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Puerto Rican Music and Folklore:Bomba

Updated on April 3, 2014
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Anan is an online blogger and private consultant since 2009 in the areas of relationships and interfaith spirituality.

Bomba Music: Mama, cuidame a Belen

Bomba and it's origins

When the slaves were brought during colonial times during the 17 th century to Puerto Rico, they brought with them a whole array of influences and customs.One of those was their music.

Poetry behind the music

Music is indeed the finest form of expresion in any culture. It carries stories and feelings alike. Many people did not know how to read or write, so they would use music , in this case Bomba to communicate a message of to pass news from town to town.

Alongside the west shore of the island a need to unwind and express their anger and daily occurrences gave way to Bomba, at the rhythm of the drums.

There are around sixteen different kinds of Rhythims that are the result of fusions of styles.

Music instruments

Bomba music is primarily drums,in which the soul of the melody resides. Then other instruments were added to complement them.


  • Primo- There is only one primo in the band. Marks the Rhythm of the dancer.
  • Cuá
  • Buleadores o barril segundo




The different rhythms of Bomba vary from town to town, and also the purpose of the dance.

  • Guembe
  • Leró
  • Cunyá
  • Bele
  • Holande
  • yubá
  • Sicá
  • Cuembe


The main influence on this genre is African. Also there is french aspects of the music. Dancing Bomba is like telling a story with your body.

The movements are the physical manifestation of the sound the drums and the story behind the music. Is what we call poetry in motion.

Bomba today

Today is mostly relegated to the old school of folklore, although there are places where this music still is taught. Specially in the south of the island and New York City. Bomba has evolved into other types of music and dance.

Keeping it alive in the culture. Once you hear your first Bomba is impossible to forget it, your body reacts to it and you' want to start moving at the rhythm of the drums.

Cuando Diego bailo


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    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 4 years ago from California

      Thanks teaches, there is so much to learn about any given culture. I always found it fascinating. For some reason, I love percussion rhythms. So this a part of my culture that is ingrained in my mind, at least underneath. Fun isn't it!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I didn't realize there was so much to this type of music. Love the photos and history. Thanks for the education.