Used in Latin American music, but also by artists from David Bowie to The Rolling Stones, it’s idiophone made of resonant gourd or wood, or sometimes metal, it is held through holes making a rhythmic, ratchet sound by scraping a stick across specially created ridges. With origins in central America - the Caribbean, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico and Ecuador, it creates a signature sound of Latin American music, and is closely related to the Cuban guayo and the Dominican güira, which are made of metal, as well as he Colombian guacharaca, the Brazilian onomatopoeic reco-reco, the quijada (cow jawbone) and frottoir (washboard).
Some come in ornate designs:
The güiro particularly plays a key part of the feel of son, trova and salsa music. Here's Alejandro Sol demonstrating a basic technique and rhythm:
And here it is in context, with Chico Alvarez from the 2007 album Putumayo (2007):
But it also features very effectively when adopted in other genres, especially in intros. Here' Steely Dan and Do It Again:
How about some reggae? Here's Max Romeo, with the classic Chase The Devil:
The Rolling Stones, of course, and the beginning of Gimme Shelter:
The Drifters with Under The Boardwalk:
R.E.M and Electrolite:
And David Bowie brings it in during the first verse of The Man Who Sold The World:
And there are many other examples out there. It even occurs in Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Care to scrape the memory banks to find more? Feel free to share other examples in songs, instrumentals, on albums, or other contexts in comments below. You can also get in touch the contact page, and also visit us on social media: Song Bar Twitter, Song Bar Facebook. Song Bar YouTube. and Song Bar Instagram. Please subscribe, follow and share.
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