as a present by Peruvian composer and cajon master, Caitro Soto. De Lucia liked the sound of the instrument so much that he introduced the cajon into his repertoire. The instrument grew in popularity and today it is the mainstay of many styles of Flamenco music, a genre of music producing some of today's cajon masters, such as de Paquito Gonzalez.
However, it is not restricted to one musical genre, having found its way onto many stages and recordings in the pop, rock, folk, indie, Latin & jazz scenes.
For me, the secret of its success is its accessibility to anyone, drummer, non-drummer or total newcomer. With practice and a bit of effort it is possible to coax a vast range of sounds from the drum using the front (tapa) face, or any of the other surfaces available for hitting. Counterbeats with the fingers and heels turn a simple box into a rhythm extravaganza.
There's so much I could write here, but a lot is already written on my drumming and percussion web site, Waywood Music
. You'll find historical facts and what i consider to be the most important information: how to choose the best cajon for your personal needs. You'll learn about construction, snares, tensioning, materials and importantly, how you can decide which particular brand or model of cajon is best for you. The information is all free and impartial, so you'll read about different makes, styles and brands.
I personally love the cajons made by J. Leiva from Andalusia in Spain, which is why I play them and sell them. I also love some of the models by other manufacturers like DeGregorio and Schlagwerk. I've played many different makes and models over the past 15-18 years so like to think I know a bit about what sounds 'good' and what doesn't. Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give is that every drum, even the same model made by the same manufacturer, sounds different. Therefore, the only way you can really choose a drum is to be physically in the room and listen to it and where possible, compare it to others
. Very few people seem to realise this and just click a 'Buy' button on a web site. I like to talk to my customers, find out what they want (especially regarding sound characteristics), perhaps even help them choose the best model for their needs within their budget. I then visit my supplier and personally try out as many cajons as it takes to find the best one for my customer and I believe, very importantly, a cajon that I would be happy to play myself.
So, if you're looking for a cajon and looking for some help or advice, why not drop me an e-mail or call me and I'll help you as much as I can and what's more, I don't expect you to buy from me. All advice comes with no strings attached.
Still interested? Why not visit the How to Choose the Best Cajon for You
page on my web site and take a look and then, of you're still interested, you'll find my contact details at the bottom of the web page.
And if you're interested in what I sell, take a quick look at the Cajon Sales
page; as I am an individual, I keep my prices as low as possible so they're probably some of the cheapest in the UK (and you get a bespoke service by a percussionist who cares about his instruments, playing and customers).
Thanks for reading.
Until nest time ...
Labels: andalusia, box drum, cajon drum, cajon history, cheap cajons, choosing a cajon, choosing best cajon for your needs, leiva cajon, playing cajon, selecting a cajon, which cajon is best for me