Cuica The cuica is a single-head friction membranophone of Brazil. Pictured here are two metal-shelled cuica manufactured by the Latin Percussion company (located in the United States) in the fashion of the highly idiosyncratic Brazilian instrument used in both rural and urban dance ensembles. Arguably one of its most prominent contemporary contexts of usage is in the percussion ensembles (bateria) of Samba schools (escolas de samba), which are a featured element of Carnival celebrations throughout Brazil.

But its distinctive sound can be argued to index Brazil-ness and as a result it is frequently orchestrated into the percussion accompaniment of Brazilian popular music artists and western jazz artists who wish to season their sound with a taste of Brazil. Although manufactured in the U.S., a number of Brazilian companies make similar high-tech models of the cuica.

The shell of the first cuica pictured in the gallery is cylindrical and made of plated sheet metal. Its single mammal-skin membrane is stretched over a flesh hoop slightly wider in diameter than that of the opening in the shell it covers. The drumhead is further tensioned with a heavy metal collar of a slightly smaller diameter than the flesh hoop. This collar has eight piers located around its circumference that accept the top ends of threaded tension rods, which in turn pass through piers on a similar band (a counterhoop) that rests against a ridge in the shell a few inches above the open end of the drum shell. This counter hoop is further secured to the shell with rivets. By turning the bolts at the lower ends of the rods with a key, the amount and evenness of pressure on the membrane can be controlled. In the middle of the drumhead, through a process that involves moistening the membrane before it is attached to its flesh hoop, a nipple is created into which the bulbous head of a bamboo stick is inserted (see the two detail photos). A length of thread is used to secure the bulb in the nipple.