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Percussion instrument
Classification Percussion
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 112.1
(Shaken idiophones or rattles)
Related instruments
Machito, Monguito
LP Percussion
Sound sample

A maraca ( Loudspeaker.svg pronunciation  ), sometimes called rumba shaker or chac-chac, [1] is a rattle which appears in many genres of Caribbean and Latin music. It is shaken by a handle and usually played as part of a pair.


Maracas (from Guaraní mbaracás), [2] also known as tamaracas, were rattles of divination, an oracle of the Brazilian Tupinamba Indians, found also with other Indian tribes, such as the Guarani, Orinoco and in Florida. Rattles made from Lagenaria gourds are being shaken by the natural grip, while the round Crescentia calabash fruits are fitted to a handle. [3] Human hair is sometimes fastened on the top, and a slit is cut in it to represent a mouth, through which their shamans (payes) made it utter its responses. A few pebbles are inserted to make it rattle and it is crowned with the red feathers of the guarás (scarlet ibis). Every man had his maraca. It was used at their dances and to heal the sick. [4] Andean curanderos (healers) use maracas in their healing rites. [5]

Modern maraca balls are also made of leather, wood or plastic. [6]

The manufacturer Latin Percussion produces a very popular maracas design type with plastic balls and a very rough filling (LP 281). Some other companies have copied them. These maracas are very loud and are also perfect as a toy musical instrument, e. g. in the music education for young children.

A maraca player in Spanish is a maraquero.

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Rattle (percussion instrument)

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Hand percussion

Hand percussion is a percussion instrument that is held in the hand. They can be made from wood, metal or plastic, bottles stops and are usually shaken, scraped or tapped with fingers or a stick. It is a useful category in terms of a large percussion orchestra in that it identifies all instruments that are not drums or pitched percussion such as marimba and xylophone.

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Egg shaker

An egg shaker or ganzá is a hand percussion instrument, in the idiophone category, that makes a noise when shaken. Functionally it is similar to a maraca. Typically the outer casing or container is ovoidal or egg-shaped. It is partially full of small, loose objects, such as seeds or beads, which create the percussive sounds as they collide, both with each other and with the inside surface of the container. The egg shaker is a Latin American instrument, cheap to buy and relatively simple to play.

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The takuapu is a musical percussion instrument used by the indigenous Guaraní people of South America, made from a hollow bamboo tube. The player grasps the takuapu in the middle, holds it vertically, and drops it so that it strikes the ground, producing a deep sound. The name takuapu is a compound of the Guaraní words takua (‘bamboo’) and pu (‘sound’).


  1. Mendes, John (1976). Cote ce Cote la: Trinidad and Tobago Dictionary. Arima, Trinidad: Syncreators. p. 135.
  2. Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (1876), "Mbaracá", Vocabulario y tesoro de la lengua Guarani (ó mas bien Tupi), 2, Frick, p. 212b
  3. Julian H. Steward, ed. (1948), Handbook of South American Indians , 3, U.S. Government Printing Office, pp. 43, 129, 238
  4. Robert Southey (1810), History of Brazil, 1, Longman & Hurst, pp. 187–188, 635 Note: guarás is spelled idiosyncratically as "goaraz" in this historical source.
  5. Federico Kauffmann Doig (2005), "SOUTH AMERICAN INDIANS: INDIANS OF THE ANDES IN THE PRE-INCA PERIOD", in Lindsay Jones (ed.), Encyclopedia of Religion, 13 (2nd ed.), Gale, pp. 8599–8605, ISBN   0-02-865982-1
  6. Blades, James (1992). Percussion instruments and their history (Rev. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Bold Strummer. ISBN   0-933224-61-3.