Monday, March 12, 2018

The Clave: A Contrast

Fourth in a series on style:

As mentioned earlier, language has an effect on music and thus poetry. In the previous post, we listened to the shuffle, the expression of syncopation in English popularized by Afro-American musicians.

Below is a video on the clave, the Afro-Cuban expression of syncopation in Spanish. It is a five-beat rhythm that does not match the two-syllable heartbeat of the English iamb. Instead, the pattern lends itself to the more lyrical Romance languages. This disparity between an odd-numbered rhythm and English's even-numbered heartbeat also explains why English language haiku is lacking when it attempts to follow the 5-7-5 syllable pattern of the Japanese form.

The lesson here for the stylist is to match the rhythm to the native pulse of the language.

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