About Hand Percussions

Hand percussion refers to any type of percussion instrument from many cultures around the world that is played, held in the hand. A hand percussion instrument can be made from many materials such as wood, plastic, and rattan. it is usually played by shaking, scrapping or tapping with fingers or sticks. Some examples of a hand percussion instrument is a marimba and xylophone.

The word ‘percussion’ has been thought of like a drum set by many people. Hand percussions are perhaps the most primitive members of the instrument family but they can produce the complex sound that is needed to a song. Their complex sound is the reason why hand percussions are still widely used in many music genres around the world. For example, the triangle, shakers, and maracas are very simple to use yet in the hand of an expert can make a melody more alive.

Bali treasures offer a wide range of hand percussion products. Our hand percussions have been exported to many countries around the world and used by many percussionists in performances.

The hand percussion has a crucial part in the history of music as it gives so much color in any type of music that it’s played in. Something astonishing about hand percussions is that it can be used by an expert but it can be used easily by people of all ages. People from all walks of life can easily play this musical instrument although they have never played it before. Hand percussion instruments offer so much musical entertainment that will broaden your musical experiences.

How To Play A Hand Percussion

Hand percussion refers to any type of percussion that is held in hand. It can be scrapped, shaken or tapped with fingers. Playing hand percussion is easy & simple.

Yet to master it and fit the sounds properly into a song or performance require experience and understanding of the complex sounds they can produce. For example, the shaker (percussion) comes in many shapes and made from many materials such as wood or rattan. It can be attached with jingles to add the tones.

A shaker is simply shaken by hands in a rhythm so that the sounds created adjacent to the melody or performance being played. The bigger type of shaker is called Shakere or gourd. This hand percussion is played with two hands holding the shakere and you shake it in rhythm in order to create crackling sounds

There are also scrapper or guiro, triangles, etc. These hand percussion instruments are basically simple to use but need attention and experience so that the unique sound properly adds fun to the song and performance.

How Bali Treasures Makes Hand Percussions

There are many types of hand percussion in the market hence the production process is also quite various. All percussion instruments need different tools, materials, and experienced workers. For example the frame drum.

The Frame drum shell is made from either wood or PVC. Bali Treasures offers a wide range of PVC frame drum sizes. It can also be tuned using the L or Allen key.

The PVC drum shell is cut into a shallow drum shell and a synthetic drum head is attached to it. The drum head is then tightened and glued so that it can maintain its tightness and long-lasting. The PVC frame drum tones resemble the original wooden frame drum tones.

Another example of a hand percussion is the guiro or scrapper. The Guiro is made from fiberglass materials. First, the mold must be prepared for the guiro and from that, a shell will be produced. The workers then use special tools to smoothen the raw shell. After it passes the desired design and size the shell is then painted carefully and attached with a rubber line on the open side. Bali Treasures offer guiros to many percussion players around the world. Its unique sound can add more value to a song playing the instrument and performances.

The History Of Hand Percussions

Hand percussions are widely found in every culture around the world dating before 600 BC. It is used in ceremonial, sacred and symbolic associations. The first style of a hand percussion instrument was simply somebody hitting two objects together to create sounds and rhythms. Drums evolved from this concept and have continued to evolve since this time. Hand percussions are used by major civilizations throughout the world.

The hand percussion instruments have strong ceremonial, sacred or symbolic associations across the world. In Africa certain drums symbolize and protect tribal royalty. They were also used to transmit messages over long distances. Hand percussion also played a major role in medieval and renaissance Europe.

Some hand percussion instruments were used by the military to send a message.

Hand Percussion Instruments

1. Maracas

Maracas are one of the common hand percussion instruments that exist today. Maracas are played by shaking them together in harmony with the rhythm of the song played. As follows, it is considered as one of the easiest hand percussion instruments to play. This hand percussion should typically be played in pairs and one of them delivers a higher pitch in compared to the other one. A pair of maracas create two diverse sounds because of the difference in the number of pebbles within each maraca. The different pitches produced by a pair of maracas generate a unique nuance to the musical performances. Depend on the type of music, a player can either shake it powerfully or gently to be in tune with the rhythm.

Maracas are believed to be invented years ago by Tainos, the native Indians of Puerto Rico. Originally, this hand percussion was made from the fruit of the Higuera tree, gourd shell, dried calabash, or coconut shell and filled with tiny pebbles, beans or seeds. After each of them is filled with an unequal number of pebbles, a handle is attached. In recent times, these hand percussions are made of wood, plastic, leather, and other materials. Traditionally, these percussions are used by the native people of Latin America for religious ceremonies as they generate dynamic sound. Maracas are well-known and widely used in various Latin American countries and as time passed, the use of maracas spread widely through the continent and beyond. It’s used predominantly in salsa music and those people who love salsa music are certainly very familiar with maracas sound.

