|Stylistic origins||Afro-Dominican rhythms|
|Cultural origins||Dominican Republic|
|Typical instruments||alcahuete, auxiliar, mayor, and minor palo drums, guira, maracas, vocals|
|Music of the Dominican Republic|
Palo is an Afro-Dominican sacred music that can be found through the island. The drum and human voice are the principal instruments. Palo is played at religious ceremonies - usually coinciding with saint's days - as well as for secular parties and special occasions. Its roots are in the Congo region of central-west Africa, but it is mixed with European influences in the melodies. Palos are related to Dominican folk Catholicism, which includes a pantheon of deities/saints (here termed misterios) much like those found in the Afro-American syncretic religious traditions of Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, and elsewhere. Palos are usually associated with the lower class, black and mixed populations. They can be seen in different regions of Dominican Republic, but with variations.
Palo music is played on long drums termed palos. The word palos means sticks, and therefore all Dominican palos drums are instruments made from hollowed out logs. The head of the drum is made of cowhide and it is attached to the log portion with hoops and pegs in the Eastern region, or with nails in the Southwest. There is a master drum (palo mayor) which is the large, wide drum played with slimmer drums (alcahuetes) alongside: two in the East or three elsewhere. Palos are usually played with guiras, which are metal scrapers. They may also be played with maracas, or a little stick used to hit the master drum, called the catá. The Dominican region in which the palos are played determines the form, the number of the instruments, and how they are played.
Palos are associated with the Afro- Dominican brotherhoods called cofradías. Originally, the brotherhoods were composed solely of males. As time progressed, females and family inheritance maintained the brotherhoods’ sanctity. Each brotherhood is devoted to a particular saint. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the brotherhood is to honor the saint with a festival. Historically, cofradías were established on principles similar to those of the Mediterranean guild-based societies and those founded by Africans that inhabited southern Spain. Through colonization and the slave trade, these traditions were brought to the Dominican Republic.
Palo music is generally played at festivals honoring saints (velaciones) or during other religious events. The configuration of instruments present depends on the region in which these events take place. Palo drums are played with the hands, held between the legs, and tied to the palero's waist by a rope. The three paleros each play a distinct beat on their palos, which ultimately blend together. These rhythms vary depending on the region as well. For example, in the East, the "palo corrido" rhythm is popular, while in San Cristóbal, one may be more likely to find the "palo abajo" rhythm. While they play their drums, one of the paleros simultaneously sings verses of a song. The surrounding audience often invokes spirits of ancestors or saints, and it is not unusual to encounter participants becoming possessed at these events.
The music of Latin America refers to music originating from Latin America, namely the Romance-speaking countries and territories of the Americas and the Caribbean south of the United States. Latin American music also incorporates African music from slaves who were transported to the Americas by European settlers as well as music from the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Due to its highly syncretic nature, Latin American music encompasses a wide variety of styles, including influential genres such as cumbia, bachata, bossa nova, merengue, rumba, salsa, samba, son, and tango. During the 20th century, many styles were influenced by the music of the United States giving rise to genres such as Latin pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and reggaeton.
African music is a tradition mainly played at gatherings at special occasions the traditional music of Africa, given the vastness of the continent, is historically ancient, rich and diverse, with different regions and nations of Africa having many distinct musical traditions. Music in Africa is very important when it comes to religion. Songs and music are used in rituals and religious ceremonies, to pass down stories from generation to generation, as well as to sing and dance to.
The music of the Dominican Republic is primarily influenced by West African, European, and native Taino influences. The Dominican Republic is mainly known for its merengue and bachata music, both of which are the most popular forms of music in the country.
The music of Ecuador has a long history. Pasillo is a genre of indigenous Latin music. It is extremely popular in Ecuador, where it is the "national genre of music." Pasillo as a genre is also present in the highland regions of Colombia and to a lesser extent, Panama and Venezuela.
The conga, also known as tumbadora, is a tall, narrow, single-headed drum from Cuba. Congas are staved like barrels and classified into three types: quinto, tres dos or tres golpes (middle), and tumba or salidor (lowest). Congas were originally used in Afro-Cuban music genres such as conga and rumba, where each drummer would play a single drum. Following numerous innovations in conga drumming and construction during the mid-20th century, as well as its internationalization, it became increasingly common for drummers to play two or three drums. Congas have become a popular instrument in many forms of Latin music such as son, descarga, Afro-Cuban jazz, salsa, songo, merengue and Latin rock.
