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How many claves are there?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:16 pm
by Yuca
1. Son clave and rumba clave - 2 different claves or 2 variations on the same thing?

2. Do other rhythms count as claves? E.g. 6/8 bell pattern, guajira clave, danzón clave. Personally I think they're repeating patterns but - as I understand it - their rhythms are not implied by the other instruments and arrangements, so they're simply rhythms/patterns/motifs and not claves. (N.B. I only know of guajira clave and danzón clave because someone mentioned them to me whilst trying to prove to me that there are many different claves.) The only claves I consider to be claves are son clave and rumba clave. But you're welcome to correct me!

Thanks for the opinions.

Re: How many claves are there?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:10 pm
by burke
Definitely my opinion would be that Son and Rumba are two different claves

I would also consider 6/8 clave a third one ... I can see how that could be debated though. Also isn't there a Brazilian or Bossa clave?

Are you familiar with "The Clave Matrix", by David Penalosa? He was [maybe still is] a member. I have it but haven't gotten into it yet ... too intimidating :)

If you like deep clave theory discussions go through David's past posts ... heavy and often over my head, but like I said deep thoughts when it comes to clave.

Re: How many claves are there?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:37 pm
by Chtimulato

My 2 cents : I would also say there are four different claves : son, rumba, 6/8 and bossa nova. The last one can also be played in 3/2 and in 2/3, but I think the 2/3 direction swings better.

Re: How many claves are there?

PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:43 am
by jorge
Here are a couple more Cuban claves that are true claves, not just rhythms played on claves, bell or sticks. The entire song is built around the clave.

Abakua has a clave, played on a bell, different from rumba clave and 6/8 claves used in bembe or guiro.

If you thought they were the same, you can hear the switch from rumba clave to abakua clave at 2:09, from 4/4 feeling of guaguanco to 6/8 feeling of abakua.

Clave de Changui is another one, different from the others we have listed.

Re: How many claves are there?

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:43 am
by jorge
There are definitely more than 2 claves in Cuban music. Try playing son clave or rumba clave with a changui group from Guantanamo and you will quickly (but politely) get kicked out of the song, as I experienced first hand in La Habana a couple of months ago sitting in with Son del Guaso. There is a distinctly different clave in Changui that is neither son nor rumba clave, as demonstrated by Taberas, director and bongocero of Grupo Changui de Guantanamo, in the track I posted. He really does know what he is talking about.
Likewise, if you play rumba clave in Abakua it will sound wrong. Rumba clave is 4/4 and has a different feel from Abakua clave which is 6/8 (but is not the same as the 6/8 bell parts you play in bembe or guiro). The easiest to hear difference is in the last 2 beats of the (3/2) rumba clave and Abakua clave. Listen to Yoruba Andabo track I posted, in the other Abakua track it is harder to hear the clave (ekon) playing. The Abakua clave will fit cleanly in the standard 6/8 bell (guiro or bembe) part but the rumba clave won't.

Re: How many claves are there?

PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:40 pm
by jorge
To answer the OPs first question, in my experience and opinion, son clave is definitely different from rumba clave, they have a different feel and are played in different types of songs. If you play rumba clave in a son, it sounds wrong and kills the "son" feel of the song. Likewise, playing son clave in a rumba doesn't sound right and the third beat (3/2) falls on top of the tumbador open tone, making it harder to hear that clave beat and killing the swing of the rumba.