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.
References and Suggested Reading
- 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.