Help With Clave Rhythm

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I've been searching for clave related inspiration in North American Native tribes.

I've found what sounds like a tresillo clave in the Pomo Ladies dances: https://youtu.be/74fxUxDglvg

Though, with such a sparse instrumentation, I am having a difficult time figuring out how they are counting that. Any ideas?
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
First I would tend to think that they aren't counting ;-)
Then I hear this rhythm as being in between a triplet and what can be called "tresillo".
This rhythm is a basic element of many (most) musical cultures anyway.

I am having a difficult time figuring out how they are counting that. Any ideas?
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
First I would tend to think that they aren't counting ;-)
Then I hear this rhythm as being in between a triplet and what can be called "tresillo".
This rhythm is a basic element of many (most) musical cultures anyway.
It is unusual for most of North America(North of the Rio Grande) doesn't have syncopated percussion mostly they play straight or shuffled, I've seen some similar rhythms further north on the west coast, I'm guessing some common influence with the kuksu cults of the California Natives. I would give them credit for developing proto clave, having looked at a variety of Pomo and other California Natives dances.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gt2iaNapv4

It is interesting that there primary musical instrument are these wood/bamboo clappers.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
To me syncopation implies the presence of a steady pulse, and clave implies some kind of rhythmic elaboration. Neither of those are happening here, that I can detect. The rhythmic framework is extremely simple-- there's just the exact percussion rhythm, and the vocal part exactly in unison with it (less one note). Very literally monorhythmic.

I wouldn't draw too many historical conclusions just from recordings made this decade-- who knows the actual history of that music. Whatever musical traditions these cultures had were at least severely disrupted, or most likely actually wiped out some time in the last 200+ years, and then re-invented from whatever remnants of it were still in living memory, after who knows how long an interval.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
To me syncopation implies the presence of a steady pulse, and clave implies some kind of rhythmic elaboration. Neither of those are happening here, that I can detect. The rhythmic framework is extremely simple-- there's just the exact percussion rhythm, and the vocal part exactly in unison with it (less one note). Very literally monorhythmic.

I wouldn't draw too many historical conclusions just from recordings made this decade-- who knows the actual history of that music. Whatever musical traditions these cultures had were at least severely disrupted, or most likely actually wiped out some time in the last 200+ years, and then re-invented from whatever remnants of it were still in living memory, after who knows how long an interval.
Hmm, maybe you should question your assumptions a little. These people are clearly alive and well playing a tressilo based rhythm.

To me a syncopated rhythm is just a rhythm where the spaces between the notes aren't uniform, typically synchronized on the off beats y's or a's. Many syncopated rhythms emphasize the odd spacing. A good example is "Planet Caravan" by Black Sabbath, that has a noticeable syncopated accent.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Yes, but we don't know where they got it. Don't assume it's original to the music just because they're doing it now.

Uneven spacing is what makes something a rhythm rather than just a pulse-- it doesn't necessarily imply syncopation. Usually syncopation refers to rhythms that disguise the beat or meter of a piece. We could notate this music in 2/4, but there's never a beat or a 2/4 actually stated in the music for the rhythm to be syncopating against, and I'm pretty sure European time signatures were not part of the process at any stage of creating, learning, or performing this music. This piece is really unmetered-- it's just a static simple rhythm with vocals in unison, apparently without an underlying pulse.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Yes, but we don't know where they got it. Don't assume it's original to the music just because they're doing it now.

Uneven spacing is what makes something a rhythm rather than just a pulse-- it doesn't necessarily imply syncopation. Usually syncopation refers to rhythms that disguise the beat or meter of a piece. We could notate this music in 2/4, but there's never a beat or a 2/4 actually stated in the music for the rhythm to be syncopating against, and I'm pretty sure European time signatures were not part of the process at any stage of creating, learning, or performing this music. This piece is really unmetered-- it's just a static simple rhythm with vocals in unison, apparently without an underlying pulse.
There are older recordings, I've seen some from the seventies and earlier. I've heard some earlier recordings. Though in a not so flattering light.

You see one of the problems with Eurocentrism is that they kinda assume that everyone got their culture from somewhere else, because that's what Europeans did. The paper they used to write their historical side notes was Chinese for example. The Mayans must have gotten there civilization form little green men in outer space etc. However, one of the key differences for the Native Americans, is that except for canoes, they pretty much walked everywhere, no horses, no ships etc. I read somewhere that Pomo Indians may never travel more than eleven miles from where they were born. There were influences here and there, Paradise Valley was a prehistoric hopping place, and you can see overlaps for example with the Cahuil bird singers in Southern California. Plains and mountain people people migrated often because of the harsh environment etc.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
It seems more difficult. Maybe it would help if I point out that there are two clave parts, one plays the "rock" in Pomo terms and the other follows the song and provides song queues with the sort of fill, you can hear clear subdivisions there.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
You see one of the problems with Eurocentrism is that they kinda assume that everyone got their culture from somewhere else, because that's what Europeans did.
Eurocentrism is not a "they" so I don't know what you mean here. I'm just pointing out that there was an actual genocide followed by a massive cultural erasure, so it would be very surprising if something as perishable as music survived that intact. There's no insight to be gained by pretending it didn't happen, or that it had no cultural effect.

If you're really interested, you should actually just call and/or visit tribal centers directly. You can ask them all the questions you want, and there will be people there who can point you to the reliable scholarship on their music and musical history.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Eurocentrism is not a "they" so I don't know what you mean here. I'm just pointing out that there was an actual genocide followed by a massive cultural erasure, so it would be very surprising if something as perishable as music survived that intact. There's no insight to be gained by pretending it didn't happen, or that it had no cultural effect.

If you're really interested, you should actually just call and/or visit tribal centers directly. You can ask them all the questions you want, and there will be people there who can point you to the reliable scholarship on their music and musical history.
I already proved you were a proponent of culture erasure no need to continue to try to drag the thread down that route. No benefit can come from not acknowledging this fact.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I already proved you were a proponent of culture erasure no need to continue to try to drag the thread down that route. No benefit can come from not acknowledging this fact.
No route, it's a simple point about not drawing too many wild conclusions just from listening to a video and applying some very half-assed political theory, as you are doing. There are people who study this stuff for real-- mostly tribal members-- you have to actually look up their work and read it if you want to get into drawing big historical conclusions about this music.

I missed the part where I said anything in favor of cultural erasure, or where you proved I said something that really meant anything like that.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
No route, it's a simple point about not drawing too many wild conclusions just from listening to a video and applying some very half-assed political theory, as you are doing. There are people who study this stuff for real-- mostly tribal members-- you have to actually look up their work and read it if you want to get into drawing big historical conclusions about this music.

I missed the part where I said anything in favor of cultural erasure, or where you proved I said something that really meant anything like that.

I don't think your advice is very good in this regard. You are stuck in the "It was erased mindset". Clearly haven't spent much time researching the subject, and are want to politicize.
 
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