Salsa > Dispute about clave in cha-cha-chá

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Ron Obvious, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    Some days ago I went in to a bet with another guy about what clave the cha-cha-chá is based upon. Is it based upon the son clave or an even 'unsyncopated' clave?

    I tried to google, but there seems to be much confusion about the dance in the first place. Some websites cite the mambo as the root for cha-cha-chá, others the danzón. Does somebody really know more about this interesting dance? I know how to dance to it.
  2. Porfirio Landeros

    Porfirio Landeros New Member

    This info is coming to you from a Ballroom perspective, but I've heard that cha-cha did in fact come from mambo. They have the same forward and back rock, were originally danced "on 2", and the synchopated steps in old mambo eventually broke out into becoming the cha-cha basic: 1, 2, 3, 4-and-1...

    I don't have answers to help you with the clave, but hopefully the piece of history is useful.
  3. Benjamim Nande

    Benjamim Nande New Member

    From what I've ever red and was told, cha cha has it's origin in mambo.

    As in most cases, there may be diferent versions about the origin of a specific rythm, but I believe this to be the most widely accepted explanation:

    When mambo became popular, it was quite hard to dance to, so most orchestras at the time tried to simplify the rythm, bringing it to a slower and easier rate... thus giving birth to cha cha.

    And, as Porfirio Landeros said, "the synchopated steps in old mambo eventually broke out into becoming the cha-cha basic".
    So, you make the "cha cha cha" on the following beats:
    8(cha) and(cha) 1(cha) 2(step) 3(step) 4(cha) and(cha) 5(cha) 6(step) 7(step)

    Hope this helps...

  4. Brendan

    Brendan New Member

    All the cha-chas I've heard seem to be based around the usual son clave. There's a slightly different 'clave' played on the timbales in danzon but it contains all the notes of the son clave and a couple of extra ones. I'll try and draw them out:

    Time......: 1e+a|2e+a|3e+a|4e+a|
    Son (3/2).: X..X|..X.|..X.|X...|
    Danzon ...: X.XX|.XX.|X.X.|X.X.|

    I've only done a bit of timbales and so if anyone has come across a different patttern for danzon then feel free to correct me. The second half of the pattern is very square though which is where the 'unsyncopated' but comes in. It is just son clave though with a few extra notes.

  5. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    This sounds very interesting. I tried to play the danzon-clave you drew out, it sound like some kind of campana-pattern to me.

    By the way, wikipedia states that cha-cha-cha stems from mambo, but also that mambo is a section of danzón. Then again, should you trust wikipedia?

  6. borikensalsero

    borikensalsero Moderator

    Wikipedia has it correct.
  7. clemente

    clemente New Member

    Just to confirm, the cha-cha-chá rhythm is indeed anchored around the son clave, and not some other unsyncopated clave, so that's who wins the bet. If it doesn't obey the son clave, it ain't real cha-cha-chá. ;) It does often have a sort of square-ish cowbell pattern that might make the whole rhythm seem a little less synchopated.

    The danzón pattern (consisting of a cinquillo followed by four even taps) is right as given by Brendan, but it is not the clave around which cha-cha-chá is based.

    Though the mambo rhythm first appears in a danzón, the genre we know as Mambo falls very clearly into the son rhythm family along with the guarachas, son montunos and the charangas we generally lump into the category of Salsa. Though the cha-cha-chá evolves directly out of the mambo, if you listen to the early Cuban cha-cha-chá orchestras like Aragón, you can hear the danzón influence very clearly.
  8. africana

    africana New Member

    yes there's no "dispute" about the danzon derivation for chachacha

    pp98, The Rough Guide to Cuban Music by Philip Sweeny
  9. SurfSalsa

    SurfSalsa New Member

    In agreement with the posts above, in the book "Cuban Fire" (by Isabella Leymarie), it shows a chart of the major Latin rhythms and their origins. Cha cha cha is shown as a direct derivative from Mambo in the 1940-1950s (which is coincidently in turn derived from Danzon), with the person responsible shown as Enrique Jorrin (as Africana stated above).

    p22: The danzon, which surfaced at the end of the 19th century, is the matrix from which the mambo and the cha cha cha evolved.
  10. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    So much agreement in a title with "dispute" in it. me likes it. :) I'm in agreement too about the derivation of the cha-cha-cha clave.
  11. Ron Obvious

    Ron Obvious New Member

    Ok, thanks.

    Too bad the bet was just a beer; however, in Finland that's worth like € 5.50 (in a bar).


Share This Page