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A small effects and signal instrument made of natural wood with a powerful and very loud sound. Well suited for events like soccer matches and demonstrations or for impressive musical accents.
The ratchet; or noisemaker, gragger, grogger, raganella ra‘ashan, as it is also called; has a long catholic tradition in German-speaking countries at Easter time. Since during this time the sufferings of Christ are remembered in silence, even the church bells fall silent from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. In order to call the faithful to prayer and to remind them of the service, the children walk through the villages with the so-called Good Friday rattles and whirl them around noisily. This custom is still practiced today in many Catholic communities.
Wherever it is a matter of arousing the interest of the population, the intense sound of the rattle is and was used for both religious and secular purposes. It clacks for example at the Jewish Purim festival when the book of Moses is read. As an alarm instrument, it was used by policemen to warn people of poison gas attacks, while wine growers kept birds away from the vineyards by rattling. Even composers like Mozart, Strauss and Orff used the ratchet in their music. A multifunctional effects instrument!
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