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How to Play Claves

Learn how to play claves from the musicians at Wula Drum in this Howcast video.


These wonderful instruments are known collectively as Claves, and what they are are two pieces of very resonant hardwood that is used to give timing and color and placement of the music. These are actually made from some kind of rosewood that come from Cuba.

How you play the Claves and how you hold the Claves is of the greatest importance. You have to make, like, what is called a resonant chamber to hold the receiving stick, the one that sits in your hand. If you can see from the other side the Claves sits here and there's a little room in my hand that helps to project the sound.

Here is the note with the chamber and here is note with no chamber.

Now, this set of Claves has an open hole on both ends. Wow! Both ends, which will give you a louder sound. So listen to it played in a proper fashion. Now, if I mute or close one of the holes and hold it towards my body, you notice it has less and less sound, but played in its proper form it is played out like this.

Okay, I want to show you another set of Claves that are about 60 or 70 years old that was given to me by an old friend. Same principle. You make a resonant chamber with your hand and you hold it where you don't hit your fingers. Make sure you don't hit your fingers, guys. So and as you see the instruments are a lot lighter in sound. I actually like these better. Yeah!

I know this instrument, it looks real easy and it is, but the placement of where you put it in music is very important.

And this is how you play the Claves.

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