In the mountains of Puerto Rico, the tradition of the Jíbaro (country folk) was to celebrate the coffee harvest with joyful music and dance. Jíbaro music and dance was the principal musical expression of the humble and hardworking mountain people who worked the coffee planations and inland farms of Puerto Rico. Lively celebrations typically lasted 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 late 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 Tainos.
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.
Written by Dr. Tekina-eiru Maynard (1998)