My Newest Toy… My Cajon

cajonAside from my iPod Touch I have a new favorite toy. I recently invested in a Cajon (pronounced ka-hone). It’s basically a wood box with a hole on the back. You use it as a drum and play with your hands kind of like bongos only it sounds like a kick and snare. It’s soooo much fun for someone like me who never followed through on those dreaded music lessons as a kid. The best part is it takes up no room because you sit on it to play. When you are done just throw it in it’s bag and walk away with it… no fuss no muss. My model has an adjustment to lift the snare wires off the face for a more bongo sound to the drum.

I picked mine up because I’ve always been a rhythm guy, pounding out beats on my steering wheel usually and I wanted something I could offer acoustically at church, but not have to invest thousands of dollars in a full kit especially since I can’t play a full kit LOL. The best part is there are no rules on how to play except keep things left/right 2 hand as much as possible and play off the head to get the resonance. Other than that if your hands can move you can mimic most beats. Add some egg shakers in one of your socks for a high hat sound and maybe a cymbal on a stand and you are rocking.

There’s even a model with a 1/4″ jack in the back so you can run it through a sound board for total control. I’ve wondered if it could be run through a pedal or to to maybe distort the sound a bit, but I dunno.

Anyway, if you are looking for a great acoustic percussion option that doesn’t break the bank I’d consider a cajon. At the very least you have a conversation piece. Search YouTube too for ‘cajon’ and check out what you can do with it.

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The Infamous Audio Ambush

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m all for free expression and all that. I know people love music. I know people love to share their favorite music. I know that with Web 2.o people want to share their music with the WORLD! That’s all good. I’m all for it. Sign me up!

— BUT —

I have a pet peeve about embedded playlists and music on web pages and blogs, etc. My peeve is about auto-play. I really dislike when a page loads and some speed metal song starts blaring out of my speakers. I’m ambushed and the heart-spasmic panic is just too annoying.

Here’s the problem:

  1. MP3’s are at variable volumes and bit rates. This translates as some MP3’s are soft, some normal, some are on air-siren levels. Also translate this as some sound full, rich and clear. Some sound like an old 1920’s crooner singing ‘Paper Moon’ through an old cheerleader megaphone because amplifiers weren’t invented yet. So, one page I have to turn up my speakers just to hear the song. I do and it was fun but I move on. I surf a bit then go to check a new blog. Suddenly Pantera blares out my computer and scares the living (insert body fluid) out of me.
  2. Most embedded music players are in different spots. This has two problems: One how do I turn off the music and where is the volume control. In the example in #1, I get thrown into panic mode because I have death metal screaming at me and I have no way of turning it off! This panic of course just forces me to turn off my speakers until I can find the music control. After I do I can then pause the song or turn down the player’s volume. But then I have to go through the regime of setting my speakers back to the volume I liked them at.
  3. Some music is inappropriate for little ones. I would appreciate the chance to scan a playlist before Amy Winehouse’s rehab song starts blaring and I have to explain to my 7 year-old son what rehab is.

Now all this being said the fix is simple. If you add a playlist to your site, blog, myspace, facebook, etc. Just remember that other people visit your page at times and it’s just good netiquette to let them control whether they want to hear your Culture Club mix or not. If they want to hear it they will click the play button. But sharing doesn’t mean shoving it down someone’s throat.

Of course all this comes from a web designer/developer’s point of view and is strictly my opinion. Of course if you want to try out my theory, go to my SongSpot widget in the right column and click until you get to the Dream Quest song. Slide the volume up all the way and click play. Imagine that at 11pm hitting you in the face when you least expect it. Shock and awe baby!