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claves Line breaks: claves
Pronunciation: /kleɪvz/

Definition of claves in English:

plural noun

1A pair of hardwood sticks used to make a hollow sound when struck together.
Example sentences
  • The mic was also nice on wooden percussion - claves, castanets, etc. - and hand claps and finger snaps.
  • These three main patterns are amplified by turtle shells, claves, timbales, bongos, congas, maracas and tambourines.
  • Musicians will demonstrate bomba and plena, and give a group lesson on the claves - wooden sticks that are the backbone of Latin rhythms.
1.1 (clave) [mass noun] A syncopated rhythm typical of some Latin American music.
Example sentences
  • The clave is the timekeeper of Latin music and dance, rooted in African syncopation.
  • It opens with Henry Mancini's ‘Theme From Hatari,’ which Byron has remade in clave.
  • Considered the key, the identity and the soul of the music, the clave is the main organizing principle to which every element of arrangement and improvisation in the music is connected.


1920s: from Latin American Spanish, from Spanish clave 'keystone', from Latin clavis 'key'.

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