A cabasa, also called an afuche or a xequebum, is a Latin percussion instrument that is a cross between a shaker and a scraper. The traditional form is a gourd with beads or small shells strung in a fine set on the outside of the gourd to which is attached a round handle. A metal cabasa is strung with necklaces of metal beads that surround a corrugated cylinder.


To play the cabasa fluidly, the handle is cradled lightly in the dominant palm, the round head laid gently in the palm of the other hand and the handle twisted right, left or back and forth to get the desired effect. Alternatively, the cabasa can be raised and lowered to create a sustained sound reminiscent of ones made by the drummer's hi hat cymbals. Typically, percussionists play the cabasa on the off beats, although experienced performers will feel comfortable playing it as the music moves them.


See also maracas.