Puerto Ricans and Music Essay

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Puerto Ricans and Music

Puerto Ricans have music in their spirit and in their souls. It seems to be ever present in their lives from their childhood and sweetens their very existence. Since I was young, I can remember the music playing all night, while my family ignored the time and enjoyed each other's company. Music is a part of every Puerto Rican because it is embedded in our culture. It has become a cultural symbol for Puerto Ricans, and Latin Americans in general. In polls conducted concerning major signifiers of Puerto Rican identity, the three major political parties of Puerto Rico consistently ranked music behind only the Spanish language and food [1]. Although music is ranked as one of the most important parts of being Puerto
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In tracing the roots of Puerto Rican music, you come across two forms of music that have come to signify Puerto Rican culture. Although usually grouped together, bomba y plena are actually two entirely different types of music that are coupled with dance. Bomba, which is pure African, was brought over by black slaves who worked on the island's sugar plantations. It is a rhythmic music using barrel-shaped drums covered with tightly stretched animal skins and played by hand. This form of music is produced by one large drum plus a smaller drum called a subidor. The drums are accompanied by the rhythmical beating of sticks and maracas to create a swelling tide of drumbeats, in which admirers of the music can hear drummers bang out a series of responses to one another. Bomba is described as a dialogue between dancer and drummer. It is as if the drummer were challenging the dancer to a rhythmic duel. The dance can go on just a long as the dancer can continue.

Whereas bomba is purely African origin, plena blends elements from Puerto Ricans' wide cultural backgrounds, including music that the Taíno tribes may have used during their ceremonies. This type of music first appeared in Ponce, when performing the plena became a hallmark of Spanish tradition.

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