ABOUT THE shekere

This page contains information about the Irie Tones shekere. Although we don't claim that it is exhaustive, we hope it gives you a solid basic understanding of your instrument. If you need clarification or have something you feel would be useful to add, please contact us. We'd be happy to help!

How To Play Your Shekere

Position and Technique - The shekere can be played while seated, standing, singing, or dancing. Hold the shekere by the handle in one hand. With the other hand you can a) tap the head like you would a tambourine, b) lightly pull the strings from the tuft on top, causing the shells to hit the head, c) place the palm on the shells and push them back and forth, d) do nothing, one-handedly shaking the shekere like a maraca. The shekere forms part of the djembe ensemble, and is used throughout religious and cultural ceremonies and celebrations in western Africa.

Caution - Although the gourd is quite sturdy, do not attempt to play it with a heavy beater or tap it against a hard surface. It would be safe to use a light wire hanger as a mallet if needed.

How To Care for and Maintain Your Shekere

  • Transport and Exposure - Although the gourd is quite durable you should avoid exposing it to the elements (direct sunlight, extreme heat or cold, dampness, rain, snow, etc.). Changes in climate, humidity, and altitude will not affect the instrument. Make sure your shekere is well padded for transportation. Avoid dropping it from any height.
  • Cleaning - Your shekere may be cleaned with a damp cloth, but don’t apply cleansing agents or other cleaning tools. Avoid playing with dirty hands or leaving your shekre exposed to sand or soil.
  • Maintenance - Yyour shekere does not require any oils or treatment to keep it in shape. Should any of the strings become broken or unraveled, tie it off with a secure knot, and burn the loose ends with a flame to prevent unraveling.

Brief History of the Shekere

The shekere originated in Africa centuries ago, functioning as a shaker, rattle, and drum. Dried gourds were wrapped in a labyrinth of stones or clay beads, allowing the player to twist or tap the gourd. Some larger gourds had holes in the top and an open handle so the shekere could be used to create drum-like bass notes. Today there are a variety of synthetic shekeres available on the market, as well as those of lesser quality made of plastic or glass beads and gourds. The Irie Tones authentic shekere is of the highest grade available that we are aware of.