Puerto Rican music embraces in the island’s many historical and cultural contradictions as an opportunity to fuse melodic and rhythmic influences into distinctly Puerto Rican forms. During the Spanish colonial era of the 18th and 19th centuries, Puerto Rican music found much of its inspiration in Spanish folk, resulting in ‘Puerto Rican country music” known as jíbaro, and a form of social dance music, based on the minuet, called danza. At the same time, other Puerto Rican communities with stronger ties to Africa were developing bomba, which is an energizing drumming and dancing call and response, and plena, which featured vocalists who sang satirical songs about current events of the day. Another form of music, guaracha, also developed in the 19th century when traveling Cuban performers brought it as a way to provide clever entertainment between theater acts. Puerto Rican musicians merged Cuban guaracha with dance rhythms and made it their own.
Salsa–Puerto Rico’s most famous musical export–developed as much in Puerto Rico from Afro-Cuban son and mambo influences as it did in the dance clubs New York’s Puerto Rican neighborhoods.
Today Puerto Rico is also known for its homegrown merengue singers as well as for reggaeton, which blends Jamaican reggae and dancehall with bomba, plena, salsa, merengue, latin pop, cumbia, Dominican bachata, electronica, hip hop, rap…. There’s a lot of stuff in there. And it makes you dance.
A YouTube tour of Puerto Rico’s musical styles:
— JIBARO (played on a Puerto Rican guitar known as a cuatro),
In class we do a bit of salsa dancing. (Before class we learn how to salsa dance from a guy in pink pants.)
Visit AATW’s Caribbean Musical Genres page, or explore these Cuban musical genres:
Visit AATW’s Caribbean Musical Instruments page or explore these instruments from Puerto Rico:
Explore these All Around This World songs from Puerto Rico:
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