Rhythm in a box: The story of the cajon drum - Paul Jennings
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Afro-Peruvians are people of Peru who are descended from African slaves who were brought to South America by the conquistadores in beginning in the sixteenth century and ending in 1850.
In the early part of the South American slave trade African slaves were made to perform mostly unskilled labor, which included construction of roads, bridges, and buildings. Afro-Peruvians working in urban areas were maids, cooks, gardeners, and shipyard workers. It is most likely that the cajon was born among the shipyard workers of coastal Peru.
Who were the individuals who first played Afro Peruvian music? Some of the pioneers of Afro-Peruvian music and the cajon include: Nicomedes Santa Cruz who was originally a blacksmith born in Lima, Peru in 1925. He became a poet and composer renowned for bringing public awareness of the Afro Peruvian music and culture. Rafael Santa Cruz was the nephew of Nicomedes Santa Cruz and in modern times was one of the main spokespersons for the Afro Peruvian culture and the cajon. He was the author of the book El Cajón Afroperuano.
Want to hear more music? Listen to Caitro Soto who was an Afro Peruvian cajon player and musician born in the Cañete Province of Peru in 1932. He was known for his famous version of the Peruvian folk song, "Toro Mata". Soto played "Papá Carlito", a resident of the leper colony at San Pablo, Peru in the film The Motorcycle Diaries. He was also a member of Peru Negro. Peru Negro is a musical ensemble formed in 1969 to celebrate and preserve the Afro Peruvian tradition.
Interested in learning to create your own music with this unique and historical instrument? Go to Learn how to play cajon with playcajon.org. Paul Jennings founded the website in 2011 to provide an online learning resource for people who want to learn cajon. You can also visit The Play Cajon YouTube channel that provides a free and easy resource for cajon lessons and other educational percussion videos.
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