The raganella (Italian for "tree frog") is a percussion instrument common in the folk music of Calabria in southern Italy. Technically, the raganella is a "cog rattle," producing a sound that is enough of a "croak" to have derived the folk name of the instrument from the Italian name of the common tree-frog.


The raganella is about the size of a breadbox and consists of a wooden frame into which are fastened four or five stiff but flexible wooden tines fastened to one side of the frame; the other ends of the tines are struck in rapid succession by a cog-wheel that is turned by a crank handle mounted on the side of the frame.

Uses in Music

Ottorino Respighi asks for one in the first movement of his orchestral work Pini di Roma (Pines of Rome). It is also used in "Gnomus" in Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition". In orchestral percussion writing a ratchet is used as a substitute.

Historical Uses

Instruments of this type resemble the old type of watchman's rattle. A cog rattle up to 2 metres high, the ""matraca"", has been used in Spain, Portugal and the New World, especially to summon worshippers to church. They are used as an alarm signal and as a noise-maker at sports gatherings. They are used universally to scare birds and animals, and in a simpler form to amuse children.[1]


  1. "Ratchet in Oxford Music Online". Oxford Music Online.

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