A brief history of the cajon drum

March 02, 2016
The cajon is one of the most popular and versatile intruments in the world (YouTube screengrab)

A number of musical instruments could be placed in the category of 'high maintenance' instruments. For some, there is a long and complicated tuning process. Others are awkward and/or heavy, making them difficult to move from place to place. And others require a stool, or some type of stand.

However the cajon drum (as teacher Paul Jennings points out in a recent TedEd video) is "a drum, a stand, and a seat — all in one convenient box." From its origins in Peru and West Africa, it's grown to become one of the most flexible and popular instruments in the world, crossing continents and cultures.

In its earliest forms, the cajon was simply a box consisting of five thick, wooden sides, and a thinner, sixth side which served as a striking surface. In recent decades, the drum has become standard in flamenco music, and is also being used more and more in folk, jazz, rock, and blues musics.

Watch the TedEd video below to learn more about the cajon drum and its history, and see the entire lesson on TedEd's website.

For more information on percussion instruments, check out our Class Notes video, "Choosing the Right Instrument for You: The Percussion Family."