Inspired by the world-renowned music skills of Cuban musicians, I am conducting exploratory research with the view to inform both research and practice on how Cuban clave-based music is transmitted in its original cultural milieu. The enquiry starts by outlining the main stylistic and sociohistorical elements of Cuban music, drawing out the distinctions between how Cuban music is defined in Cuba and the way it is portrait in the wider international context. Following this, the investigation moves on to analysing the rhythmic foundations of Cuban music - making special reference to the clave - and then examines them against the conception of groove so as to the discern the extent to which clave-based music constitutes a distinct rhythm construct.

On this backdrop and taking the concept of formal and informal learning as a frame of reference, this study investigates the main learning and teaching approaches evidenced in the transmission of clave-based music, aiming to identifying patterns of learning in connection to institutional avenues of learning as well as in community teaching environments. Finally, this project proceeds by narrowing down the focus of enquiry on the foundational features of Cuban clave-based music, viz. the clave, spotlighting the way it is experienced in Cuban musicians' life-world, and seeking to shed light on the underlying mechanism of playing in-clave.

This research propounds that Cuban music has the potential to foster music education globally. Importantly, the process of music enculturation in Cuba often entails a cross fertilisation of local music folklore with national popular music, international popular music, and Western art music. Because of this, Cuba offers a cultural variant that may inspire a model for a more universal approach to music education. Yet, as of today, and despite the global reach and wide influence exerted by Cuban music on Western popular music, Cuban music has been kept apart from being represented in educational settings across the West (unlike other major African-diasporic traditions now institutionally anchored, most notably jazz for example) or omitted from the historicization of popular music due to aspects including geopolitical reasons. As a result, the vast stylistic varieties, galvanizing rhythms, and the participatory dimension ingrained in the indissoluble link to dancing, have precluded Cuban music from strengthening the rhythmic knowledge, and more broadly, from enriching the lives of music students in the West.


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