Contextual Associations

The reco-reco is a Brazilian scraper idiophone long used as a rhythm instrument to accompany Afro-Brazilian rural dances, the capoeira game-dance, and Carnival samba. As Brazil's commercial/popular music industry developed throughout the 20th century, the reco-reco came to be used as an auxiliary percussion instrument in a range of other genres and by a number of artists.


The reco-reco pictured here can be considered an industrialized version of an instrument that in the past was made from natural materials such as bamboo or cane. It is made entirely from metal--the resonator half-tube from sheet metal, and the serrated surface from spring coils. The beater is a metal rod.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The resonator is held in the palm of one hand with the coils facing upwards. The metal rod, held in the other hand, is rhythmically brushed up and down the length of the spring coils. This produces a raspy, scrapping sound that is amplified by the resonator beneath the springs.


In its natural form made from cane or bamboo, the reco-reco could have evolved from similar indigenous Native American and African instruments. Early published references to the instrument from the first half of the 19th century (Fryer, p. 166-167) associate them with people of African decent, but the instrument is almost certainly older than that. The instrument's ‘industrialized’ form pictured here is most likely of recent origin.

Bibliographic Citations

Fryer, Peter. 2000. Rhythms of Resistance: African Musical Heritage in Brazil. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press.

McGowan, Chris, and Ricardo Pessanha. 2009. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

n.a. 1984. "Reco-reco [reso-reso, raspador, casaca, catacá]." NGDMI v.3: 215.


Instrument Information


Continent: Americas

Region: South America

Nation: Brazil

Formation: Afro-Brazilian

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

112.212 idiophone--scraped stick with resonator

Design and Playing Features

Category: idiophone

Energy input motion by performer: brushing

Basic form of sonorous object/s for idiophone: coiled spring

Sound objects per instrument: two sounded collectively

Resonator design: separate resonating space shared by multiple sonorous objects - built into instrument

Number of players: one

Sounding principle: scraping

Sound exciting agent: beater/s - metal rod

Energy input motion by performer: brushing

Pitch of sound produced: indefinite pitch

Sound modification: none


13 in. length 10.8 in. length of coils 2.3 in. width 2.5 in. height

Primary Materials

spring - spiral





Entry Author

Roger Vetter