From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Claves is a percussion instrument (idiophone), consisting of a pair of short (about 20-30 cm), thick dowels. Normally they are made of wood but nowadays they are also made of fibreglass or plastics due to the longer durability of these materials. When struck they produce a bright clicking noise. Claves are sometimes hollow and carved in the middle to amplify the sound.
Claves are very important in Afro-Cuban music, such as the Son and Salsa. They are often used to play a repeating rhythmic figure throughout a piece, known as the clave, of which there are several different variations, each used for different styles of music.
Claves are usually background music, often used in jazz and chorales. They are not usually hit more often than once every two beats..however, this is just a generalization.
Steve Reich's Music for Pieces of Wood is written for five pairs of claves.
The basic principle when playing claves is to allow at least one of them to resonate. The usual technique is to hold one lightly with the thumb and fingertips of the non-dominant hand, with the palm up. This forms the hand into a resonating chamber for the clave. The other is held by the dominant hand at one end with a firm grip, much like how one holds normal drumsticks. With the end of this clave, the player strikes the resting clave in the center.
The clave is usually used in latin music. It is usually played in one of several traditional syncopated clave patterns. Probably the most famous popular song featuring Claves is The Who's Magic Bus.