Claves are played as a pair and are traditionally made of wood, however, in more recent years it has become commonplace to find them made of plastic, fiberglass, or even metal. Claves are incredibly important in Latin music and you can usually hear the click of the claves playing the same pattern throughout any given piece of music. Listen carefully for the bright click – that’ll be the claves. In order to get the best sound out of a pair of claves, it is best to allow one of the dowels to resonate by holding it lightly between the thumb and finger tips, allowing it to breathe.
Castanets are best known for their use within flamenco music, and are typically used by singers or dancers. Traditional castanets are made from two pieces of hardwood attached by string. The player would then have a pair in each hand and create a high pitched click noise to create a rhythm. These days it is very common to find handled castanets or machine castanets. Both of these additions to the castanet world are much easier to use and allow almost anyone to create the sound and rhythms that should usually involve quite a bit of skill and technique.