Welcome to the Bomba y Plena Class with Tony and Julie
Learn about the instructor here.
Here is wonderful article that explains what Bomb y Plena from Smithsonian Folkways
Bomba and plena are percussion-driven musical traditions from Puerto Rico that move people to dance. Often mentioned together as though they were a single musical style, both reflect the African heritage of Puerto Rico, but there are basic distinctions between them in rhythm, instrumentation, and lyrics. You can hear the difference in these songs. In “Baila, Julia Loíza” the drums or barriles are lower pitched and form a different rhythmic accompaniment than the pandereta drums in the plena example, “Báilala hasta las dos.”
Bomba dates back to the early European colonial period in Puerto Rico. It comes out of the musical traditions brought by enslaved Africans in the 17th century. To them, bomba music was a source of political and spiritual expression. The lyrics conveyed a sense of anger and sadness about their condition, and songs served as a catalyst for rebellions and uprisings. But bomba also moved them to dance and celebrate, helping them create community and identity. The music evolved through contact between slave populations from different Caribbean colonies and regions, including the Dutch colonies, Cuba, Santo Domingo, and Haití. As a result, bomba now has sixteen different rhythms. The rhythms mark the pace of the singing and dance. Bomba instruments include the subidor or primo (bomba barrel or drum), maracas, and the cuá or fuá, two sticks played against the wood of the barrels or another piece of wood. Viento de Agua exemplifies gracimá and hoyoemula rhythms in “Mayela” and “Siré-Siré,” and Raul and Freddy Ayala perform the yubá or “Juba” rhythm.