Rattles and shakers can be found in musical traditions all over the world. The importance of the these instruments lies in their layering quality. Add a rattle to any music and you have a layer almost equivalent to a drone: a sound that continuously fills up a certain frequency band. This tutorial video shows how to play a rattle with some basic warm-ups and exercises.
The rattle is an important shamanic tool and is often utilized by singers to accompany themselves in chant and song. I have learned a lot about the rattle studying shamanism with Maestro Manuel Rufino and the Golden Drum Community.
One of the most important aspects of how to play a rattle is to have a flexile wrist. In this video I show how to warm up the wrists and use them properly for rattle playing.
Another important aspect is playing in time. Utilizing a metronome, this video explores how to play a rattle or shaker precisely in time.
A rattle and a shaker are essentially the same thing. The term “rattle” is usually assigned to a shaker on a stick, while the term “shaker” really applies to any resonant container with beads inside. The “beads” inside a rattle can be any small hard pieces such as rocks, seeds, grains, cactus spines, pieces of plastic, etc.
When buying a rattle or shaker it’s important to play it and feel how the weight sits in your hand as you shake it. An ideal rattle or shaker has a good balance of weight and range of movement.