Some of these unique sounds come from instruments that originated with
the Taíno peoples. Most noteworthy is the güícharo
a notched, hollowed-out gourd, which was adapted from the pre-Columbian days.
The musical traditions of the Spanish and Africans can also be apreciated
in Puerto Rican music.The cuatro, adapted from the six
string classic Spanish guitar has ten strings arranged in five different pairs; usually carved from solid blocks of laurel wood and known
for resonances and pitches different from those of the guitar, this instrument's graceful baroque body has been revered for decades as
the national instrument of Puerto Rico.
Also prevalent on the island are such percussion instruments as tambours
and maracas. All these instruments contribute to the rich
variety of folk music with roots in the cultural melting pot of the island's Taíno, Spanish and African traditions.
Today the most widely applauded -and to many most enjoyable-of the island's
folk music are the hillbilly pieces created by the
mountain-dwelling jíbaros. Despite the appeal of other island musical forms, such a salsa, the jíbaro tradition of cuatro with
drums is the island's most notable--and the one most often to evoke homesickness in the hearts of any expatriate Puerto Rican.
Although usually grouped together, bomba y plena are actually
two entirely different types of music that are coupled with dance.
Whereas bomba is pure African in origin, plena blends elements from Puerto Rican's wide cultural backgrounds, including music
that the Taino tribes may have used during their ceremonies. This type of music first appeared in Ponce, where performing the
plena became a hallmark of Spanish traditions and coquetry.Instruments used in plena include the güiro, a dried-out gourd whose
surface is cut with parrallel grooves and when rubbed with a stick produces a raspy and rhythmical percussive noise. To the güiro
and cuatro is added the tambourines, known as panderos, originally derived from Africa. Dancing plena becomes a kind of living
newspaper-singers recite the events often satirizing local politicians and scandals.Sometimes plenas are full of biting satire or may
comment on events such as a devastating hurricane.
Seis means six and is the name of another popular style of folk
dance, originally danced by six couples, a descendent of the country
dances so popular in Spain several hundred years ago.
Décima, from the word ten is a poem-usually a parody on
contemporary events. These jíbaro satires, put to music,,
another facet of Puerto Rican folk art.
The mayor type of music coming out of Puerto Rico, however is salsa,
rhythm of the islands..Its name literally translates as the
"sauce" that makes parties happen. Originally developed in the Puerto Rican community of New York, it draws heavily from the
musical roots of the Cuban and Afro-Caribbean experience. Highly danceable, its rhythms are hot, urban, rhythmically sophisticated..
compelling.Today, the center of salsa has shifted back to Puerto Rico.Salsa bands require access to a large array of percussion
instruments, including güiros, maracas, bongós, timbales, conga drums, and claves. It also takes a bass, horn section, a chorus
and a lead vocalist to get the combination right.
a typical cuatro instrument