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date: 07 August 2020


  • James Blades
  •  and John M. Schechter


A pair of gourd rattles, most commonly oval (in the Hornbostel and Sachs system they are classified as indirectly struck idiophones: vessel/rattles). The gourd contains the naturally dried seeds of the fruit. Imitations in wood, wickerwork, plastic or metal contain beads, small shot, or similar rattling pieces. The name maraca is thought to be of pre-Columbian Araucanian origin. It is applied universally to gourd rattles of the above description. Like all seed-pods and similar rattles the instrument is widespread and of ancient origin. A Guinea legend tells of a goddess forming a maraca by enclosing some white stones in a calabash.

Maracas are widespread particularly in Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. In Colombia, they appear in the conjunto de cumbia and conjunto de gaitas ensembles; smaller maracas known as gapachos, as the seeds used are those of the gapacho plant, are played in the chirimía ensemble of the Andean region. The ...

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