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Cuíca

Cuíca

The cuíca is a friction drum. It has a single head made of animal skin. The other side of the drum is open. A rod is attached to the centre of, and perpendicular to the drum head, stretching into the drum's interior. The musician plays the cuíca by rubbing the rod with a wet cloth (jeans works well!) held in the hand. In this way throbbing sounds, and even sounds similar to elephants farting or monkeys screaming can be produced. The drum serves as a resonator and amplifies the sound. By pressing the skin with the fingers, more or less near the place where the rod is connected, the pitch of the sound is altered. In this way it's possible to play "melodies". The way the rod is attached to the skin in the cuíca differs from the way it is attached in European friction drums. This reinforces the hypothesis that the cuíca entered Brazil by African negroes. The use of the cuíca in Brazilian music is widespread. Around 1930 it took its place in the rhythm sections of the samba schools. In jazzrock you can hear the cuíca in Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon man".

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