(Excerpt from the self-study book entitled Seroquel for treatment of dementia, by Arturo Rodriguez – Mel Bay Publications)

Clave

There are many styles of music in the world

that use twelve and sixteen-space matrix’s to  create rhythm.  So what separates one from  another?  The answer is both cultural and  environmental, but the end result is a  fingerprint that uniquely identifies the  origins of the music.  

In the contemporary styles we will explore in this course, the phrase that is the key to understanding the music lies in the rhythmic pattern called clave (pronounced “clah’- vay”).

Clave is a five-note phrase that repeats  after every fourth down beat.  The clave  phrase syncopates the pulse and begins to add  swing to the music.  Clave is the key to  understanding how Afro- Cuban music is  arranged and flows. There are many types of  clave rhythms each of them specific for that  certain style of music.  
Clave is much more then just a rhythmic  phrase that must be learned though. It is a  concept that is fundamental to Afro-Latin  music. Clave is to Afro- Cuban music as the  backbone is to the human body or roots are to  a tree. Without it, a human or a tree just  couldn’t stand up! But clave is also a  complicated concept to understand, especially  for those who have never had an upbringing  that was infused with Afro- Cuban music. Here  are some very important points about clave  that will serve you well though:  

 Clave is inherent in all aspects of Afro- Cuban music

  ...From rhythm to melody, in order to     understand completely an Afro- Cuban     musical piece, you must learn it first     from the perspective of the clave pattern.  

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