Several styles of Latin music, such as son, rumba, and bossa nova, have particular rhythm or "clave" patterns associated with them. Is there a style that uses this rhythm?

enter image description here


enter image description here

Most of the patterns I've seen have five notes per cycle, not six. So if there's one that's like this but without the first hit, that could be considered a match too. It seems this would match the bossa nova clave if you start in the middle instead of the beginning, but I don't know if that's...allowed.

Note: It doesn't necessary have to be Latin. It's just that the examples I've found have been Latin styles.

  • 1
    That rhythm is straight from the beginning of Sing Sing Sing: youtube.com/watch?v=fhyhP_5VfKM It's derived from the 2-3 son clave.
    – LSM07
    Commented Apr 27, 2018 at 3:32
  • I asked this question while in the process of adapting this song youtube.com/watch?v=FHdEjH_7YY8 for big band (turn up the bass to easily hear that rhythm). I thought if it matched an established rhythmic style, I would base the arrangement on that genre. In the end, I did a pretty straightforward adaptation of the original rhythms. Generally speaking, what style of music best describes that track, anyway? The band director thought my arrangement sounded like disco. Commented May 1, 2018 at 3:04
  • 1
    Yeah, with the tempo marking I would probably write "Disco" with it.
    – LSM07
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


Note: It doesn't necessary have to be Latin.

Good, because I can't speak to that at all :-) But there is something interesting about this rhythm that may be helpful.

If I re-notate the rhythm and remove the rests, we're left with:

enter image description here


enter image description here

What's interesting is that these rhythms are actually symmetrical around their midpoints. In other words, they are rhythmic palindromes and sound exactly the same played both forwards and backwards.

The first and last rhythm of the first example is an eighth note; moving towards the center, the next rhythm is equivalent to three sixteenth notes; the final rhythms in the middle are also worth three sixteenth notes. The same holds true for the second example, it's just that the rhythm durations are doubled.

Olivier Messiaen, a famous twentieth-century composer, called these non-retrogradable rhythms because, if you played them in retrograde (=backwards), you'd be left with the very same rhythm. (And hence there's no use retrograding them in the first place, thus they are "non-retrogradable.")

I wish I could help with your Latin and clave question, but I can't; hopefully you'll still find this interesting, and maybe it will spark something that will eventually help you find your answer!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.