How the Distinctly Syncopated Clave Rhythm Pattern of Afro-Cuban Music Took Hold in Modern Music

The fast talking doodling music theorist and musician 12tone visually and verbally explains the syncopation, the theory behind numerous variations of clave rhythmic patterns. These distinct rhythms are believed to have originated in Africa and have strong ties to Afro-Cuban music. These clave patterns eventually took real hold in modern music, most famously with the late great Bo Diddley, who incorporated the 3-2 clave rhythm in his iconic eponymous song.

It’s easy to forget how important rhythms can be, but they’re the foundation on top of which music is built, and it doesn’t get much more foundational than the Clave. Born in Africa, brought to the Americas by slaves, and eventually showing up in musical styles all over the world, the Clave is one of the defining rhythms of modern music across cultures.