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Claves

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Continued from product description on Folk Instruments' Page Four...

Historical Background: Claves are two pieces of wood that are approximately eight inches long and one inch in diameter. The type of wood used is usually a hardwood although ebony and hard pine are sometimes used. Their sound is produced by striking the claves together, with the cupped palm of the hand providing resonance. This sound is heard over all other instruments! Claves help carry the rhythm as well as direct the melody and the steps of dancers. In fact, it is the claves' syncopated rhythmic pattern(s) around which musicians revolve.

Claves originated in Africa and their use has, over the years, been extended to the Americas and Europe. According to Emilio Grenet, "they are the only instrument which can be adjusted with every type of Cuban melody." The Claves' sound is similar to wooden blocks used in North America. While claves do not look like a sophisticated musical instrument, it is considered a true art and the base of all danceable rhythms.

Claves are an important part of Cuban music, which evolved from a unique set of historical and social circumstances. When African slaves, who were brought over to work on Cuban sugar plantations, outnumbered the European colonists, Cuba's culture began to change -- especially Cuban music. Modern Cuban music came about from the mingling of two cultures: African and European. Whereas Europeans introduced flutes, trumpets, guitars, and violins, Africans introduced congas, bongos, and claves. Together, they produced a hybrid music that would be identified as unique as it is rhythmic.

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Claves
Claves
Item Number 5403

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