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The cajon drum (pronounced ka-HONE) is basically a wooden box enclosed on all sides. On the front side, a thin piece of laminated wood is attached forming the playing surface. A sound hole is then cut in the back or side of the drum to allow air to escape. The cajon drum may also include guitar strings or snare wires that rest on the playing surface, which allows it to produce a snare drum effect. This is a very popular drum used in a variety of Latin music styles, but is also very quickly becoming an important part of many musical forms.
To play the cajon drum, a drummer sits on it and plays the front side with his or her hands (between the knees). Bass tones can be produced by hitting near the centre of the playing surface, and sharp slaps are achieved by striking the top edge. The top of the front face (the playing surface) is often left a little loose so that a wood-smacking sound can be produced when it is hit. The side of the cajon can also be hit to produce more interesting sounds, and the heel of the foot can be used to muffle the hand hits. Additionally, through the use of brushes or rods, more unique sound effects can be achieved.
A cajon drum is basically a drum set in a box. It can be taken to a drum circle to contribute a very unique sound (and you can even use it as a stool). It can be used in a typical drum set arrangement, and can even completely replace a drum set to provide a light and portable alternative. A cajon can be used anywhere you would use hand drums or drum sets.
These are amazing drums capable of producing a wide range of sounds. Bass tones, high-pitched slaps, and snare drum effects are just a few of the sounds that can be achieved. This extremely versatile drum can be used in many musical settings for a variety of musical styles. And, since the cajon is available in many styles and configurations, a drummer or percussionist can produce many different sounds depending on which cajon he or she chooses to play. This is definitely a drum every drummer or percussionist should be adding to his or her set up.
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