A rainstick is a long, hollow tube which is filled with small baubles such as beads or beans and has small pins arranged helically on its inside surface. When the stick is upended, the beads fall to the other end of the tube, making a sound reminiscent of a rainstorm as they bounce off the pins. The rainstick is generally used to create atmospheric sound effects or as a percussion instrument. NOTE: Because of shipping problems in the past, we no long ship Dobani Rain Sticks outside the United States.
The rainstick is generally considered to have been invented by Chilean natives in South America, and was played in the belief that it could bring about rainstorms. It was also used in 1521 by the Spaniards along the south coast. According to South American legend, rainsticks are played to serenade the gods as a reminder that rain is welcomed.
The materials used to create a rainstick vary depending on cultural traditions and the plants and materials available locally, and also the cost of production in bulk manufactured rainsticks. Traditionally, a rainstick is made from the dried stem of a cactus, the spines of which are pulled out, reversed and then pushed back in. Chilean craftsmen use the remains of dead Quisco and Copado cactus. Small pebbles or gravel fill the rainstick and strike the spines as they fall. Metal nails are also frequently used however natural cactus spines give a more tonal, musical sound. Rainsticks may also be made from the stems of bamboo plants.
The rainstick can either be tilted, allowing the beads to fall, creating an atmospheric effect like the sound of rainfall - intensity varying with angle. It can also be tapped to make a more controlled sound, or it can be used to create percussive rhythms as a shaker (an instrument so called because the method of creating sound involves shaking them back and forth rather than striking them).