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Title : Sounds of Puerto Rico 2014: "Plere" by Son Del Batey [Bomba music]
Description : Bomba is one of the traditional musical styles of Puerto Rico. It is the mixture of the 3 different cultures of the Island: the Spanish, African and Taino cultures. The base rhythm is played by 2 or more drums or “Barriles”(the translation is Barrels because they are made from Barrels of Rum) called “Buleadores”, one “Barril” called “Primo” or “Subidor”, cuá (two sticks that were originally banged on the side of the Barril and a maraca. Dance is an integral part of the music: The drum called “Primo” replicates every single move of the dancer, this is called “Repique”. Although the origins are a little scarce it’s easy to spot the elegance and poise of the Spanish Flamenco and the energy and soul of African dances.

While bomba can be used as the generic name for a number of rhythms, its real meaning is about the encounter and creative relationship between dancers, percussionists, and singers. Bomba is a community affair that still thrives in its traditional centers of Loíza, Santurce, Mayagüez, Ponce, and New York City.

Bomba is described to be a challenge/connection between the drummer and the dancer. The dancer produces a series of gestures to which the primo o subidor drummer provides a synchronized beat. Thus, it is the drummer who attempts to follow the dancer and not the other way around. The dancer must be in great physical shape and the challenge usually continues until either the dancer discontinues.

Bomba also is composed by 3 or more singers and a solo singer, the singing has a dynamic similar to those of “Son” were the lead singer sings a chorus and the other respond, and in between choruses the lead singer will improvise a verse. The theme of most Bomba songs is every day life and activity, Like the case of a certain song called “Palo e Bandera” that talks about a love triangle between a female dancer, a female singer and the singer’s husband the “Primo” player. The Wife realizes her husband is cheating on her with the dancer and decides to teach her a lesson on the dancefloor (Also called Batey, which means front yard).

This particular style of music was originated in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico by the slaves working of the sugar cane fields, these slaves came from different regions of Africa so that they could not communicate with each other, but they found a common ground in music. As opposed to the Blues in the United States, Bomba was not a form to express the sadness or the troubles of their life but a way to escape from those problems. With the migration of these slaves to different regions of the island Bomba was practiced in different regions of the island each giving their personal twist to Bomba music, for example in the region of Ponce they play with larger drums than other regions that are played by placing the drum completely horizontal. After a few years songwriter Rafael Cortijo introduced Bomba to the Concert Halls by arranging it with brass instruments and more simple rhythm patterns, today Bomba can be found anywhere on the island and in fusion with different styles like Jazz or Salsa music. [from Wikipedia]

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