Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

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Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby xsanch » Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:02 pm

Hello,

is it right that the clave and salidor + tres dos is reversed in this recording of Alberto Zayas in Consuelate Como Yo. It's the first time I heard it this way.
Below is the grooveshar link with the audio.


http://grooveshark.com/#!/search/song?q ... te+Como+Yo

Thanks,


Jorge
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby jorge » Tue Sep 09, 2014 4:12 am

Not to accept the title of "expert" but I am old enough to admit that a lot of us used to play that way. As you have found, a few of the earliest Afrocuban rumba recordings from Cuba did have the clave and tres dos playing simultaneously on the 3 side (first bar) of the clave. Sometimes they switched to the modern style in the middle of the song, sometimes not. A few real old skoolers like Candido Camero still play that way. The vast majority of Cuban rumberos have always played, and continue to play, guaguanco with the tres dos open tones on the 2 side of the rumba clave (the second bar if the first hit of clave starts on the downbeat). Playing the other way is considered "cruzao" or "montao" and will get you yelled at, signaled to, "educated" or just kicked off the tres dos in a Cuban rumba. The reason is that the "swing" of the guaguanco relies on the clave and guagua playing opposite the tres dos, not in unison with it. In the 2 or 3 years after the large influx of Afrocuban rumberos to the US in 1980, we had virtual wars in the rumbas in Central Park and NYC as those of us who had been playing "crossed clave" learned the other way, or fought the change (and lost the battle), or just mindlessly kept on the old style. I actually think the modern way, when played well, is much funkier, more fun to play and overall better sounding.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby xsanch » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:12 pm

Thanks for the reply, it's nice to see the story behind. I was just surprised that the old recording have the tres dos playing on the 1st leg of the clave.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby jorge » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:29 pm

I had an opportunity to ask one of the great master rumberos from Matanzas about this and he said the people playing clave on those few recordings just didn't know and played it wrong, there is only one correct way to play clave in rumba.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby guarachon63 » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:46 pm

...he said the people playing clave on those few recordings just didn't know and played it wrong,


Goyo used to tell me the same thing, "they didn't know what they were doing back then", but to me it was always an unsatisfactory answer - it's not just a "few" recordings we are talking about, it's more like dozens, some of them by groups under the direction of Alberto Zayas, Ignacio Piñeiro, and Odilio Urfé - and there is no consistency even within those recordings by the same group. The change to (and codification of) playing the open tones on the 2 side coincides with the advent of very popular recordings by Los Papines and Guaguancó Matancero in the late '50s and early '60s.

My personal belief is that, prior to those recordings, people just didn't care that much about how it was played. Only after those newer recordings reached a wider audience, and especially after the formation of the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional, which established a "correct" way to play many types of folkloric musics, did the open tones on the 2-side become standard.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby JohnnyConga » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:28 pm

It's what they knew back then..also there weren't any "Clave Police" like we have today ..Like Jorge stated we often played Guaguanco that way in the 60's..and the concept of Clave was all new to us all...Rumba Clave came out of Matanzas, not Havana...and once again just because you may be a Cuban does not mean you know all about the Clave..as I have met many Cubans in Miami that don't know jack about it...and don't care either...
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby jorge » Fri Oct 17, 2014 3:35 pm

JohnnyConga wrote:...Rumba Clave came out of Matanzas, not Havana...

