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African and Caribbean traditions have had an indelible influence on pop music, particularly when it comes to rhythm. Afro-Caribbean rhythms are noted for their light, “danceable” feel, due to their emphasis on syncopation and asymmetrical rhythmic patterns. To understand how these concepts actually manifest in music, consider the rhythmic pattern known as the clave.

Pronounced clah-vay, clave translates to “key” in Spanish. It’s been suggested that the name derives from a clave being the keystone that holds a house together in construction.