Caxixi - natural sounds against evil spirits

Rattles come in a wide variety of shapes and colors in every culture on earth. This blog post is about the Caxixi and its history.

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Caxixi - rhythmic all-round talent

Construction and origin

What exactly is a Caxixi?

A Caxixi is a braided basket rattle that is always designed in a similar way. A basket weave made of, for example, junco (reed) or rattan is built onto a base, usually consisting of part of the bottle gourd (cabasa). Rattles come in a wide variety of shapes and colors in every culture on earth. The fundamental special feature of the Caxixis is that the pumpkin base opens up new playing possibilities and complex techniques. Rattles in their original form are among humanity's earliest instruments. One way today's Caxixi may have developed from this is through the deportation of slaves from West Africa to Brazil .

How do you pronounce Caxixi?

In Portuguese the "x" becomes "sh". The correct pronunciation of the word “ Caxixi ” is therefore “ Ka-Schi-Schi ”.

The Brazilian spelling of the word "Caxixi" is " Caxíxí ".

Development in Brazil

Presumably the caxixi would look different today without another Afro-Brazilian instrument. We are talking about Berimbau . If you look at African Caxixis, they are often equipped with individual stems instead of handles. The curved handle is rarely seen. Both the Berimbau and the Caxixi already existed in their original form in Africa. However, the combination, from the Caxixi game integrated into the Berimbau game, is a Brazilian invention. However, the combination of Berimbau and Caxixi can only be achieved with a curved handle. Anyone who has already tried to play a berimbau with a "stem" caxixi knows what is meant. It is not impossible, but it is not ideal either. As a reference I would like to cite Naná Vasconcelos, who said: " The caxixi is something New! ".

The Caxixi today

Through musicians such as Naná Vasconcelos , Airto Moreira and Trilok Gurtu, the Caxixi has found its way into jazz and world music. Particularly noteworthy here are Airto Moreira's participation in the legendary Miles Davis album "Bitches Brew" (1970), Naná's virtuoso playing on the ECM albums with Egberto Gismonti and Jan Garbarek as well as Trilok's work with John McLaughlin and Joe Zawinul.

Nowadays, at least one pair of Caxixis belongs in the collection of every percussionist. The possible combinations with this small percussion instrument are far from exhausted. We recommend always thinking in terms of frequencies. The Caxixi plays from the high mids. Everything that takes place in this area can also be served with a Caxixi. For example: cymbals, shakers, hi-hats, maracas. Have fun experimenting!

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