The gourd shekere generates sounds when you shake, pull, twist, or tap its net. Once you master this organic instrument, you can make a wide variety of beats and sounds. Although the shekere has its roots in Africa, it is also very popular in Brazil and Cuba.
The gourd shekere is made of wooden beads and dried gourd. The beads are woven into the net that covers the gourd shell. The sound of the shekere can be described as a loud sand clock. African slaves brought their musical tradition to the Americas.
Making a gourd shekere is very easy. All you need to do is find the right kind of gourd and buy some tools. The shape of the gourd determines the kind of sound it makes. The gourd is dried for several months before its pulp and seeds are removed. Once they are clean and dry, they are scrubbed to make them smooth. You can also design and decorate your own gourd shekere with simple art materials.
You can find a wide variety of gourds grown in the United States. They are usually picked during the fall. Larger gourds are ideal for rich and deep tones, while smaller gourds have lighter and softer sound. Smoother and cleaner gourds resonate the sound better, so make sure that you clean and scrub the gourds before you place them on the net.
Holding the shekere upright will produce a soft bass tone, while light slaps on the bottom of the gourd produces tap sounds. The shekere can also create different sounds depending on what motion you apply. You can twist, turn, and shake the shekere to produce different sounds.
Like many African instruments, the gourd shekere represents joy and dancing. The instrument is widely used in traditional events with other African drums, especially when dancing rituals are involved.
African related music and instruments such as the shekere, bongo, and djembe have been growing in popularity in the American contemporary music scene. The mix of pop and indigenous African music has shaped the American music culture today.