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The Music of Puerto Rico

The folk music of Puerto Rico expresses many influences and traditions. Bomba, an early form, was created on plantations by enslaved Africans and their descendants in the 1680s. Plena music was introduced by workers near Ponce about 1898. Jíbaro, or peasant music, is Puerto Rico's country music. All three kinds of music are closely related. Performances of bomba, plena, and jibaro often include instruments from other kinds of music. This mixture of instruments and rhythms illustrates why Puerto Rico is considered a creolized society--one whose culture emerged from the mixing of different traditions.




"Seis Milonga"

"Seis Milonga" from the recording entitled Puerto Rico in Washington, Folkways SF 40460, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1989 Used by permission.

A process of adaptation occurred with traditional Spanish stringed instruments, which served as the basis for the development of the bordonúa (bass), tiple, and requinto. The cuatro, a variant of these string instruments, remains unique to Puerto Rico, and is most integrally associated with jíbaro music. It stands as a symbol of the Puerto Rican people and their music. The cuatro, together with the guitar and the guiro (scraped gourd of indigenous origin), came to form the typical jíbaro ensemble.


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