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spanish cajón peruano
classification Idiophone
percussion instrument
Template: Infobox musical instrument / maintenance / parameter range missing
Template: Infobox musical instrument / maintenance / sound sample parameters missing Related instruments


Cajón , even Kachon or Karon ( ka'xɔn , Spanish for, drawer 'or' (wooden) box ', plural cajones ) in German also, box drum called, is one of Peru -derived percussion instrument . It has a drum- like sound and is played with the hands, occasionally with a broom , bass cajons as part of a larger drum kit, also with the pedal . Despite the masculine gender in the Spanish language, the feminine gender ("the Cajón") is common in German.

Layout and function

Audio sample of a cajón

A specific characteristic of cajons is that their playing surfaces - instead of a skin or foil covering - are made of wooden panels. Their body is mostly made of wood, although other materials are now also being used. A distinction is made between the Afro-Peruvian construction and various Cuban Cajón types, which are preferably used there in special rumba forms . Characteristic of the Peruvian variant is the rattling sound, which comes from the fact that the striking plate in the upper area is not firmly connected to the body, but rather a gap remains between them. As part of the establishment of the Afro-Peruvian design in the Spanish flamenco Various modifications developed, with components made of metal instead of rattling sound a snare - similar (= Schnarr) effect of a snare drum produce (snare drum), here the pickguard is usually around tight on the body. In addition to wrapped steel strings that run next to the striking plate, there are versions with snare carpets, snare carpet segments, metal tongue compartments and spiral wires. All of them react mechanically and noisily to the vibrations of the striking plate. There are also cajons where you can turn the snare carpet on and off while playing. When used as a drum replacement, models with a snare effect are mainly used, which is generated by snare spirals and not by strings. These models are most likely to allow both dry bass drum sounds in the bass beat, as well as realistic snare sounds in the tone beat.

Originally, like many other drums, cajons were played while sitting on a stool and tucked between the legs. Today the player usually sits on the cajón. The Creole cajón, which is used less often or more as a bass cajón, is placed on the floor with its wider side. The player of the Creole cajón places one of his legs in the middle of the front wooden wall, dividing it into two playing surfaces. The beats of the bass drum are then generated with the right playing surface. In the more common column-shaped cajón, which stands on the narrow side, the player has the box lid, ie the "front", between his legs. The higher snare tone is struck on the upper edge of the box, the bass tone lower on the lid. Some cajoneros dampen the lid with a heel and thus modulate the snare tone.

Cajons have a very interesting sound, which is created by the body material and dimensions, the striking plate and the snare effect that may be used. In addition, sufficiently large-volume cajons produce a very deep bass tone below the first actual resonance frequency . With the appropriate dimensioning of the sound hole, this bass tone can be very powerful, which is why cajons are now increasingly used with a pedal and a soft mallet as real bass drums in the set.

In contrast to fur-covered drums, cajons have a rather dry sound character, which can be particularly advantageous when accompanying other unamplified instruments.


Cajón at a flamenco show in Barcelona

Originally, cajons were made from transport boxes for fish or oranges, which slaves of African origin used as a substitute after their traditional drums had been taken away from them. Drumming had functions in many areas of life for the community and its sense of togetherness.

Cajons are no longer only manufactured in Peru and Cuba, but worldwide. The typical Afro-Peruvian design with loose screwing of the striking plate has recently been expanded to include a snarling mechanism, which is traditionally used in Arab frame and European military drums - but also in Brazilian caixas  . This design has been an integral part of flamenco formations since the late 1970s.

In the meantime, cajons have established themselves almost everywhere as a percussive accompaniment instrument, especially when it comes to fulfilling drum-mimicking functions with comparatively little effort. Some manufacturers have therefore come up with the idea of ​​designing entire sets that are based on their models in terms of structure and feel. This trend is currently culminating in the fact that Afro-Peruvian cajon sounds can also be triggered as samples on e-drums. There are now also cajons that can be used to create electronic sounds.

Use in music

Cajón in street music at the 2013 Bardentreffen in Nuremberg

Nowadays the cajón is used as a rhythm instrument in all musical styles. It is often found as a substitute for bass drum and snare in acoustic music (" unplugged ") and it wins in rock, pop and, above all, folk rock. in popularity in recent years.

The Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucía introduced the cajón to flamenco in the late 1970s. In recent years, the popularity has also increased with classical musicians: The cajón complements string instruments in young ensembles such as the Modern Pop String Trio from Berlin.

Together with other percussion instruments such as shakers , bells , hi-hats or cymbals, the cajón is used as a versatile percussion instrument. Some drummers also use brooms (with plastic bristles) to play a more convincing snarling sound.

Similar box drums

The cajonito (Spanish for 'small cajon') is a cajon whose width and height is only half (and the overall size only a quarter) as large as a standard cajon. This makes the Cajonito easier to transport and cheaper. The sound is brighter and drier than the cajon.

Another traditional drum box is much smaller Cajita that a little like the sound of a resonant wood has. A relatively new development is the cajinto , it has the sound character of a snare drum. The Batá-Cajón is based on the Afro-Cuban Batá drum , but instead of the drumhead it has wooden striking surfaces.

Web links

Wiktionary: cajón  - explanations of meanings, word origins , synonyms, translations
Commons : Cajon  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. El Cajón - the story of the wonder box. , November 2, 2015, accessed on February 1, 2018 .
  2. Hans-Günter Kellner: Percussionist Guillermo García: "Flamenco is very complex compared to Western music". Deutschlandfunk, November 12, 2019