Instruments are used to create. They embody the creative potential and spirit of the musician—something that will bring joy in the moment and in the future. The word “instrument” comes from the French verb, instruere, which means to “equip” or “construct.” Instruments require action.

But what about an instrument’s past? Instruments have been characters in wars, journeys, and voices in daily routines for centuries. Today, we learned that rainsticks probably originated with the Diaguita Indians of the Acatama Desert and Andes mountains of northern Chile. Why is this a topic for KI Green?  In the days before modern agriculture, pesticides, and mass irrigation, nature’s voice rang a little louder. The sound of rain, potentially anticipated for months, could mean bounty or demolition—feast, flood, or famine.  What would it feel like to suddenly hear the crack of thunder, followed by a crescendo of pitter patters, break through weeks of dry silence? The Diaguita, an agrarian society known for their cultivation of maize, pumpkins, and beans, lived in one of the driest places on earth. Desperation sparked creativity. They created rainsticks out of dried cactus stalks, used palm needles and beans or seeds, and created the rainstick to coax the sky to rain. Just another interesting reminder of the interconnectedness between man, music, and nature!

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