Maracas are a pair of rattles made from wood, metal, coconut shells, or hollowed-out gourds on sticks. Maracas are usually filled with seeds or pebbles. Although simply designed, they are capable of many different types of sounds through various skillful techniques used by the drummer. They are used to provide a constant pulse in a variety of Latin-American dance styles. Although easy to play, the player needs to develop a technique of flicking the pellets in one mass in order to create a tight sound, so the maraca rhythm can be clearly heard.


The ganzá (xique-xique, tubo) is similar to the maracas – a tube filled with pellets, which is held sideways to ensure an even distribution of the pellets when playing. See also cabasa.