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Play Claves - Performance Technique with Dion Rivers

29th Oct 2014

Claves are a traditional Afro-Cuban percussive instrument that provides repeating time in many different kinds of cultural music.

Claves are played by striking the two pieces of wood together, in order to create a sharp cracking sound. Modern claves are amplified as a consequence of their hollowness. One clave strikes the other, causing the stick to create a resonance.

How to Play the Claves

The way the claves are played is just by striking them together. The resonation of the wood in each hand will create the sound.

Your technique can optimize the clave sound. Often we see participants at drum circles playing the instrument with a full grip on each clave. This is poor technique and will kill your sound.

The proper technique is to cup the clave with your hand to open up some space so the clave can breathe and you get some resonance. The striker should also be held with a relaxed grip allowing it to resonate as well.

Once you have the technique down, try some Clave at your next djembe drum circle or add it to your Afro-Cuban ensemble!