Musical Instrument Glossary C

Cabasa

South American rattle. It’s a stainless steel cylinder with metal ball chains wrapped around it, which are scraped against it.

Cabrette

Bagpipe from Auverne. Also known as Cabreta. France.

Cadenas

Cadenas means chains in Spanish. The iron chains are used as a percussion instrument. Spain.

Caixa

A drum with springs on the bottom to create a vibration much like a snare drum. Portugal and Brazil.

Caixa
Caixa

Caixeta

Wood block percussion instrument. Country of origin: Portugal and Brazil.

Caja

Snare drum. Spain and Spanish-speaking America.

Cajita

Cajita means small box in Spanish. It is a small trapezoidal box. The lid is opened and closed with one hand, while the other hand hits the box with a wooden stick. Peru.

Cajón

Cajón is a Peruvian and Cuban box drum made from a wooden hollowed box, originally used to store fish. It’s widely used in Afro-Peruvian music and modern Spanish flamenco. They come in varying sizes with open bottoms.

The instrument is usually played with the hands, with the player sitting on the cajón, executing strokes on the sides and rocking the cajón up and down to change the sounds.

Brazilian percussionist Rubem Dantas, a member of Paco dde Lucia’s band, introduced the Peruvian cajón to flamenco. It became so popular within flamenco performers that it’s become an essential instrument in contemporary flamenco. Inspired by Afro-Peruvian music and flamemco, many international percussionists have added the cajón to their percussion colelction. Variations include the cajón flamenco and caja.

Cajón
Cajón

Calabash

1. a small dried hollow shell of a gourd, used as a rattle.
2. a large dried hollow shell of a gourd, used as a bass drum (West Africa). Also known as calebasse and calabaza.

calabash shaker
calabash shaker

Campana

Campana means bell in Spanish. Percussion instrument.

Cañaveira

A cane with a slit in the middle from Galicia. It is held tightly and the lower half is struck rhythmically to obtain a certain kind of clapping sound. Spain.

Cannada

A Sardinian metallic container used by shepherds to replace the guitar. Italy.

Cántaro

Cántaro means water pitcher in Spanish. A drum made from a clay pitcher. Sometimes spelled in the plural feminine form: cántaras. Country of origin: Spain.

Caña rajada

A slit reed made out of cane. Used in traditional Andalusian folk music. Country of origin: Spain.

Caña de agua

Caña de agua means water cane in Spanish. It’s a rainstick from South America made out of cane with seeds or small stones inside. It is also called palo de lluvia which literally means rainstick in Spanish.

Capachos

Maracas containg capacho seeeds. Used in llanero (plains) music. Countries of origin: Colombia and Venezuela

Caracachá

A type of maraca made out of a small gourd filled with small stones. Also spelled caracaxá. Country of origin: Brazil.

Caracalho

A bamboo scraper used by the També indians. Country of origin: Brazil.

Caracol marinho

Caracol marinho means sea snail in Portuguese. It’s a horn made out of conch shell. Country of origin: Brazil.

Caracola

Caracola means conch shell in Spanish.

Carajillo

small clapper. Spain.

Cáscara

The shell or sides of the timbales

Castanets

Percussion instrument composed of two concave halves made out of wood or other materials. They are tied together with string. The player inserts the thumb through the string and the rest of the fingers are used to clap.

Castanets
Castanets

Castañetas

Galician castanets.

Castanhetas

Portuguese castanets.

Castanholas

Portuguese castanets.

Castañuelas

Spanish castanets typically used in traditional Spanish music and flamenco.

 Castañuelas

Castañuelas

Catacá

Brazilian wooden blocks.

Caval

Bulgarian wind instrument. Its size varies from 50 to 80cm long, with different tunings.

Cavaquinho

A small 4-stringed instrument from Portugal and the Portuguese-speaking countries. It was the predecessor of the Hawaiian ukulele.

 Cavaquinho

Cavaquinho

Caxambú

Barrel drum. Brazil.

Caxixi

The caxixi is a woven rattle with a gourd bottom filled with dried seeds. It is usually made of rattan. Brazil.