Interesting, I had not heard that before. What is your source for that information?
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby ABAKUA » Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:21 pm

Clave de Rumba was born from the Abakua, who have their origins in Sth East Nigeria. Earliest records of Cuban Abakua societies date back to 1836, predominantly in the suburb of Regla, Havana. And later, spreading to the cities of Matanzas, Cardenas etc
The origins of Rumba clave are found in Abakua, from Africa, then to Havana, where it spread to the other cities and influenced all other forms.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby jorge » Sat Oct 18, 2014 2:10 pm

Yeah, that is how I understand the history too. Although there is some agreement that it started in Regla in 1836, I think Abakua developed and grew pretty much simultaneously in La Habana and Matanzas, and it has stayed pretty much limited to those 2 major centers and their surrounding communities. Interesting that the high drum part in Matanzas abakua is a 1 bar pattern, playing the downbeat of every measure, on both sides of the clave. Maybe that is why the early rumba did not show a clear preference for the 2 side. We need to ask a very senior (mid 70s or older) Abakua rumbero who was playing rumba in the early 50s when the changes were happening.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby vxla » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:59 pm

I can second the "if they were playing the open tones on the 3-side it was just wrong" with evidence from Jose Eladio. In June, I asked him if there was any truth that, at some point, things switched to the open tones on the 2-side. In his opinion, it was wrong if ever played that way (at least in guaguancó).
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby jorge » Mon Oct 20, 2014 1:19 am

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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby JohnnyConga » Mon Oct 20, 2014 3:29 pm

The Clave comes out of/from the 'short' 6/8 bell part...translated into Clave in Matanzas....remember there were many African nations thrown together in Cuba...so it was this amalgamation that Rumba and Clave were created... they weren't playing Clave in Africa... if they were please put up a video or music of it ...Im always willing to learn something new...BTW I highly recommend Ned Sublette's book for everyone here to learn the true history of Cuba. "Cuba and it's Music/from the First Drums to the Mambo" (600 pages long) 20 bucks and it's worth it ...you will learn amazing things about Cuba and it's creation...as I have...and this is book one..Im waiting for book 2... Ned is a scholar, has been to Cuba and even recorded with Los Munequitos de Matanzas....

Partial history of How Claves came about:
On the slave ships and most ships in general back in those times had 'wooden pegs', that held the ships together, called "Clavijas"...made of hard dense wood that wouldn't rot when wet. It was in the 'shipyards of Matanzas' where the Clavijas were used when it came time to Rumba..on there lunch time..There is a Macho clave (long) and the Hembra clave (short)...as written in Neds book..he writes...The rhythm that the claves play is not an expressive part. It's a kind of 'asymmetrical metronome', purely structural, whose only function is to provide an 'organized spine' for the rhythm...
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby vxla » Mon Oct 20, 2014 5:19 pm

I'm not really getting his reply with the videos. Jorge please explain more as to what your point is.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby ABAKUA » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:33 pm

Its ok, I'll just agree to disagree JC.
Im not going to debate the point with the likes of Yoruba Andabo, Muñequitos de Matanzas, Los Papines, Rumberos De Cuba, Calderon family, all of which went into detail with me regarding origins of Rumba clave being from the Abakua, origins of which are in Havana first, then moving out to the other cities etc. The origins of the Abakua in Cuba are the Abakpa from Sth East Nigeria, where what has come to be known as 'rumba clave' is played on bell still to this very day within the groups which have preserved within the African origins of the Abakua like societies. Unlike the Palo Congo which also has early influences involving Clave, Palo Congo traditions have been lost in tradition in Africa but preserved in Cuba, while also afterwards spreading to other countries.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby Derbeno » Tue Oct 21, 2014 4:58 am

Wow....Pretty sweeping claims JC

Clave in all it's form came to the Caribbean basin diaspora from Africa. It is not just a Cuban thing either btw. On my Island Curacao where I grew up the local music is all with Clave. On these smaller islands you hear music from all over the region and it's 100% clave based.

And that goes throughout all the Islands and coastal South America. It can be played or implied but that is the structure of the music.

Here is a group from Ghana in perfect clave

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGZ9rDoMEs4

Here is a group where it is not explicitly played, but when the guy on the African cajon takes a solo he lets you know exactly where the clave is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNZDDFbZQEg

And here is a documentary charting the journey of the clave from Africa to the diaspora....again not just to Cuba

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/docum ... otes.shtml
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