Maracas are rattles that come from Central America. They’re often used in pairs.
They consist of round or egg-shaped containers, usually made of wood or plastic. These are filled with whatever makes the best rattle: beans, pebbles, buttons – it varies! They narrow into a thin handle for you to hold.
Many civilisations believe that rattles can ward off evil spirits.
To play them
You shake them! But there are other clever things you can do, such as:
- Twirl them to make a kind of drumroll.
- Strike one of them into your open hand.
- Flick them to create complex rhythms.
The maracas make a hustling, shuffling, rattling sound.
Do You Know?
See if you can answer the questions below!
● What do maracas do?
● Which of these would not be found inside a maraca?
● What does the player hold to play a maraca?
● How many maracas are usually together in a group?
● Different kinds of maracas are found…
Play More Music!
Here is more music to listen to. Click the + to see tracks and information about each work!
Selected Maracas Extracts
George Gershwin (1898–1937)
Listening for the swishing in the background, which helps to conjure up the colourful sights and sounds of Cuba.
Performers: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; James Judd
Taken from Naxos 8.559107