The Key to Caribbean Music? Clave

The Latin/Caribbean “clave” is the pattern of beats that lays the rhythmic foundation for many genres of Latin music, from Cuban son to Jamaican mento to Puerto Rican salsa and beyond. But the clave is much more than a pattern–it’s a feeling, a motion, an unspoken sense. One may say the clave “originated” in Cuba due to the fact that Cuban “son” music fully embraced it, but really the clave is a pattern that developed in Africa over hundreds if not thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of years, that accompanied African slaves on their forced passage to “the New World.”