The Cajon's ancestor is a simple wooden box. During colonial times in South America slaves were prohibited from having drums so wooden boxes were used as percussion. The "rumba de cajon" (dance music) was performed at political and social events. At left is Jose Moreno, playing the Cajon. He uses his hands of course, but also his feet, hitting the front or slightly muffling the sound with his heel.
The size of the modern Cajon is approximately 15' x 10' x 8' and sometimes has one surface that is secured with screws. These can be adjusted so that a rattle or buzz is introduced into the sound. A snare made of metal wire can also be secured inside the box for a similar buzzing effect. In addition, small brass bells are sometimes hung inside the instrument creating a light ringing effect. The player usually sits on the box, holding it between the legs and playing it with a technique similar to the one used on Congas. This instrument has lately become popular in Flamenco music. It is also being used in many other kinds of music and in combination with other percussion instruments. The Kajita, a smaller version of the Cajon, is played while being held on the lap or between the legs.
Hear the Cajon on 'Bop-Ras' and 'Five' from 'Svadharma' .