Over the centuries, maracas have not experienced many transformations in its design. Thus, the original design remains similar to maracas we found nowadays. Along with the rapid development of technology, the attachment of the handler is now sturdier than it was before. In general, the outer side of this hand percussion is painted with bright colors like orange and often painted with a landscape scene.

2. Kalimba

Kalimba is a lamellaphone from percussion instrument family which is believed to be invented in Zimbabwe around 1.000 years ago. Kalimba is a modern version of a traditional African musical instrument called mbira that was manufactured by indigenous Bantu Africans over decades ago. Traditionally, it is used for spirit possession ceremonies that contact the dead ancestors and also for personal entertainment or dance music. This hand percussion instrument was introduced in Europe by Hugh Tracey around the 19th century. Assisted by musicians, Hugh Tracey discovered Kalimba around 1920 when he first came to help his brother in the plantation to Rhodesia or that in recent times is called Zimbabwe. Interested in mbira, Tracey studied and developed this hand percussion with some modern advancement in Europe and was named Kalimba.

This instrument is a box with metal keys attached to the top which delivers a different note or tone in each key. Kalimba consists of seventeen steel tongues or lamellae that have the same width and thickness but have a different length with one another. Those steel tongues or lamellae are held in place with a metal pressure bar that is tightened with a screw to the soundboard. Playing this hand percussion musical instrument is quite easy compared to the other musical instruments. Kalimba is held with both hands and the two thumbs are used to pluck the metal ends to produce beautiful and melodious tones.

In several other countries, Kalimba is integrated with technological advancements so that the sounds produced become more harmonious with louder sound power. The resonator of this wooden reed hole strengthens the sound that comes out of the keys. By adjusting the position of the existing plate, we can produce a higher or lower tone variation. The closer the metal plate is to the wooden reed hole, the lower the tone produced. Otherwise, if the wood is far away from the metal, the sound produced will be even higher. With some practices, you will be able to play this unique musical instrument properly.

3. Tambourine

Originated from the Near East, the tambourine is conceivably one of the easiest hand percussion instruments to play. The tambourine is a musical instrument played by shaking or hitting on the side of the membrane with your hands. Originally, the tambourine was used in religious ceremonies but in recent times it is widely used for music performances all over the world. The word tambourine itself derived from the French word ‘tambourine’ which means drum. There are several techniques to play this hand percussion and it can be played while held by hand or mounted on a stand. Although the tambourine receives some changes since the first time it was invented, the tambourine in recent times still appears similar to the original version.

Tambourine was already commonly known all over Europe in the medieval period and already used in concerts along with the other musical instruments. The tambourine is known as one of the versatile musical instruments since it can be considered as a drum when the player strikes the membrane side, and a rattle when it is shaken by the player.

Crusaders brought the tambourine to Europe in the thirteenth century and caused it to be extremely popular all over Europe. This hand percussion was known by different names in several countries. For instance, for the first time, it was known in medieval Britain, it was called Timbre up until the 18th century. In recent times, it was still massively played by women to accompany their songs and dances. After the 18th century, it was known as the Tablet or Timbrel. Meanwhile, in France and Spain, the Tambourine is called the Pendereta.


Tambourine’s crucial role as a folk instrument in southern Italy has never lessened over the years. Yet, the importance of the tambourine as a part of folk entertainment is not merely limited to Europe. This musical instrument is also found in many other cultures such as Peru, Greenland, China, India, the Caucasus and several countries in central Asia.

Although it is known as one of the easiest musical instruments that ever existed, the player has to know where and how to strike when using the tambourine to produce the tones that they want. The most popular shape of the tambourine is the round or circular tambourine. Yet, there are several creative shapes of the tambourine that can be found in the market today. Tambourine has its way to be one of those popular musical instruments in the world so it can be played to various types of music genres from gospel music to pop music. Not solely limited to those types of music, this hand percussion is also found in Italian folk music, Turkish folk music, Persian music, rock music and samba.

In a musical performance, the tambourine is known to be played by lead singers. But the fact is, they are not the only ones who can play the tambourine because many percussionists and drummers have also played the tambourine by mounting it in their sets. In rock music nowadays, this percussion instrument that is used is drumless in general. It means that it does not have a head in the center and merely has a ring of jingles. The popularity of Tambourines also spread by some of the bands who used them such as the Beatles. Some of the most popular percussionists love to use tambourine as well and make it more well-known as one of the versatile musical instruments today. The versatility of Tambourine and the distinct sound it delivers is making the song which is played more alive.

There are other hand percussion instruments like xylophone, guiro, triangle, and others that are very fun to play with.