 Caxixi

Caxixi

Cejilla

A device that can be moved to adapt the pitch of the flamenco guitar.

Celempung

Large plucked zither used in the Javanese gamelans. Indonesia.

Cello

In the violin family, the tenor instrument, played upright, while held between the knees.

Cello
Cello

Celtic Harp

A small instrument of 24 to 34 strings, around 1 meter tall, with curved neck and pillar.

Celtic Harp
Celtic Harp

Cembali

1. Italian harpsichord.

2. Small Italian cymbals.

Cencerro

A Spanish and Spanish American cowbell (with the clapper removed), struck with a wooden stick.

Centa

A two-headed cylindrical stick drum from Indonesia.

Cetvorka

Quadruple flute with four pipes. Croatia,

Chabreta

Bagpipe from Lemosin. France.

Chácaras

Castanets from the Canary Islands (Spain).

Chalaparta

Chalaparta is an ancient percussion instrument from the Basque Country and Navarra. The chalaparta is made of one or more planks of wood, stone or steel bars.
The players strike the planks, using batons made of wood or iron. One player keeps the basic rhythm while the other fills the gap, creating a rhythm counterpoint. Spelled txalaparta in Basque. Spain.

Chalumeaux

A predecessor of the modern clarinet.

Champara

Kosovar Albanian small metallic finger cymbals

Chanter

The reed pipe in a bagpipe with finger holes on which the melody is played.

Chanz

Long-necked spiked lute with an oval wooden frame and snakeskin covering stretched over both faces. The three strings are fixed to a bar, which is inserted in the body. The instrument is struck or plucked with a plectrum made of horn or with the fingers. As the tones do not echo, every note is struck several times. Mongolia.

Chanzy

Three-stringed Tuvan bowed string instrument.

Charango

The mini-guitar from South America made from armadillo shells. Read more about the charango.

Chékere

A beaded gourd instrument of African origin used in Cuban music.

Chekwa

The bagpipe from Biskra (Algeria) is named chekwa. It was created at the beginning of the 20th century in the district El Alia, and it is in the very same place that the virtuosos of the chekwa were born.

The chekwa consists of two pipe reeds tied together at the tip, one part of which is fixed to the inside of the bag. At the top end of the bag, two small gazelle horns are placed with a third small reed, into which the musician will blow to fill the bag with air.

Chenda

A drum from the state of Kerala (India) beaten with two sticks.

Cheng

1) smallest and highest-pitched of Chinese zithers, related to the ch’in and the Japanese koto
2) Chinese gong.

Chhing

Cambodian finger cymbals.

Chico

Afro-Uruguayan candombe drum.

Chichas

Shakers. Colombia.

Chieuve

bagpipe from Berry. France.

Chiftelia

A Kosovar Albanian three-stringed instrument from the same family as the saz.

Chigovia

Wind instrument similar to the ocarina. Mozambique.

Chicahuaztli

Nahuatl rain stick. Mexico.

Chiflo

Three hole flute from Aragon. Spain.

Chililihtli

large Pre-Hispanic flute. Mexico

Chimta

A percussion instrument, a long strip with jingles. India.

Ch’in

long narrow zither with very smooth top surface. Traditionally the most honored of Chinese instruments. China.

Chin Chin

A 4 string lute with aluminum body. China.

Ching

Cambodian finger cymbals.

Ching-hu

smallest of Chinese bowed lutes.

Chitarra batente

guitar from Calabria (southern Italy), also known as Renaissance guitar. The body is made from walnut or chestnut wood. It has four or five metal strings.

Chirimía

Wind instrument found in Spain and Spanish-speaking America.

Chocalho

An Angolan shaker made of either many small cymbal like metal pieces or large metal cans filled with rocks, sand or other materials.

Ch’ojok

Grass flute, made from blades of grass. Korea.

Cholaho

A large tube shaker filled with small pellets. Most are made out of metal and some are multiple tubes attached together. Brazil.

Chonguri

long four-stringed fretted lute. Georgia.

Cho’or

End blown flute. Kyrgyzstan.

