Bailes de las Montañas
The Bailes de las Montañas was the principal musical expression of the
Jíbaro, the humble and hardworking mountain people who worked the coffee
plantations and inland farms of Puerto Rico. By the 17th and 18th centuries,
joyful celebrations in the form of Jíbaro (country) dances typically
followed solemn religious ceremonies. These lively celebrations lasted from
early afternoon until long into the night, and always ended with a Seis
Chorreao, the fastest of all the Seis rhythms. Seis is considered the
backbone of Jíbaro music, and has its roots in the musical forms that came
to Puerto Rico from Spain during the time of colonization and settlement in
the early 17th century. The influence of eight centuries of Moorish
domination in Spain, the influence of Arabic culture, can be heard in this
music, as well as the legacy of
the Taino, the Primera Raiz (first root) of the Jibaro.
The cuatro, a stringed instrument unique to Puerto Rico, is the
predominant musical instrument heard in the Seis Chorreao. A descendant of
the stringed instruments brought to the Island by the Spaniards, the cuatro
is one of the most important symbols to the Puerto Rican people of their
Jíbaro music. Seis is not complete without the guiro, which is an
instrument given to us by the Taino.
Today, many Puerto Ricans associate Jíbaro music with Christmas because
of the tradition of parrandas, lively holiday parties that stroll
from house to house singing joyful aguinaldos (Christmas songs) and begging
for pasteles (Puerto Rican tamales) and coquito (Puerto Rican egg nog).
But no matter what time of year, anytime Puerto Ricans hear musica Jibara
their hearts fill with love for their island and their culture.
References and Suggested Reading
- Wagenheim, Kal and Jimenez de Wagenheim, Olga,
"The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History," Markus Wiener Pub., 1996.
- Rosa-Nieves, Cesareo, "Voz Folklorica de Puerto Rico", Troutman Press 1967.
- Francisco Lopez Cruz, "La Music Folklorica de Puerto Rico", Troutman
Press 1967. [Book]
- Smithsonian Folkways, "Puerto Rico in Washington", 1989. [CD]
- Paquita Pescador de Umpierre, "Manual de Bailes Folkloricos", Editorial
Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1981. [Book]
- See References and Resources
for where to find these treasures and additional suggested reading.
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For more information:
Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard
Puerto Rican Cultural Center
Cultural Center Address: 701 Tillery Street #13, Austin TX 78702-3738 (Map & Directions)
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