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The origin of the Peruvian drawer: How is the drawer played?

by Shopify API March 24th, 2018

The origin of the Peruvian drawer: How is the drawer played?

One of the most complete percussion instruments we can find is the Peruvian drawer, let's see how it works, the sounds it produces and how not, the origin of this cultural heritage instrument of Peru.

The drawer is an Afro-Peruvian instrument, this means that it was created by Africans in the lands of Peru. This happened during the Spanish colonization, these Africans were brought as slaves and among the things that forbade them was to play music with their drums. The Catholic church burned all the drums found and erased the African drum record from 1813 until there are signs of the drawer in 1850.

Being the rhythm for the Africans indispensable to sing their songs they were made of any object in order to produce rhythm, as well as spoons, tables, hollow pumpkins ... etc. It was then that they saw in the wooden boxes where merchandise was transported a wonderful element to make rhythms.

The main rhythms played with the drawer are the zamacueca and the nonsense dances originating in the central and northern coast of Peru. In the nineteenth century the drawer lacked a definite form but Porfírio Vázquez, a black Afro-Peruvian musician, standardized his current form. Afro-Peruvian rhythms that use the drawer are the celebration, the aguenieve, the panalivio and those sounds of sweet-cheerful cut clearly Afro-Peruvian.

Some time later the drawer would take another course towards Europe, the flamenco drawer being born, but we will leave that topic for another blog.

How is the Peruvian drawer played?

While playing a drum that seems to have only one sound can be played in a thousand ways, a drawer requires many more techniques.

  • The grave sound: It is achieved by hitting between the center of the drawer and the top (although the place where it sounds best depends on each drawer). Some hit with the flat hand and others do it by cupping the hand like the palm of the congas.
  • The sharp sound: It is achieved by hitting on the top of the front wood of the drawer, where it joins the upper horizontal. Each drawer sounds different and has its sounds in different places, depending in the case of the high-pitched sound of how and where the wood is nailed. The sound is achieved with the relaxed hand, the fingers ajar and tapping with a slight inclination of the hand to make the little finger be the first to hit and the index the last, which achieves a sound with support (flam) with one hand.
  • The third sound. On the other hand, María del Carmen Dongo ensures that there is a third sound that can be produced from the drawer. In effect, the feeling of Mary, who prints in the process of giving and receiving stimuli and responses reaches in her hands an impressive symbiosis. This is why this percussionist despite using an instrument that could be considered as coarse and even male does not have calluses, nor does he hurt his hands, has no bone or inflammatory problems. She works the rebound of both her hands and that of the drawer.

    The drawer can be taken anywhere and is good to accompany all kinds of music. Watch this video of our friends the Anxolotes that have used it to cover CCH-Oriente in Mexico City, they only needed a ukulele voice and a Peruvian drawer.



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