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9.20

Writing & Language

The song opens with three drummers tapping their panderos. The largest of the panderos--a hand drum called the seguidor--provides the pulse of the music. Two smaller hand drums-- the segundo and the requinto-- weave in and out of that beat. Each pandero adds a layer to the complex, syncopated rhythm I immediately recognize as that of plena music. A maraca and an accordion chime in and are soon joined by the ratchet-like scrape of the güiro. Next, the singers pipe up, one calling and two others responding in a playful chant. As the music builds to a crescendo, I detect a twist on the traditional Puerto Rican folk style: a trombone bursts in and then a clarinet. They add an element of big band jazz. Underneath the fused musical styles, though, the classic plena rhythm, propelled by the panderos, beats on.

 


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