"Chocalho" is the Portuguese word for "shaker," and indeed shakers come in many forms, both in Brazil and elsewhere. But when you think about samba, the chocalho is essentially the jingles from a pandeiro mounted on a stick or metal frame so that you can shake them. For the next entry in my series on DIY Brazilian instruments, I give you my super-simple DIY chocalho.
As samba drumming has become a fad over the last few years, several international musical instrument companies have jumped on the bandwagon making Brazilian instruments you can buy here in the U.S. For example, Meinl wants you to pay $79 for their version of what I made for a few bucks. Even their cheapest aluminum chocalho is priced at $49. It's cheaper and more fun to make your own.
Here's what I used:
1. Square-cut wooden stick about 1.5 feet long (any scrap will do).
2. Nails: I used 2-inch nails with big flat heads, something like this: http://amzn.to/2hHASQo.
3. Jingles: I used these: http://amzn.to/2itSmPX, but you could really get crafty and make your own from recycled materials like bottle caps if you'd like.
4. Tape, paint, and super glue (optional)
Step 1: Prepare the Wood, Nail on the Jingles
I found a nice piece of wood in the garbage at work to get started. From there, you can either paint or otherwise prepare the wood. I decided to wrap ming in gaff tape to maybe help the wood from splitting. I have no idea if actually helped, but in any case the finished product looks nice with the black finish.
Next, I just eyeballed the spacing and started nailing on the jingles. I made sure to leave space on the ends for holding the instrument. For my first try (you'll see my second chocalho in the next step), I used commercially available metal jingles (like these: http://amzn.to/2imT5Sa). As you nail them on, be sure that each one is facing opposite the next one (so that concave surfaces face one another and vice versa). If you nail them on facing in the same direction on the same nail, they won't be as loud.
You can see the product of my labor in the photos. I used all the jingles in the package I bought from Amazon hoping that the more jingles, the bigger the sound. Some Brazilians have looked at my chocalho and said it would be too heavy and therefore not very bright. But once they tried it up, they realized it wasn't really all that heavy and all the jingles made a pretty huge and delightfully bright sound.
My second try is in the next step...
Step 2: Finger Cymbals As Jingles?
As I was cleaning out a closet at work, I found a box full of kids' musical instruments. Among them was a bag full of finger cymbals. These are cheap and terrible-sounding finger cymbals; they wouldn't be useful for much of anything. But then I realized they had a nice shape, much like that of real pandiero jingles. So...
I took off the handles and made a chocalho from them using the same principles as before. Unfortunately, though it looks great, this one sounds pretty awful. It's more like "Jingle Bells" rather than batucada. But I guess it was worth a try.
In the end, this is a fun and easy project that can save your samba band a little money. It's nice to experiment with different materials. What can you come up with? Let me know! I look forward to seeing what you've made!