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Shake It Up With Percussion Instruments

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    Percussion instruments are a very important part of a song. Without drums a song would have no beat. What's a song without a beat? Lame - that's what. Drums aren't the only way to add beats and rhythms to your tune though. There are a lot of neat percussion instruments that'll spice up your songs. Here are a few to shake things up.

    Percussion Instrument - Guiro

    The guiro is a hand-held hollow percussion instrument made out of wood or from a gourd. It originated in Latin America and comes in a variety of long shapes. One of the shapes looks like a fish so the instrument is often referred to as "the fish." To play the fish you simply scrape a wood stick back and forth across the ridges on the body. The tempo (or speed) is up to you. It makes that famous "cha-cha" sound and is very common in Latin American pop music like Ricky Martin.

    Percussion Instrument - The Cowbell

    The cowbell (also called the square hand bell) got its name cuz it looks like something your cow Bessie would sport around her neck. The cowbell is made out of metal of course but doesn't have a little "ringer" inside of it - you strike it with a stick. There are hand-held versions and mountable ones for your drum kit. It's not usually used throughout an entire song - usually only in sections so it stands out. Cowbells are used in all styles of music - especially funk music. Can you imagine War's famous Low Rider tune without a cowbell?

    Percussion Instrument - Tambourine

    Add a little jingle to your tune with a tambourine. Tambourines are made from various materials and come in an easy-to-handle crescent shape, full circle or as a drum kit mount. Some tambourines have a drum skin stretched across one side that you hit and the others you just [kwlink]rattle[/kwlink]. The noise is produced by the little metal "symbols" or flat metal plates rattling against each other. They come in brass or steel jingles. This is another popular percussion instrument used by tons of bands. The Doors used a tambourine a lot in their music to mimic the sounds of "spirits." Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac used the tambourine so much it kinda became her trademark. No one can shake a tambourine like ol' Stevie.

    Percussion Instrument - Cabasa

    The cabasa is another hand-held instrument that produces a "beans in a shaker" kinda noise. It's usually made of hard wood with a handle and chain-like metal beads around a spool shape. To use it you simply hold it in one hand while you hit it with the other hand moving the rows of metal beads around the head. They hit each other to produce sound.

    Percussion Instrument - Maracas

    There's nothing like a pair of maracas to add a little salsa to your song and kick it up a notch! This hand held Latin instrument is usually shaken in pairs and sound is produced by beans or beads hitting the inside wall of the instrument. They're usually made out of wood but can be found in plastic and even metal. The Rolling Stones' tune Sympathy For The Devil is jam-packed with maracas.

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