plena and bomba -- from Puerto Rico, performed in February at Musical Instrument Museum, Scottsdale, AZ.
Plena music is uniquely Puerto Rican, generally thought to have originated in the early 20th century in the city of Ponce, on the southern coast of Puerto Rico. It’s a hybrid of African, Spanish, and Caribbean sounds. Traditionally, plena functioned as a “singing newspaper,” allowing residents of the barrio to hear about events of the day. The various drums would establish the basic plena rhythm and then interact rhythmically with call-and-response vocals and the melodic instruments.