3 2 clave refers to the number of times you will hear the clave on a count of 8 beats. This is the tempo used in many salsa songs. Therefore, it pays to know how to recognise the patterns of the clave in a song.
The clave are two sticks that produce a sound when played one against the other. This instrument is vital to many Afro-Cuban music and dance as it is the quintessential link between the musicians and the dancers.
1. What is a 3 2 clave?
A typical salsa song is made of two measures of 4 beats each. On these 8 beats, the clave is played 5 times. Tree times on the first measure and twice on the second one.
For a salsa or rumba dancer it is important to know that pattern. Otherwise, it will be complicated to dance on beat. The first beat is particularly important since it indicates the beginning of the “looping pattern” of the instrument and the song in general. Therefore, if you can spot when the first beat happens you will be able to dance on beat. Note that even for those who dance on 2 (who use the second beat of the basic salsa step to break), they still need to know when the first beat happens
2. 3 2 clave for Rumba
The 3 2 clave pattern you will hear in a rumba song will be similar to the one you hear in a salsa song. To get a better picture, you just need to imagine rumba as being an ancestor of salsa. In fact, in my opinion, rumba is more than just an ancestor, especially since it is widely played in Cuba. This is an important musical style for anyone who really to learn how to dance salsa on beat, because it uses the 3 2 clave patterns extensively and is not hindered by too many other instruments. Which therefore means it’s the perfect music to train yourself to recognise the clave.
🎶 How is it counted
On the first measure the clave resonates three times. We can hear it on the 1st beat. Then on the & between the 2nd and 3rdbeat. Finally, on the & just after the 4th beat.
The clave is then heard twice on the second measure (beat 6 and 7).
3. 3 2 clave for Son
The clave pattern for Son differs slightly from the one for Rumba. But before we delve into the difference, what is Son?
🎶 What is Son
Son is a traditional ballroom dance that originated from Cuba in the early 20th century. It has a slower pace than salsa and is executed across different spectrum. Indeed, we have the circular motion that is so typical of this dance. Or the forward/backward motions that are executed on multiple 8 beat counts. Which is different from salsa that tend to have half the 8-count executed forward and the other half backward. Son also integrates side moves executed over full 8 counts.
🎶 How is it counted?
On the 3 2 clave on Son we can hear the clave 3 times on the first measure. On the 1st beat, the & between the 2nd and 3rd beat and the 4th beat. Then twice on the second measure, on the 6th and 7th beat.
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