African Music: Revisit Nigeria

For our final country this week we are off to Nigeria, to learn about the gourd shekere (shake-a-ray). Originally just an empty gourd that was struck and one of the earliest drums, later beads were added to the outside to add another dimension of sound. This instrument can be played alone or in a group adding a unique layer of sound.

Here is a quick explanation on how to play a shakere as well as how it sounds:

Here is an excellent example of the solo shakere as well as how it sounds in other styles of music:

Finally here is the shakere featured amongst djembe drums:

Amongst the many instruments he has here at home, my husband does not have a shakere- so Martin and I made one!

Water Bottle Shakere

You will need….

  • Empty water bottle with a skinny neck and wider base
  • Yarn
  • Plastic beads

1.Start by tying a loop around the neck of the bottle. Then cut 8 stands of yarn 4x the length of your bottle.

2. Take each stand and fold it in half. Take the cut ends and feed it under the loop around the neck. Then feed the cut ends into the loop at the other end of the same strand and pull to secure.

3. Repeat this till all 8 strands are secured to the neck loop, be sure to space them out equally.

4. Now for the beads- moving in a clockwise direction, select one strand pair to start with and take the left side of strand A and the right side of strand B (the adjacent pair). Feed a bead onto the two strands and tie a knot to secure it. Repeat with the left of strand B and the right of strand C and so on.

5. Repeat the pattern with as many or as few beads as you want, make sure that it is not tied too tightly- the beans need to be able to move around the outside of the bottle. I added some tape to the top of the bottle to keep the yarn from moving too much.

6. Tie all the remaining string together underneath the bottle to secure it. Optional: Add a few loose beads to the inside of the bottle for fun 🙂

7. Your shakere is complete! Go grab a drum or flip over a large Tupperware and start your own African drum music session!

For more fun African Music check out our trips to Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire.

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