I’ve had an enquiry from PD who enjoyed the article on Hearing the Clave, but isn’t a great music reader so he was asking whether I could give sound examples. Fair enough, I thought, I’ll get to it when I’ve got time… Then I thought, I wonder if someone’s already done an app for this? Well, someone has and ay dios mio have they done it well…

This fantastic little app defaults to the fundamental rhythm patterns I gave, plus maracas, guiro, bongos, bass and customisable spoken count. All the channels are mixable and mutable, and have drop-down menus with many more variations to investigate too. You could do worse than copping some of these patterns. Some of the piano montunos are generic, some are taken from specific tunes – there’s even one from my old pal Alex Wilson, who has Afro-Latin music in his bone marrow.

You can start with just clave and gradually dial in combinations of the other parts to get a feel for what they sound like individually and how they interlock. Then try the same exercise with the clave channel muted to start weaning yourself off having to hear the clave actually played. You might want to turn off the Auto Change feature under Master Key if you’re working on clave awareness, but it’s handy if you want to practise along around the cycle of fifths.

Oh, and you get similar loving care in the merengue department too. For some of my thoughts on this style (and an amazing dancing golden retriever) see Modern Merengue Piano Basics.

Genial, mis amigos.

PS You don’t have to subscribe or pay to use the online version of salsabeatmachine, but do consider donating a couple of quid or buying the mobile version if you find it useful. Which I reckon you will. If this thing had been around when I was starting out it would have spared me a great many blushes…

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Posted in f) Esquina Latina

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