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This article is about the musical instrument. For the city, see El Cajon,
Percussionist Leon Mobley playing a modified cajn; traditional cajones have the
hole at the back, opposite the tapa
File:Cajon walter.ogvPlay media
Sounds of a cajn in use

A cajn (Spanish pronunciation: [kaxon] ka-HON, "box", "crate" or "drawer") is a

box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front
or rear faces (generally thin plywood) with the hands, fingers, or sometimes
various implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks. Cajones are primarily
played in Afro-Peruvian music, as well as contemporary styles of flamenco and jazz
among other genres.[1] The term cajn is also applied to other unrelated box drums
used in Latin American music such as the cajn de rumba used in Cuban rumba and the
cajn de tapeo used in Mexican folk music.

3 aontemporary music
4 Playing styles
5 Gallery
6 See also
7 References
8 External linka


Sheets of 0.5 to 0.75 inches (1.3 to 1.9 cm) thick wood are generally used for five
sides of the box. A thinner sheet of plywood is nailed on as the sixth side, and
acts as the striking surface or head. The striking surface of the cajn drum is
commonly referred to as the tapa. A sound hole is cut on the back side. The top
edges are often left unattached and can be slapped against the box.[2] The modern
cajn may have rubber feet, and has several screws at the top for adjusting
percussive timbre.

Originally the instruments were only wooden boxes, but now some versions may also
have several stretched cords pressed against the top for a buzz-like effect or
tone. Guitar strings, rattles or drum snares may serve this purpose. Bells may also
be installed inside near the cords. The instruments are available in a wide range
of finishes and price points, ranging from relatively affordable DIY kits to costly
handcrafted models.
Origins and evolution
A street musician (Heidi Joubert) playing a decorated cajn

The cajn is the most widely used Afro-Peruvian musical instrument since the late
16th century.[3] Slaves of west and central African origin in the Americas are
considered to be the source of the cajn drum. Currently, the instrument is common
in musical performance throughout some of the Americas, the Philippines and Spain.
The cajn was developed during the periods of slavery in coastal Peru. The
instrument reached a peak in popularity by 1850, and by the end of the 19th century
cajn players were experimenting with the design of the instrument by bending some
of the planks in the cajn's body to alter the instrument's patterns of sound
vibration.[3] After slavery the cajn was spread to a much larger audience
including Criollos.

Given that the cajn comes from slave musicians in the Spanish colonial Americas,
there are two complementary origin theories for the instrument. It is possible that
the drum is a direct descendant of a number of boxlike musical instruments from
west and central Africa, especially Angola, and the Antilles. These instruments
were adapted by slaves from the Spanish shipping crates at their disposal.[4] In
port cities like Matanzas, Cuba, codfish shipping crates and small dresser drawers
became similar instruments. Another theory is that slaves used boxes as musical
instruments to subvert Spanish colonial bans on music in predominantly African
areas;[5] In this way, cajones could easily be disguised as seats or stools, thus
avoiding identification as musical instruments. In all likelihood it is a
combination of these factors - African origins and Spanish suppression of slave
music - that led to the cajn's creation.

Spanish flamenco guitar player Paco de Luca brought to Spain a cajn formerly
owned by Peruvian percussionist Caitro Soto in 1977 with the purpose of using it as
a more reliable rhythmic base in Flamenco.[6] In 2001, the cajn was declared
National Heritage by the Peruvian National Institute of Culture.[7] In 2014, the
Organization of American States declared the cajn an "Instrument of Peru for the
Contemporary music
Example percussion setup, with cajn replacing the bass drum

In the 2000s (decade), the cajn is heard extensively in Coastal Peruvian musical
styles[9][10] such as Tondero, Zamacueca and Peruvian Waltz, Spanish modern
Flamenco and certain styles of modern Cuban Rumba. The modern cajn is often used
to accompany a solo acoustic guitar or piano. The cajn is becoming rapidly popular
in blues, pop, rock, funk, world music, jazz, etc. Cajn is often used by bands
instead of a full drum kit when performing in minimalist settings. The cajn has
become a popular instrument in the folk music of Ireland and is often played
alongside the bodhrn[citation needed]. The cajn also features in some Breton
Playing styles
The player sits astride the box, tilting it at an angle while striking the head
between their knees. The percussionist can play the sides with the top of their
palms and fingers for additional sounds. Some percussionists attach a bass drum
pedal to the instrument, enabling them to play it with a single foot.