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Clave is a rhythmic pattern which originated in Cuba. Essentially all Afro-Cuban music is based around the clave rhythm. The most common type of clave is called "son clave", named by the Cuban musical style:

Another type is rumba clave.

The origins of the rhytnm are in polyrhythms of African music, which give more examples of clave rhythm.

There is also a percussion instrument called claves, consisting of a pair of short, thick wooden dowels. When struck they produce a bright clicking noise. Claves are sometimes hollow and carved in the middle to amplify the sound. Claves are often used to beat out clave rhythm, hence the name of the rhythm.

Steve Reich's Music for Pieces of Wood is written for five pairs of claves.

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