The cuica is a unique Brazilian “friction drum” that a skilled performer can use to make such a variety of squeaky tones that the instrument sounds like it’s talking, or perhaps even laughing. The cuica is a drum that has a wooden or bamboo stick attached to the center of the drumhead. The musician holds the drum under one arm, puts his or her other inside the drum and rubs the stick with a wet cloth, manipulating the skin of the drum to change the pitch.

The origin of the cuica is unclear–research has traced it to Spain, to Muslim traders and to Bantu parts of Africa–but there is agreement that African slaves introduced it to Brazil. Today it is one of the most popular instruments in samba.


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