The Boricua Musical Corner
February 10, 2001
Play Write Song
Puerto Rican music has been heavily influenced by African rhythms. The Bomba developed directly from ritual slave dances. The Plena is a blend of different cultures but relies heavily on African tradition. Both elements developed in those coastal areas with a concentration of African descendants.
Afro traits in Puerto Rican music include: collective participation in which there is no distinct line between musicians and audience. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate. An emphasis on rhythm and percussion rich in melody. Widespread use of call and response.
La Plena Puertorriqueña developed in Ponce approximately 100 years ago. La Plena is also known as "el periodico catao" (the sung newspaper) because the songs are about currents issues. Plena musicians often poke fun at mundane everyday occurrences or the antics of politicians.
The Plena rhythm has strong African roots but it is also influenced by other music genres such as Taíno, jíbaro, danzas, and other European styles.
Plena instruments include a large tambourine like instrument called pandero. A pandero is a very short drum that looks like a tambourine without jingles, and bigger in diameter than a tambourine. The pandero was introduced in Spain by the Moors.
Request for Contributions
We need contributions of full midis (Plenas) to ad to this page, together with the written songs and, if possible, a short note on the origins and use (or meaning) of the piece contributed. These should have also the name of the person that did the sequence as well as permission to publish it on this site. Proper credit will be given to the person that prepared the midi as well as a link to their web site if so desired. Of particular importance are "classical" Puerto Rican pieces such as "Temporal", "Mamita Llego el Obispo", "La Bandera", "Mataron a Elena", pieces from the early period of the plena and pieces distinctively interpreted by Rafael Cortijo with Ismael Rivera.
please contact Obed Cintron by using the above
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This sequence reproduces the better known melodies of some of the most popular plenas of all times. "Mataron a Elena", "Temporal", "La Bandera", etc. are part of the established legacy of the "sung newspaper" named plena dating more than a hundred years.
Midi Courtesy of Rene Ramos