WHAT IS A CAJÓN?

The Cajón is a box-shaped percussion instrument and, indeed, its name is the Spanish word for box or drawer. Its sides are made of hardwood, apart from the front panel which is a thinner layer of wood – usually plywood. At the back of the cajón drum there is a sound hole that allows sound to exit. By tapping on the front side – or tapa or head – various sounds are produced. Inside there are chords and more things can be added, like bells, depending on the desired sound effect. The cajón, therefore, is made totally out of wood. It is a drum with endless sound possibilities and it is fun and challenging at the same time. Because of these characteristics, it has been for us an ideal object of study and manufacturing, since it has allowed us to combine our professional skills with our love for music.

Our cajón drums POVVY are totally handmade and they have to be pre-ordered.

THE HISTORY OF THE CAJÓN

The Cajón as we know it is the modern descendant of a very simple drum, that is no more than a modified crate or a box made out of planks of wood. Neither its name nor its shape are random. According to the tradition, inspirers of this DIY drum were the slaves brought from Africa to the Spanish colonies in the Americas, mainly in Peru. It goes without saying that the conquistadores didn’t allow slaves to keep personal items or to entertain themselves by dancing, playing music or practicing any of their traditions. Driven by instinct, the African slaves took the useless transport crates that the ships left behind in the harbors and turned them into makeshift drums that allowed every rhythm to be expressed and, most importantly, they were unobserved by the conquistadores, since they looked like stools, boxes or tables. So cajónes can be said to have been the last resort of musical expression during the era of slavery. When slavery was abolished, not only was the cajón not regarded as having no more reason to exist but, on the contrary, its manufacture was developed and it was appreciated by a wider audience and musicians, thus becoming known all over Latin America. If it was the African music tradition together with the Spanish oppression that lead to the cajón’s existence, then it was not, after all, unjust that in 1977 Paco de Lucia brought it to Spain, aiming at enriching the flamenco’s rhythm, resulting in the cajón being known worldwide. Since those times, the cajón has become an inseparable part of the flamenco’s and rumba’s composition and it is used in blues, jazz, pop, ethnic and even in more experimental kinds of music. It can be fully integrated in all kinds of music, from the most traditional to the most modern.

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