Music is an art, an organised sound, an unspoken language that has the power to express infinite emotions. Latin American music adds the element of romance to this genre. Guiro is one such musical instrument which lends support to this idea. A handheld percussion instrument, the Guiro fits into one hand and is struck by the other hand, with the help of a cue, called a scraper. An essential part of the dance form such as the salsa, it is played along with the claves and needs the players to sound it at the precise moment. A simple instrument made from dried gourd in the earlier days, the Guiro is an important part of Cuban and Latin American music. Let us learn more....

How did it originate?

Earlier versions of Guiro musical instrument were carved out from dried gourd which is a vegetable. Today Guiros are made from metal, wood, plastic and fibreglass.  The Guiro along with other musical instruments such as claves and cymbals are part of traditional Cuban, Puerto Rican and African music and is also known as reco–reco.

How does it work?

Hollowed body of the Guiro is held in one hand and the scraper is held in the other. Sound of the Guiro is produced when the scraper is brushed or scraped against the notches or parallel lines which are carved on one side of the Guiro. The notches form a ribbed pattern on the sides of the instrument. On one side the ribs are close set whereas on other side they are set apart.  This difference in layout produces two different sounds.

What are its components?

The Guiro is made of a hollowed body made of either wood, plastic or any metal and fibre accompanied by  a scraper made of similar material. 

How is it manufactured?

Traditional Guiros were carved out of dried gourd. Modern Guiros are made from metal, wood, plastic and fibreglass. Made into a hollowed oblong or cylindrical shape, a rib like pattern is carved out on either sides of the hollow body. Today most of the Guiros are machine made whereas the earlier ones made from dried gourds were handmade.

Which genre of music is it popular with?

A Guiro is an important part of Cuban, Latin American and African music played to the accompaniment of salsa and son dance forms. Guiros are also played in orchestras. Not a part of melody, they are more played as festive noisemakers.

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