Women who dance bomba often use dresses or scarfs to enhance bodily movements. By a creolized form of the genre, called contradanza, was thriving in Cuba, and the genre also appears to have been extant, in similar vernacular forms, in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and elsewhere, although documentation is scanty. Plena melodies tend to have an unpretentious, "folksy" simplicity. This period represented the apogee of plena's popularity as a commercial popular music. Although it has largely died out in that country except the Canaries , it took root in various places in Latin America—especially Cuba and Puerto Rico—where it is sung in diverse styles.
Women who dance bomba often use dresses or scarfs to enhance bodily movements. As these three genres evolved in Puerto Rico and are unique to that island[ citation needed ], they occupy a respected[ neutrality is disputed ] place in island culture, even if they are not currently as popular as contemporary musics like salsa or reggaeton. Of clear African provenance is its format in which a single person emerges from an informal circle of singers to dance in front of the drummers, engaging the lead drummer in a sort of playful duel; after dancing for a while, that person is then replaced by another. In general, Christmas season is a time when traditional music—both seis and aguinaldo—is most likely to be heard. Then, the orchestra would strike up and the couples would dance freely around the ballroom to the rhythm of the music. Early music[ edit ] Music culture in Puerto Rico during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries is poorly documented. Although it has largely died out in that country except the Canaries , it took root in various places in Latin America—especially Cuba and Puerto Rico—where it is sung in diverse styles. Plenas are still commonly performed in various contexts; a group of friends attending a parade or festival may bring a few panderetas and burst into song, or new words will be fitted to the familiar tunes by protesting students or striking workers which has long been a regular form of protest from occupation and slavery. This prohibition, however, does not seem to have had much lasting effect, and the newly invigorated genre—now more commonly referred to as "danza"—went on to flourish in distinctly local forms. By Morel Campos' time, the Puerto Rican danza had evolved into a form quite distinct from that of its Cuban not to mention European counterparts. While enthusiasts might on occasion dance to a plena, plena is not characteristically oriented toward dance. The aguinaldo texts are generally not about Christmas, and also unlike Anglo-American Christmas carols, they are generally sung by a solo with the other revelers singing chorus. These are grouped into two broad categories, viz. In the s a newly envigorated plena emerged as performed by the smaller band of Rafael Cortijo and vocalist Ismael "Maelo" Rivera , attaining unprecedented popularity and modernizing the plena while recapturing its earthy vitality. Plena subsequently came to occupy its niche in island music culture. Plena melodies tend to have an unpretentious, "folksy" simplicity. While various such elements can be traced to origins in Africa or elsewhere, bomba must be regarded as a local Afro-Puerto Rican creation. About twenty such song-types are in common use. Famous singers include the Despacito singer Luis Fonsi. Nevertheless, the extraordinary massive turnout for Cortijo's funeral in reflected the beloved singer's enduring popularity. Particularly distinctive was its form consisting of an initial paseo, followed by two or three sections sometimes called "merengues" , which might feature an arpeggio-laden "obbligato" melody played on the tuba-like bombardino euphonium. This romantic introduction ended with a salute by the gentlemen and a curtsey from the ladies in reply. The African people of the island used drums made of carved hardwood covered with untreated rawhide on one side, commonly made from goatskin. By then, however, plena's popularity had been replaced by that of salsa, although some revivalist groups, such as Plena Libre , continue to perform in their own lively fashion, while "street" plena is also heard on various occasions. By a creolized form of the genre, called contradanza, was thriving in Cuba, and the genre also appears to have been extant, in similar vernacular forms, in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and elsewhere, although documentation is scanty. The plena rhythm is a simple duple pattern, although a lead pandereta player might add lively syncopations.
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