Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby jorge » Sun Oct 26, 2014 5:33 am

I think Abakua got the oral history of rumba clave right. To summarize, rumba and rumba clave were invented in Cuba and rumba clave was derived from the Abakua bell part, which came from Africa and was first popularized in Havana then Matanzas after the founding of Abakua in Havana in 1836. David is right that there is no written proof or audio recorded proof, but this seems the most logical explanation and the most consistent with what most of the older Cuban rumberos I have spoken with say.
David, maybe you can ask Sandy next time you see him. There are obviously no recordings from then but in the mid and late 1800s Abakua music existed in Cuba and rumba did not, so the Abakua bell part is clearly older than rumba clave. I have heard clave played that sounded like son clave in Africa and African music, and the Abakua bell part also came from African music, but I have not heard the 4/4 rumba clave (as we play it in guaguanco) played in African music (as distinguished from Afrocuban music).

Regarding the placement of the tres dos with respect to the clave, we see that Matanzas Abakua has a second part with an open tone every measure, ie on the downbeat of both the 3 and the 2 side of the rumba clave. It makes sense what Barry suggests that this evolved over years into a preference for the 2 side, ie the modern style of playing tres dos in the guaguanco. So, moving forward there are two questions.

1) Has anyone heard African folkloric music based on 4/4 rumba clave? I mean music actually structured around the 4/4 rumba clave, not just with the clave part playing along without being the foundation of the drum and vocal rhythms. I am not talking about African popular music, which has much Cuban influence, nor am I talking about the 12/8 rumba clave David posted, which is different and is actually the Abakua bell part. David, I don't have your book handy but do you have examples of African folkoric music based on 4/4 rumba clave? Anyone?

2) Does anyone have a better theory as to how the tres dos has come to be played on the 2 side of the clave in guaguanco? I think it sounds better and offers more possibilities for rhythmic melodies than playing it on the 3 side.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby davidpenalosa » Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:50 am

jorge wrote:I have not heard the 4/4 rumba clave (as we play it in guaguanco) played in African music (as distinguished from Afrocuban music). Has anyone heard African folkloric music based on 4/4 rumba clave? David, I don't have your book handy but do you have examples of African folkoric music based on 4/4 rumba clave? Anyone?


I have some evidence, but no recordings yet. C.K. Ladzekpo identifies what we call the 4/4 rumba clave, as an "ancient African bell pattern." C.K taught at the University of Ghana, and then travelled all throughout sub-Saharan Africa, teaching traditional Ewe music, and learning the local drumming traditions. He is a great resource for these kinds of questions.

In his West African Rhythms for Drumset (1995: 63), Royal Hartigan states that "4/4 rumba clave" is a bell pattern used for processional music by both the Yoruba and Ibo of Nigeria.

There are more numerous examples available to us of the abakuá ekón pattern in African music. I have a recording of the pattern being used in Mali (Matthäus Winnitzki field recording, 2008). Egblewogbe (1967) documents its use by the Ewe of Ghana (West Africa), and Stone (2005) cites its use by the Swahili of Tanzania (East Africa). Jones (1959) identifies the pattern as the five essential accents within the seven-stroke standard pattern as played by the Bemba of Zambia (Central Africa).

As the map below shows, these various known locations in Africa where the "abakuá bell" is used (black dots), are a considerable distance from the Cross River region of Nigeria/Cameroon, the ancestral home of the Abakuá (red dot).

africa.jpg
Locations of examples of "12/8 rumba clave" (black dots).


I used to think that there were bell patterns particular to Cuba, but as time goes by, I keep finding more and more examples of "Cuban bell parts" in Africa. I recently came across this common mambo bell part:

X . X . X . X . X . X X . X . X

in Guinea drumming. Africa is so vast, and so much of its music remains undocumented.

Abakua wrote:The origins of Rumba clave are found in Abakua, from Africa, then to Havana . . . from my extended time living in Cuba on multiple trips, the discussions with Yoruba Andabo, Muñequitos de Matanzas, Los Papines, Rumberos De Cuba, Calderon family laid out the exact same lineage regarding the clave origins from Abakua & Havana. When you have Muñequitos & Los Papines both telling you the same thing, its kinda hard to refute, especially when backed by the other elders from the other groups.


