Bomba: its musical structure

by Edgardo Díaz Díaz

Like many other musical genres of African derivation, bomba is mostly based on a call-and- response structure common to virtually all bomba styles and sub-genres.

In general, a leading singer (male cantaor or female cantaora) begins a sung text, mainly in French Creole or Spanish (with possible West African linguistic interjections): [from 0:22 to 0:37]

Depending on the dance and musical style designated for the occasion, a group of dancers do one among various dance forms of the bomba repertoire. Meanwhile, a choir replicates or responds in unison to the leading voice, with the accompanying beats of an ensemble consisting of barrel-shaped membranophones (also known as bulá drums) and two idiophones. Again, let’s hear the leading singer and the rest of the guys: [from 0:22 to 1:18]

Content credits Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Image Credits: Cortesy of Edgardo Díaz Díaz| All Rights Reserved