Behold, for it is here.
Hand percussion is by far my favourite of all percussive styles, not least for its immensely expressive nature and all round versatility.
Ever since my first pair of Bongos I have been researching endless kinds of hand percussion.
Yet in truth, I have been searching this past decade for one particular kind of drum that would provide every characteristic I desired.
I was looking for a wooden box, yet also an Udu jug… I was looking for a snare yet also a thumping bass… I was looking for portability yet also presence… basically I was looking for the Ktak.
This drum, which is a variant of the Cajon, is basically a wooden 12 sided box, featuring double sided two-tone surfaces, whereby one side produces a snare effect and the other a fantastically resonant tribal voice.
The instrument is wearable, including an elasticated waist band, thus to be played upon your belly.
Now, while I say “two-tone”, this is only a structural appraisal. In truth the immense sensitivity, yet likewise good robustness of the instrument allows for incredible variation in tonal expression.
From finger tapping, through palm patting, thumb whacking and nail scratching… this beat box does it all… and with passion.
You can play the sides, corners and the edges too!
And yet, it doesn’t even end here.
The incorporated sound hole allows for fantastic Udu type expressive phrases and bassy colours.
If you are not familiar with the Udu, these are traditionally ceramic jugs, featuring sound holes or sometimes skins, which allow for incredible expression, in all ranges, styles and tones.
By partially covering the Ktak’s sound hole with one hand, while drumming with the other, the performer can harness a deepening of the resonance, unto an almost bass like thud.
Furthermore, as just like the Udu, by varying the amount of coverage over the sound hole, say from very partially to completely closed, you will be able to produce an effectively chromatic tonal fluctuation about its resonance.
And still, it goes even further.
Whilst making myself accustomed to the instrument, at first I felt a little frustrated.
I wanted to play the brightly tonal tribal side and yet also I wanted to add some snare into my composition.
Yet unfortunately it appeared that, since “flipping the drum over” takes a fair moment to complete, I could in reality, only play one side at a time when worn about my waist.
Then eureka struck!
For as I was rolling out a 7/4 time, tribal roundabout, it suddenly hit me… literally… in the belly.
As I approached the first beat of the round for the 12th time, something inside me said, “Snap it back.”
Instantly then, I grabbed the whole Ktak with my finger tips, pulled it out from my waist and quickly, in the flicker of an eye, snapped it back against my belly.
Without a shadow of a doubt, I was completely and utterly… sold.
The Ktak is produced in many different colours, in fact even moreso than are shown here.
It is a relatively new style of Cajon and thus it may be some time before they become ubiquitous… but, which they will.
I managed to pick mine up from Promenade Music at an absolute bargain price.
You might also find them on Amazon, but of course, beware of imitations.