This is Mestre Oswaldinho da Cuíca in the event Virada Cultural 2010 killing it with the cuica drum:

Now that you seen it and listen to it, I’ll let you know what is happening here.
This is a musical instrument called Cuica (sounds like kooweeka and no, it’s not the name of an up and coming startup in Silicon Valley).

“The Cuica is a Brazilian friction drum with a large pitch range, produced by changing tension on the head of the drum. Cuíca is Portuguese for a type of small opossum which is known to make a high-pitched sound. It is most often used in samba music. The tone it produces has a high-pitched squeaky timbre. It has been called a ‘laughing gourd’ due to this sound. Many also claim that the cuica has a “monkey” sound” – From Wikipedia.

Pretty weird, huh?

Nobody knows for sure where this musical instrument was invented. Some attribute it to Bantu slaves, some to Muslin traders and some even say it comes from Spain. Who knows. What we know for sure is that it was introduced to Brazil by African slaves.

Cuica Drum: The GOATs love it

You probably heard it before since Quincy Jones‘s ubiquitous Soul Bossa Nova played incessantly during the height of Austin Powers’s popularity. This howling sound at the beginning of the song is it:

You can also hear the cuica drum monkey sound in Miles Davis’s Feio (which means ugly in Portuguese)

Also, The Little Blue Frog from the same record.

On The Rolling Stones’s Dance Pt. 1

Bird of Beauty, a classic by Stevie Wonder also has some cuica drum going on. Note that Stevie Wonder sings in Portuguese in this song.

Beastie Boys – Lighten Up

Beastie Boys – 20 Questions Version

Bezerra da Silva – Bicho Feroz

Bezerra da Silva – Cobra Criada

Dizzy Gillespie – Samba

Magic Drum Orchestra – Sunshine of Your Love

Nature – James Brown

Os Mutantes – Adeus, Maria Fulô

Master, Jorge Ben Jor, has an incredible collection of tracks showing you how it’s done.

cuica drum brazilian instrument monkey sound jorge ben jor

Illustration by Tag Brum

Jorge Ben Jor – Taj Mahal

Jorge Ben Jor – Xica da Silva

Jorge Ben Jor – Meus Filhos, Meu Tesouro

Céu – O Ronco da Cuica

Joao Silva – Maria

Chico Buarque – Samba de Orly

Chico Buarque – Desalento

Did we miss a great track? Let us know on Twitter! @punchland