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21 April 2013

How to play the Chicken Shake like a Boss!

A couple of weeks ago I paid a visit to Beverley Music Centre. It was the first time I've ever been to this shop and I shared some ukulele / banjo pictures on Google+ for all the people who like that sort of stuff. I bought a couple of things on my visit, one of which was a "Chicken Shake". Picking it up yesterday I realised that I don't have a clue how to play it. Time to go back to school!

Chicken Shake (R)

Since I can: Here are a number of the pictures I posted from the Beverley Music Centre...

Beverley Music Centre
Tel: +44(0) 1482-881584 Email:
14 Norwood, Beverley, East Yorkshire, HU17 9EZ

Instruments in cages! Somebody needs to liberate these poor unfortunates!

A tidy looking Tanglewood uke with pickup.

What looks like a Tanglewood mandolin on the left
 and a beautiful Luna Guitars concert mahogany "Tattoo"
uke on the right. I've never heard of Luna Guitars. From
their website they look to be a bunch of hippies from
Florida :-D Ha ha... sorry... I guess I won't be getting
any free ukes in the post for that last comment!
Luna do some "groovy" patterned banjoleles too!

Update 24-Apr-2013: As if by some weird twist of
fate, I became aware of an opportunity for one of
you lucky people to win your very own Tattoo Uke.
Check out the website for details
on how to enter. But you'd better be quick...
entries close on 16th May 2013 at 5:00PM. If
you win, please drop me a line... I want to hear
a review of this uke! You can only enter if you
live in the US... pah!

You wouldn't believe how much time I've spent trying to figure out what brand of
banjolele this is. It's bloody expensive whatever it is! It looks to be a modern copy
of the Dallas D, but I can't place the "B" inlay. If you know... please drop me a comment.

Update 21-Apr-2013: It has taken me all day, but I've discovered the maker! These ukes
with the mysterious "B" were made by a local luthier by the name of Eric Beharrall!
I will try and find out more! BTW Thanks to Lardy's Ukulele Database for helping me
to crack this one!

Uke Cases

Various Tanglewood Ukes

Furthest left it a British-made Westfield Banjo. The two in the middle
are Tanglewoods. Not sure what the one on the right is.

Here's a close-up of another blasted "B"
banjolele. A different model this time.

Right! Let's talk about Chicken Shakers!

First let's get to know the instrument a little bit better...

The Egg Shaped Shaker was first patented in the US in August 1996 by Donald Kralik and Wayne Cohen (Patent Number: 5,808215). The design in the patent is a little bit more complicated than the model I have. The patent incorporates a cap to allow for a handle to be added. My Chicken Shake is a sealed unit made up of top and bottom portions that have been joined together.

Egg Shaped Shaker

An egg shaped musical shaker instrument has an egg shaped shell and pellets
enclosed therein. The shell has two parts. A first large shell part includes
an exterior surface forming a large end portion and a central portion. The
first part truncates at a small end portion of the shell and includes an opening
in the truncated small end portion. The second small shell part has a cap
member for closing the opening in the first large shell part. The first and second
shell parts are joined together by an internal joint Which is not exposed to the
external surface of the shell. In a second embodiment, a handle, Which replaces
the second small shell part, is attached to the first large shell part.

Seeing as I'm not an expert in Chicken Shakers, I've been asking around for any hints on how to play the instrument. I got this little bit of misdirection back from +shankti oviedo:

After much searching I think I have found what I'm looking for! I want to introduce you to Jeff Mazingo of Mazingo Music. Jeff manages to give us all we need to know in a sweet 46 second tutorial. Jeff holds a bachelor of music in percussion performance, majoring in the Chicken Shake. (Not all of that last sentence is strictly true).

Be sure to watch right through to the end and you will see Jeff shaking like a Boss!

Jeff makes this look easy. I'm still quite rubbish at it, even with his expert advice!

If you know of more great resources for playing the Chicken Shake, please drop me a comment... I've got to learn somehow!

Update 21-Apr-2013: Thanks to Brother Shankti I have discovered the wonder of Naná Vasconcelos. Here is Naná doing a song called Pó de Chinelo and if I'm not mistaken, that's a Chicken Shaker-like instrument keeping things rolling.

Update #2 21-Apr-2013: I still can't get this right. I just don't have any soul! Fortunately, the gentleman in this video has a few ideas...

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