When Africans were brought as slaves to the Americas, they were stripped of everything that made them human, including their music and musical instruments.
However, indomitable spirit of the Africans found a way around this. The cajon was born out of the creativity of slaves in Latin American countries who desperately needed music in their lives.
They realized that old boxes and crates could be transformed into instruments that resembled traditional African drums. Discarded junk was quickly turned into the earliest versions of cajons. (In Spanish, “cajon” translates as “box” or “drawer.”) Add a hole for sound in the back of it, and they had the earliest versions of the cajon.
Players altered the cajon to create a variety of sounds: strings on the inside of the box created buzz to the sound. Bells were added near the cords for extra sonic flare.
The cajon was introduced to Europe and America at the beginning of the 20th century. The flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia learned of the cajon while on tour in Peru. He brought the instrument back to Spain, and soon cajons were integrated into flamenco music as the main source of percussion.
The simplicity and purity of the cajon makes it accessible to everyone, from trained musicians to absolute beginners. Cajons can be played simply, but they can also create inspiring wild rhythms and add layers of depth to whatever genre of music you are playing.