Courtesy of Arthur Ka Wai Jenkins

The castanets consist of two hollow wooden or plastic shells. They’re used in Spanish flamenco dancing.

In orchestral music, they can conjure up a Spanish mood.

The word ‘castanet’ comes from ‘castaña’ – the Spanish for ‘chestnut’.

To play them

You hold the two shells in one hand and, with fast finger movement, make them clap together quickly.

The sound

The castanets make an energetic ‘clack-clack’ sound.

Do You Know?

Do You Know?

See if you can answer the questions below!

 Which word best describes the sound of castanets?

a. TInkle
b. Clunk
c. Clack

 Which country is suggested by the sound of the castanets?

a. Italy
b. France
c. Spain

 ‘Castanet’ comes from a Spanish word meaning what?

a. Pistachio nut
b. Chestnut
c. Hazelnut

 How many castanets are there as part of one instrument?

a. 3
b. 2
c. 4

 What are they made of?

a. Wood or plastic
b. Steel or silver
c. Brass or copper

Play More Music!

Play More Music!

Here is more music to listen to. Click the + to see tracks and information about each work!

Selected Castanets Extracts

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804–1857)
Capriccio brillante, ‘Spanish Overture No. 1’ (extract)

Listen for Spanish-flavoured clacking!

Performers: Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra; Keith Clark

Taken from Naxos 8.550086