A Cajon drum is a surprisingly incredible percussion instrument. It is easy to operate, and it can be carried anywhere. On top of that, the best cajon drum is one that you can sit on while you play your music and perfectly accompanies a song alone or with other instruments.
The origin of Cajon drum is equally interesting, as well. There are two theories as to the origin of the box drum. One is, it is patterned from and is a direct descendant of other boxlike instruments from central and west Africa.
Another theory is that it’s invented to subvert the ban on music imposed by the Spanish colony. The Cajon Drum became popular among slaves during periods of slavery, and it served as a way for African slaves to express their musical sides even under suppression.
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Cajon Drum in Modern Music
Although Cajon drum is currently used in Coastal Peruvian music, it is also used to accompany piano or acoustic guitar solos.
Furthermore, this box drum can be played as a replacement for a full drum kit in minimalist performances. Thus, it is now gaining popularity in other music genres such as blues, jazz, pop, rock and funk music played in a smaller crowd and simpler setup.
Also, currently, the popularity of Cajon drum is being increased rapidly by some musical covers using this box drum as a primary instrument published on YouTube.
How Cajon Drum is played
This simple instrument has provided musicians with some options on how to play it. Its versatility has allowed other methods that produce music with different texture, form, and style.
For a start, to play this instrument, you have to possess a knack for rhythm. Not everyone can ride on a beat or has a talent for following and producing a rhythm. Cajon drum is rarely a standalone instrument. It’s usually played with other instruments with the purpose of enhancing the music.
Thus, if you intend to play this drum, you need to be able to blend with other instruments.
The usual way this drum is played is by hands. The player usually sits in the box and taps the front side of the box with two hands. The quality and type of sound produced by this box depend on where you tap it and its distance from the center.
The nearer the place is to the center, the louder the sound and the greater the bass are. Consequently, the nearer the part to the sides is, the weaker the sound and the greater the treble are.
Using Drum Brushes
There are some variations, however, with how Cajon drum is played aside from the usual method. One is using metal and plastic brushes designed for ordinary drums. Drum brushes produce richer beats that pair well with acoustic instruments.
The music generated by a Cajon Drum, either with a hand or with a music brush, is vocals friendly. That is, they accompany a vocal performance (or recording) very well.
As a bass drum pedal
With little tweaks, a Cajon drum can be a bass drum pedal. This makes the Cajon drum into an indirect percussive instrument.
The player can sit on the Cajon drum as usual. He needs only a kick pedal. However, the setup is different from the standard one since the kick pedal needs to be set up backward. One who is used with the standard bass drum pedal will need to adjust for some time.
Types of Cajon Drum
Cajon drum exists in various forms. The original instrument is just a box you sit and tap on. The variation is due to some modifications in the device that its users add to fill their musical needs.
The Peruvian Cajon is, perhaps, the closest to the original design. Cajon originated from Peru and the modern Peruvian Cajon very closely resembles the original design. It is a simple box drum with no snare or strings. Because of its generic sound, you’ll only probably find Peruvian Cajon useful for playing Peruvian folk music or in some fusion music.
The need for a richer sound has prompted the modification of the traditional Cajon. The first Flamenco Cajon has strings behind the front panel. These strings help create the crisp and airy sound reminiscent of that of a drum kit.
An improved version of Flamenco Cajon, known as Cruz Cajon, uses piano strings instead of guitar strings. This helps create a richer-than-usual sound.
You’ll find Flamenco Cajon mostly in flamenco music, but it’s also popularly used in contemporary music such as hip hop, pop, RnB, gospel, funk, rock, soul, jazz, and country, among others.
The need for an accentuated kick and a stronger snare sound has prompted the modification that uses a snare system instead of strings behind the front panel.
The said system utilizes drum snare wires thus the sound closely resembles that of real drum kits regarding power and tone.
Additionally, modern versions have mechanisms that allow players to turn the snare on or off. This allows players an added option with the sound by giving them the power to modify the sound of their Cajon easily.
Cuban Cajon is very similar to the traditional Peruvian Cajon in that it has no strings or snares in it. However, instead of the usual rectangular cuboid shape, it has five sides.
The lack of either strings or snares allows it to produce the traditional open sound. Its use is mainly in Afro-Cuban music.
Reviews Of Our Best Cajon Drum
The design and the technology introduced by Meinl Percussion TOPCAJ2WN may be a bit new and ambitious, but they’re effective. We find that, compared to the Cajons reviewed here, and to most Cajons in the market, Meinl Percussion TOPCAJ2WN is the best considering all its features and the quality of sound it produces.
It may, however, have one drawback and that’s its durability issues. Presently, it’s the most pressing of its issues, but hopefully, the company will address it given the number of complaints about it from the users.
We hope you enjoyed our review and found it helpful and that you’ll be able to decide which Cajon will work for you best.
You can read more: Top 9 Best Electronic Drum Set Reviews 2019