The Afro-cuban salsa rhythm comprises three major elements: the beat of course, the clave and the cascara. As shown below, the cascara can be seen as a phrased triplet while the clave can be considered a phrased 5-tuplet. Both tuplets harmonise towards the binary rhythm divisions which are octaves of the beat. So salsa rhythm is a harmonised system of three frequencies with a root plus its third and fifth harmonics. We can look at these rhythmic elements as three notes of a chord with the respective functions of the tonica (root), the fifth (3rd harmonic) and the major third (5th harmonic). Hence: salsa is a major chord!







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