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What is a rainstick?

 

A rainstick is an instrument, that when played, sounds very much like rainfall. How is that achieved? Gravity, which causes rain to fall and hit the earth, is the same force behind sound in the rainstick. “Rain” in a rainstick, however, is not water, but small bits of pebbles, seeds, or sand and the like. These are contained in a cylindrical shaped vessel that has spikes or sticks pierced through for the “rain” to fall and strike when flipped upside down. All of those little impacts add up to a wash of sound that is soothing and emulates rainfall. The idea of the rainstick is likely an ancient one, and traditional examples are made out of naturally-found cylinders: hollow cacti, bamboo, and other natural tubes. Making basic rainsticks is a go-to children’s craft time project that calms a busy room. One thing all rainsticks have in common is they are easy to play—you just flip them over!

 

I started making rainsticks in 2012 when I was a master’s student in music in The Hague, Netherlands. Inspiration came from an empty mailing tube, as I thought, “Already halfway to being a rainstick!” My first attempt, however, left something to be desired—both sonically and visually. Years later, like a musician finding their voice, I've experimented and reworked the design to it's current state. I hope you enjoy the song of the spiral rainstick. I’ve let it lead my dreams; let it lead you into yours!

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