Andrei Strizek

Music | Musings

Gershwin & the Clave

A few weeks ago I wrote about the 3-2 Clave pattern and how it appears in a recent Justin Bieber hit, as well as many other musics. In my Gershwin class today I heard it again:

The beginning of Act III, Scene 3 of Porgy & Bess (the final scene).

It's a little different, using quarter-note triplets instead of the typical 3-note figure, but the effect is the same.

The excerpt has many examples of the 3-2 clave pattern, and the score below starts about the 55 second mark. It's interesting that Gershwin used this, not because he wasn't familiar with Latin or Spanish music (see: Cuban Overture), but that so much of the Porgy & Bess score is based on a well-crafted blend of blues, jazz, spiritual, modernist music (for the 1930s) and European opera - but to my knowledge this is the only Latin-influenced part in the opera.

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