Castanets are a simple but fascinating instrument. They can be played without a deep knowledge of musical theory. But to become a professional castanet player, it requires years of practice. However, once you have managed the simple basic technique of how to play castanet, you will be able to enjoy the sounds of one of the most joyful instruments in creation.
First of all, it is necessary to say that in the pair of castanets, there is one with a bass sound and another one with a more high pitched sound. So, both castanets of the pair don’t sound alike. They can be distinguished by a mark, usually carried in the upper side of the one that has a deeper base sound.
Both Castanets sides are tight together by a string. This loop is supposed to go around the pinky, leaving the rest of the fingers free to tip on the castanets. There are different kinds of tipping on the castanets, hence producing different sounds. Castanet in the right hand is played with the fingers: pinky, ring, middle and index. Start slowly hitting the castanet with the little finger, and then the ring finger. Next hit it with the middle finger and finally with the index. In this simple way you will get 4 distinctive basic sounds, which later will become the basis of major castanet pieces of music, as simple as that.
If we hit at once with the ring and the middle finger, we obtain a sound called as TIN. On the other side, the castanet played with the left hand must be hit with the ring and middle finger together. This sound is called TAN. As simple, and as complex as that, castanets provide a variety of sounds which form a major part of most Flamenco pieces.