The Cuica

CuicaAlso known as a puita, boi or onca

There are a number of styles of cuica found around the globe.   It is believed that the cuica was used in Africa as a call for the male lion since the sound mimics the roar of the female lioness. It was introduced to the Brazil by African Slaves, where it found its place in Samba music.

So if you have any lions that want to samba- this is the instrument for you. If you are short a lion, you will still enjoy the great sounds derived from the cuica.

To Play

Hold the cuica so you can reach inside with one hand, while the thumb or finger of the opposite hand is free to manipulate the head. Lightly pinch the bamboo stick with a wetted sponge or cloth. Now rub the stick. Dragging the sponge up and down the stick will vibrate the head and produce the most delightful sounds. To alter the pitch, press one finger as close to the center of the head as possible; the harder you press the higher the pitch. First practice the basic tempo. Rub the stick up and down while counting. Play all low tones, do not press the head. Then Samba, by alternating the pitch High to Low by applying and removing pressure on the head.

Care of the Instrument

Take care of the head, do not let it get damp, and protect it from sharp objects. Do not pull hard on the bamboo. There is no warrantee on the stick. Pulling too hard or holding the stick too tight may dislodge or break the stick. If the stick breaks, you can replace it. Look for bamboo skewers in the grocery store. A small amount of glue will hold it in place.