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Mercedes' Bongos

by Mercedes H.

The name of my instrument is the bongo. I got the idea to make a bongo because my Mom has an African drum and I thought it would be nice to make one. The bongos belong to the percussion family. Bongos usually come in pairs and are held between the knees. My bongos look like two small drums connected to each other. It has a low pitch and has a slower rate of vibration than instruments with a high pitch. The hollow body of my bongo gives it resonance.
Before I could begin my project, my Mom bought two small canisters and a roll of 2 ply natural jute at the dollar store. I thought the jute would give my instrument more of an African look. I also used green, red, and black paint that my Mom borrowed from work for the same reason. I used some beads that I already had at home.

I wrapped the jute around the two canisters in a figure eight motion, while my mother monitored me. When I finally made it to the top, I couldn't knot it, so my mother did it for me. I used a latch to add a string to each drum and then I put on some beads. This is where I ran into trouble, because the holes on the beads weren't wide enough. I had to stretch out a paper clip and force the string through the beads. I took my time and painted red and green triangle on the drum head with black dots in the center.

To play my instrument you must place it between your knees. When hit by the hand, the drum head vibrates. This vibration cause the air near the drum head to start moving in waves. The larger the drum, the deeper the sound. The harder you hit the bongos, the higher the volume will be. Unfortunately, you can not change the pitch of my bongos because you can not loosen or tighten the drumhead. The only way to lay my instrument is with flattened hands. (Note: Mercedes used mallets in the music room. See picture.)

So, in conclusion, I found this project to be very entertaining because now I have an instrument to play with. The things I liked about making this musical instrument is that I got an opportunity to show my creativity. My Mom even said that I could keep my instrument in the living room as decoration. I learned that bongos come from an Afro-Cuban origin and that Africans danced to the beating of the drum and sent messages by drum code from tribe to tribe.