Chordophone

class of instruments comprising strings stretched between fixed points. divided into zithers, which includes sets of strings stretched parallel to the board; lutes (lute, violin, guitar, etc), with strings stretched across a fingerboard and its attached resonator; and harps.

Chu

Burmese jingle.

Chüeh-hu

Bowed lute with a fingerboard. China.

Chulluchullos

Percussion instrument made from dozens of flattened tin can covers. Bolivia.

Chum Nhac

A small Vietnamese modern bell tree used to produce percussion effects (Courtesy of Khac Chi).

Chunggum

Medium-sized bamboo flute. Korea.

Ciaramella

Double-reed instrument, similar to an oboe, that comes with 7 to 8 holes. It is usually played along with the Neapolitan zampogna (bagpipe). Italy.

Cifte

Double reed pipe. Turkey.

Cimbalom

Box zither with forty-eight strings, which are stretched over a large sounding board and sounded with small hammers. Hungary.

Cirrampala

A wooden stick with a rope tied to it. The mouth is used as the resonance box, vibrating the rope with fingers. Colombia.

Cistro

Spanish cittern.

Citara

Spanish and Latvian zither.

Cittern

A fretted instrument similar to a mandolin, played with a pick. It usually has 10 strings in 5 courses.

Clapper

A percussion instrument formed by two or more elements that are joined together and are struck together to make a percussive sound.

Clarsach

Scottish folk harp, with 25 to 34 strings.

Claves

Two round, polished sticks that are struck one against the other. Cuba.

Cobsa

A short-necked, pear-shaped lute. Romania.

Cobza

A short-necked lute related to the cobsa, derived from the kopuz. Moldova.

Coco

South American wooden block.

Concertina

Small accordion (free reed) instrument from England, usually hexagonal in shape.

Concertina
Concertina

Conga

Conga is a barrel drum played vertically. The conga was originally made from a hollowed log with a nailed-on skin. Later, tunable hardware was added and current dayconga drums are made out of fiberglass as well as wood. The conga is often played in sets of two or three. The drum derived from several African predecessors and is also known as tumbadora. Cuba.

conga
conga

Contra

Transylvanian three-stringed viola. Romania.

Controller

A MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) synthesizer with a piano keyboard. It can be used to control other synthesizers, called tone generators that do not have a piano keyboard.

Cornas de cabra

Goat horn. Ancient Galician instrument used by shepherds. Spain.

Cornemuse

Mouth blown bagpipe with chanter and small drone in one stock, and a separate large drone, from the Bourbonnais region. France.

Corneta china

Chinese bugle. Another name for the trompeta china, or “Chinese trumpet,” used in Cuban comparsas during carnaval (carnival).

Cromorno

Spanish crumhorn.

Crumhorn

Medieval European reed instrument.

Crwth

Old-style Welsh harp.

Cuatro

Cuatro means four in Spanish and refers to a family of four-string guitar instruments derived from the Spanish guitar that are found throughout Latin America. The body is made out of pine or cedar wood. The cuatro is usually strummed rather than plucked.

1. The Cuban cuatro has four courses of double strings.

2. The Puerto Rican cuatro is a guitar originally used in country music (música jibara) and more recently in salsa. Originally, the cuatro of Puerto Rico had only four strings. Around 1875 it was changed to five sets of double strings.

3. The Venezuelan cuatro has four nylon strings.

Puerto Rican-style cuatro
Puerto Rican-style cuatro

Cucharas

Cucharas means spoons. Spoons are used in Spanish folk music as well as in Cuban rumba to play the clave patterns.

Cugenao

Leaf reed. China.

Cuica

Friction drum with a stick attached to the middle of the drum head, which is rubbed by the player with a piece of damp cloth or cotton. The friction on the stick causes the head of the cuica to vibrate and “squeak”. The pitch of the squeak can be changed by applying pressure to the drum head and changing the tension. Brazil.

Cuica
Cuica

Cümbüs

An ud shaped like an American banjo. Turkey.

Cununú

Hollowed treetrunk drum with leather drumhead. Colombia.

Cura

Smallest of the saz family, about 75 cm long. Turkey

Share

Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music