From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Maracas (sometimes called rhumba shakers) are simple percussion instruments (idiophones), usually played in pairs, consisting of a dried calabash or gourd shell (cuia - 'kOO-ya') or coconut shell filled with seeds or dried beans. They may also be made of leather, wood, or plastic. Often one maraca is pitched high and the other low.
The instrument is of prehistoric Moroccan origin. The word maraca is thought to have come from the Tupi language of Brazil, where it is pronounced 'ma-ra-KAH'. They are known in Trinidad as shac-shacs.
Although a simple instrument, the method of playing the maracas is not obvious. The seeds must travel some distance before they hit the leather, wood, or plastic, so the player must anticipate the rhythm. Bandleader Vincent Lopez hosted a radio program in the early 1950s called Shake the Maracas in which audience members competed for small prizes by playing the instrument with the orchestra.
Maracas are heard in many forms of Latin music and are also used in pop and classical music. They are considered characteristic of the music of Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. In rock and roll, they are probably most identified with Bo Diddley.
Electronic Maracas are the main input device in the videogame "Samba De Amigo" developed by Sega.