When you're 14 and want a cajón drum what do you do?
Well if you are Daniel Ogden you head into your father's woodworking shop and you make one.
And then if you are creative, as Ogden is, you make some improvements to the design, and launch your own company selling the drum you have created.
"I wanted a drum, that's how it all started," he said, adding with limited funds to make the purchase "I thought it was a good idea for me to try and build one."
The drum Ogden, who lives at Invermay, SK., wanted was a cajón design.
A cajón (Spanish pronunciation: (Ka-hone), means 'crate', 'drawer', or 'box with a hole in it'). It is a six-sided, box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Perú, played by slapping the front or rear faces with the hands, fingers, or sometimes various implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks.
"The cajón is the most widely used Afro-Peruvian musical instrument since the late 18th century. Slaves of west and central African origin in the Americas, specifically Perú, are considered to be the source of the cajón drum; though the instrument is common in musical performance throughout some of the Americas and Spain," detailed Wikipedia.
"The cajón was developed in coastal Per during the periods of slavery in Perú, where it is associated with several Afro-Peruvian genres. The instrument reached a peak in popularity by 1850, and by the end of the 19th century cajón players were experimenting with the design of the instrument by bending some of the planks in the cajón's body to alter the instrument's patterns of sound vibration.
"The cajón was created by the African slaves brought to work on the coast of Perú. The slaves were forbidden to play music and therefor developed instruments that could be easily disguised as ordinary objects or tools. Originally the cajón was made of shipping crates of fruit and other articles from the Caribbean."
Ogden said the basic square crate design he made to start with created a sound that was underwhelming, far from what he had hoped for.
"So I started thinking how I could make the design better," he said.
The drum design went through a few 'prototypes' with each "making the design a little better," he said.
Daniel's father Mark said his son has always been interested in building things, with his first musical instrument actually being a harp. He said his son wanted a harp, but it was beyond their budget.
"So he built one," said Mark.
A banjo would follow, and then the interest in the cajón drums took root.
Mark said "it was exciting" watching his son going through the process of steadily refining his vision for what a cajón drum could be.
Daniel said his goal in design was twofold, to improve the sound from the drum and to optimize the musical options it could provide.
The first step was to expand the play surface of the cajón design. The traditional cajón drum is played by slapping the front surface.
"I wanted to broaden what the playing experience could be," said Daniel.
To increase the options Daniel said his drum can be played by not just slapping the front of the drum, but the sides too. The changes broadens the sounds which can be created.
"You have more playing surface with my drum," he said.
But Daniel said he still was not satisfied with the sound from the front, noting it was too high-pitched, or 'tinny' to his ear.
So Daniel said he went back to the basics, studying sound, and in particular drum sound. He said what he found was that drums are normally round for a reason.
"What do you see with every drum kit? They're all round," he said, adding "… sound likes to work in curved spaces not squares ones."
So Daniel made a design change to his drum, curving the sound. He said the outside still "looks squarish" but inside the drum is much more round than a traditional cajón drum.
The change has given his drum a fuller sound, more akin to what you'd expect from a drum kit, said the designer.
Daniel has also worked with different woods to see which makes the best sound.
"The tone is better in maple," he said, adding that it is more expensive, but worth it.
The whole process of design and refinement took about two years, but has reached the point Daniel believes he has a unique cajón drum, one worth marketing to a much broader audience.
"It's really something I thought I should take and market out there," he said, adding the design is unique to the marketplace, and one he has started the process to patent.
Daniel added, "cajón drums are really big … right now." He said they are popular with acoustic musicians, and since they are highly portable, buskers are big fans too.
Admittedly "cajón drums are not a big thing in Saskatchewan," said Daniel, but he sees his market as worldwide. He said the drums can be made in Invermay "and shipped off to wherever they need to go."
With his drums Daniel hopes to broaden the appeal to more musicians by offering an electric model, one which can be tied into a stage sound system.
To that end Daniel has been marketing through music stores in Saskatchewan, as well as online through his own website (www.soulsbeat.com) and has also launched a crowd funding project at Kickstarter.com (www.kickstarter.com/projects/soulsbeat/beatbox-cajon-drum-kit-in-a-box)
The goal of the Kickstarter initiative is to raise $60,000, money needed to purchase shop equipment to streamline production to take the drums to a larger market.
Daniel said looking for crowd funding has been a learning experience of its own.
"You don't really get traffic off Kickstarter," he said, adding you need to build a base through other social media networks, who then follow you to the crowd funding project. As a result, Daniel said he may not achieve his goal this time, but added he hopes to learn enough to see the project be successful in the future.
Anyone interested in Daniel's drum can contact him at soulbeat....@gmail.com