Yes, that's a very strong case. I understand that Abakuá was founded in Regla, and rumba clave came from the ekón part. Were they making the specific case though, that rumba clave in rumba, was first used in Havana?
-David
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby vxla » Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:16 pm

Thanks for all the comments. Another question: could there be any modern influence on Africa from the west? Certainly if you're getting field recordings of bell patterns all throughout the continent, shouldn't you also consider that it may have arrived back from Cuba?
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby davidpenalosa » Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:22 pm

vxla wrote:Certainly if you're getting field recordings of bell patterns all throughout the continent, shouldn't you also consider that it may have arrived back from Cuba?


Yes, it certainly is a factor in some recordings of popular music. For example, early ju ju music used Cuban maracas, congas, bongos, and timbales, along with traditional Yoruba dun duns. Therefore, when I hear the cascara pattern played on a cowbell in King Sunny Ade's music, I don't consider that to be evidence of "cascara" in traditional Yoruba music. It merely raises questions.

But the use of the patterns we call clave are another matter. The old assertion that the clave pattern was "born in Cuba," simply cannot be supported today, with the amount of information available on traditional African musics. For example, the use of "clave" patterns in traditional Yoruba religious drumming (Nigeria and Benin) should not be considered evidence of a Cuban influence. Yoruba informants consistently acknowledge these key patterns as essential to their traditions. Use of the "clave" pattern in Africa was first documented in 1920, in the folk music of the Shona-Ndua people of present day Mozambique. The Ghanaian musicologist E.Y. Egblewogbe (1967) has noted that the most common rhythm used by Ewe children of Southeastern Ghana is 12/8 "son clave" (see the charts of clave patterns in my previous post).

Considering the relative lack of discourse between the two disciplines, it’s notable that the early ethnomusicology literature on African rhythm and the early writings about Cuban music both identify what we call “son clave” as the most important archetype of key patterns.[19] It’s probably no coincidence that independently of each other, these two fields arrived at the same conclusion. Ethnomusicologist [Anthony] King says the five-stroke figure is the “standard pattern in its simplest and most basic form”—The Clave Matrix (2012: 221).
19. African music: Jones (1954) and King (1960). Cuban music: Grenet (1939) and Morales (1954).


4/4 "Son clave" in traditional Ga music in Ghana:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJqzGd4o5pQ&index=28&list=UUcjcFA3-2aSoe5m-uP1HJtw

4/4 "Son clave" in Candomble music in Brazil:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nytYa-fEFhI&list=UUcjcFA3-2aSoe5m-uP1HJtw&index=25

4/4 "Son clave" in a field recording of makuta in Cuba:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6pas5uGHIA&list=UUcjcFA3-2aSoe5m-uP1HJtw&index=24
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby davidpenalosa » Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:54 pm

jorge wrote:Does anyone have a better theory as to how the tres dos has come to be played on the 2 side of the clave in guaguanco?


Jorge, have you heard the old story from Matanzas, how a drunk drummer placed the tres dos on the two-side by mistake, and the other drummers liked it and adopted it thereafter?

The placement of the modern tres dos is not a unique rhythmic motif.

salidor segundo comparisons.jpg
A common rhythmic motif evident in four Afro-Cuban rhythms.
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby jorge » Mon Oct 27, 2014 3:33 am

davidpenalosa wrote:
jorge wrote:Does anyone have a better theory as to how the tres dos has come to be played on the 2 side of the clave in guaguanco?


Jorge, have you heard the old story from Matanzas, how a drunk drummer placed the tres dos on the two-side by mistake, and the other drummers liked it and adopted it thereafter?

The placement of the modern tres dos is not a unique rhythmic motif.

salidor segundo comparisons.jpg

Thanks David. Yes, I am familiar with the conga de comparsa part that includes an open tone on the 2 side of clave, often this is played opposite a tres dos part similar to Havana guaguanco, but it usually includes other notes not just that one, and with the bombos, salidor and tres dos going, sets up a very different melody line than the guaguanco tumbador/tres dos.

No I hadn't heard that story, I was told by senior drummers in Afrocuba de Matanzas that the tres dos part of the guaguanco Matancero (the part they call golpe or seis por ocho) was incorporated into the guaguanco Matancero by Pablo Mesa (ibae), brother of Enrique Mesa (ibae) formerly of Afrocuba de Matanzas. Actually, I have not seen really good Cuban drummers play rhythms wrong or off time simply because they were drunk. Have you?
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Re: Rumba experts - why the clave is reversed here

Postby davidpenalosa » Mon Oct 27, 2014 5:45 am

jorge wrote: I have not seen really good Cuban drummers play rhythms wrong or off time simply because they were drunk. Have you?


Ha! No I haven't come to think of it! Never. Good point.

Thanks for the info on Pablo Mesa. Fascinating discussion.
-David
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