The cajon component of a cajon drum set, (while they can be very effective alone, many drummers add to their cajon set ups for more tonal expression), has its origins in 17th century Peru. Slaves from west and central Africa are thought to have developed the cajon as a musical instrument. One theory is that it is descendant from some of the box-like instruments from Africa and were adapted by slaves in the Americas using shipping crates or whatever was available. Another theory is that the slaves, in an attempt to get around Spanish colonial bans on music, would simply take the boxes they used to carry fruit or work in the ports with and play them whenever they had the chance.
Most cajons these days have strings or a metal snare across the inside of the front board to simulate a snare drum sound. generally the higher on the board you strike it, the higher the pitch.
Usually they are box shaped, but can come in odd shapes designed to enhance the sound produced. They usually have ports or air holes to allow them to breathe.
They are designed to be sat on while played and are often used as the throne/bass drum in minimalist drum set. A pedal can often be added to play the cajon with the foot.
Recently, the cajon is heard extensively in Peruvian music and the modern cajon is played as an accompaniment to a solo piano or guitar. Lately they have risen in popularity in other genres of music.
Because of their compact size and the wide array of sounds you can produce with a cajon, they are popular with drummers who gig in small venues and when low volume is important, such as an acoustic gig.
Cajon brushes are usually nylon brush style sticks that can be used to get a nice 'snare' like sound out of your cajon. Playing your cajon with these will also give you more reach, meaning less strain on your back from bending over.
As the name implies, these are designed to make sitting on the cajon and playing for long periods of time a pleasant experience.
These allow you to play the cajon with your foot, just like a bass drum. This allows you more variety than just playing with your hands.
There is also a regular pedal board type pedal connected to a spring loaded beater via a cable that can be placed next to the cajon for a more normal 'bass drum pedal' feel.
Think of this as a 'mini' tambourine that can be strapped to your foot to give you more sound and color possibilities with your cajon drum set.
Just like the foot tambourine, the foot shaker straps to your foot for more rhythmic possibilities.
DW makes a min high hat stand with a pedal that is perfect for a cajon drum set up.
There are also castanets that can be added to your cajon as well as wood blocks.
Some cajon players will add a splash cymbal on a small cymbal stand to their set up to be played with the hands.
DW even makes a foot playable cabasa that would go great with a cajon, especially for latin music. The possibilities are endless.
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