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Columbia College Chicago
Bomba y Plena

Bomba y Plena

Definition of Style

These two distinct styles developed side by side in the coastal lowlands of Puerto Rico, which was colonized by the Spanish beginning in the sixteenth century. Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean islands developed unique musical traditions that often combined Spanish language and song forms with African-derived instrumentation and rhythms. Bomba, more African-derived than plena, is frequently performed by groups of individuals and couples who sing call-and-response figures to the accompaniment of drums and percussion instruments. Plena, on the other hand, is a song form performed by accompanied singers and typically features satirical, narrative lyrics that describe an individual or an auspicious event.


Musical Examples