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Responsive Tabla for Las Cafeteras

Las Cafeteras. You need to hear them.

Las Cafeteras is a band from LA that Jessica and I first heard in Boston during a Sofar Sounds music event. Since then, we followed the band to Providence, Rhode Island and even to their Yoga Studio in Los Angeles. Needless to say, we are big fans of how they lyrics put words to the emotions first generation latinos feel when balance success in America with staying grounded to their roots. I mean, just look at how expressive they are when they perform!

I was so happy to be able to build an instrument for them: a light-responsive tabla. Here is my niece demo-ing it =)

Zapateo is a type of dance in which a performer stomps on a piece of wood (a tabla). I love tablas because they are beautiful grounding instruments you play with your feet, making noise by stomping, making noise by stepping up to the plate, makig noise by literally taking a stand. But I added a special trait to it just for Las Cafeteras: lights that turn on when you stop. The lights signify movement. I wanted to let Las Cafeteras know that they are catalysts, conduits for change, and that the world is literally reacting and responding to them.

The table is a simple piece of wood. I routed their name and logo in the front, and cut out a large circle to let the sound echo. The LEDs use a microphone placed on the inside. You can change the light color and light brightness manually. You can also set the sensitivity so you either have to tap or stomp on the tabla to make it light up.