Time to order your castanets!

There are few more Spanish sounds than the “click” of a pair of castanets. Their rhythm is the bedrock of flamenco. Ordering your first pair of castanets can be overwhelming. Our castanet guide will help you get started.

Which brand? How much do they cost?

Filigrana and Castanuelas del Sur are the two leading brands in Spain, but there are more brands to choose from. This info and size chart is based on these two brands.

castanets-filigrana1

As with flamenco shows and even more so with castanets, the sound quality and how easy it is to play them will depend on finding a right fit for your hand size and on the quality of the castanets. Prices range roughly between $50 (amateur) and $1200 (top of the line professional concert castanets)

Which size ?

You probably have an idea of your hand size, and you know if your hands are medium or average size, particularly big or particularly small. If you are not sure or if your hands are between medium and small or medium and large, please use the chart below to measure your hands, itmay help you when choosing your size. Although choosing a size is something rather personal, my recommendation for beginners is to go smaller if you are on the grey zone between sizes. Most of you will need the standard size, which is 4 in an amateur or semi-professional quality and a 5 in professional qualityIn the professional range, this is because castanet measurements vary depending on the design as you can see at this link http://www.donflamenco.com/en/castanuelas-del-sur-medida/

castanet-sizechart

Here is a link to FILIGRANA BRAND CASTANETS:

https://www.flamencoexport.com/flamenco-best-sellers/castanets/castanets-filigrana.html

Here is a link to CASTANUELAS DEL SUR BRAND:

https://www.flamencoexport.com/flamenco-best-sellers/castanets/castanets-castanuelas-del-sur.html

Where to order?

There are many portals to choose from. FlamencoExport for example (links above) has generally a good and fast service (3 business days). You can order these brands pretty much all over the web.

How do I play them?

There are five basic sounds that make up almost all the rhythms used to play castanets. The dominant hand (female castanet) is your right hand if you are right handed, and your left hand if you are left handed. It does a lot more work than the other hand. The male castanet has a lower tone than the female castanet.

  1. “TA” (tah) It is achieved by striking the ring finger and then middle finger of the left hand (male, non dominant hand) quickly on the castanet.
  2. “RRI” (ree) This sound is produced by striking the castanet in your right hand or dominant hand with your little finger, ring finger, and index finger in rapid succession.
  3. “PI” (pea) “PI” is identical to “TA” except that it is done with the opposite hand.  You can do it by hitting the castanet in your dominant (or female) hand with your ring finger and then with your middle finger.
  4. “CHIN” You can create this sound by hitting the castanets against each other.
  5. “PAN” This is generally used to end a rhythmic sequence, as it has a good ending sound. To achieve this sound, use your ring and middle fingers to strike both castanets simultaneously.

You will find  many videos online explaining how to play castanets.

The craft of handmade castanets

Few know the complexity and craftsmanship involved with castanets better than Juan Vela. He started in the business at the age of seven and is the fourth generation of his family to practise the trade. Now, with more than 50 years experience, Juan is almost unique in making castanets in the traditional way. BBC News visited Juan at his studio in Seville to find out more about the art behind this captivating sound.