Caxixi (pronounced ka-shee-shee) rattles are beautifully woven, small, hand percussion instruments that can be found in Africa and South America. These simple rattles have a flat piece on the bottom originally made from a dried gourd. Modern caxixis can have plastic or metal bottoms as well. The rest of the rattle is a woven “basket” that holds small items which create the sound when it is shaken. The basket area is made of pliable fiber and can be one color or beautiful patterns of colors woven together. Some caxixis have two baskets attached to one handle.
Although this instrument may look quite simple, a caxixi rattle can make a wide variety of sounds. You can shake the contents against the softer side of the woven rattle for one sound or against the harder bottom part for another tone. Skilled percussionists can create some really intricate rhythms with caxixis and they are often used by singers in West Africa when performing with a drum group. In Brazil, the caxixi is often seen creating the percussion sound for a unique stringed instrument called a birembau.
On modern jazz recordings, you can frequently hear the caxixi played by Brazilian percussionist, vocalist and berimbau player, Naná Vasconcelos.
Make Your Own Caxixi
If you are up for some serious crafting, a Brazilian site called Soul Capoeira shows you how to make real caxixis from fiber and gourds at the post below. If you’d like to try an easier version from recycled materials – a great project for kids – check out the post from Tiny Tapping Toes, below.
During the month of August 2013, you can win a caxixi rattle in an easy Rafflecopter contest here:
Soul Capoeira’s Make Your Own Caxixi Post – From Reeds or Rattan and Gourd Shells
Make Your Own Caxixi From Recycled Materials