The culture of the Dominican Republic is a diverse mixture of different influences from around the world. The Dominican people and their customs have origins consisting predominately in a European cultural basis, with both African and native Taíno influences.
Palo, also known as Las Reglas de Congo, is a religion with various denominations which developed in Cuba among Central African slaves and their descendants who originated in the Congo Basin. Denominations often referred to as "branches" of Palo include Mayombe, Monte, Briyumba, and Kimbisa. The Spanish word palo "stick" was applied to the religion in Cuba due to the use of wooden sticks in the preparation of altars, which were also called la Nganga, el caldero, nkisi or la prenda. Priests of Palo are known as Paleros, Tatas (men), Yayas (women) or Nganguleros. Initiates are known as ngueyos or pino nuevo.
Abakuá, also sometimes known as Nañigo, is an Afro-Cuban men's initiatory fraternity or secret society, which originated from fraternal associations in the Cross River region of southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon.
Merengue típico is a musical genre of the Dominican Republic, and the oldest style of merengue. Merengue típico is the term preferred by most musicians as it is more respectful and emphasizes the music's traditional nature. The Instruments that are used are the accordion, bass guitar, güira, conga, and tambora (drum)
Cabildos de nación were African ethnic associations created in Cuba in the late 16th century based on the Spanish cofradías that were organized in Seville for the first time around the 14th century. The Sevillian cofradías had the tutelage of a Catholic saint and were held in the saint’s chapel.
Afro-Dominicans are Dominicans of predominant Black African ancestry. They represent 15.8% of the Dominican Republic's population according to 2014 estimates. The Afro-Dominican population is mainly concentrated in the Santo Domingo metro region, the southeastern plains, and generally in coastal areas.
The Dominican tambora is a two headed drum played in merengue music. In many countries, especially the Dominican Republic, tamboras were made from salvaged rum barrels. Performers on the tambora are referred to as tamboreros.
Cocolo is a term used in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean to refer to non-Hispanic African descendants, or darker-skinned people in general. The term originated in the Dominican Republic and is historically used to refer to Anglophone Caribbean immigrants and their descendants and more rarely, towards those from the Francophone Caribbean. Namely the Cocolos of San Pedro de Macorís, Puerto Plata, the Samaná Peninsula, and other Afro-descendants who lived in coastal areas and were culturally distinct from the lighter Dominicans who primarily lived in the interior of the country.
Christianity is the most widely professed religion in the Dominican Republic. Historically, Catholicism dominated the religious practices of the country, and as the official state religion it receives financial support from the government. In modern times Protestant and non-Christian groups, like Islam, Jews, have experienced a population boom.
Villa Mella, or San Felipe de Villa Mella, is a municipality in Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic. Villa Mella is located north of the Isabela River, about 6 miles to the north of the center of Santo Domingo, and is considered an additional neighborhood of the capital. This sector is considered one of the economically stable areas in the Santo Domingo metropolitan area. It is also home to the musical organization known as the Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Congos of Villa Mella, recognized in 2001 by UNESCO.
The bombo criollo, or simply bombo, is a family of Latin American drums derived from the European bass drum and native Latin American drum traditions. These drums are of smaller dimensions than the orchestral bass drum, and their frame can be made of wood or steel. They can be held vertically or diagonally on the body or a stand. The specific make of the instrument depends on the regional tradition. In Argentina, the bombo criollo is called bombo legüero. In Cuba, it is known as bombo de comparsa due to its use in comparsas. In other countries, the term tambora is commonly used.
Holy Week in Spain is the annual tribute of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.
Afro-Venezuelans are Venezuelans of African descent. They are mostly descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the Western Hemisphere by John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake during the Atlantic slave trade. This term also sometimes refers to the combining of African and other cultural elements found in Venezuelan society such as the arts, music, religion, race, language and class culture.
Dominican Vudú, also known as Las 21 Divisiones, is a syncretic religion of Caribbean origin which developed on the island of Hispaniola.
Music of African heritage in Cuba derives from the musical traditions of the many ethnic groups from different parts of West Africa that were brought to Cuba as slaves between the 16th and 19th centuries. Members of some of these groups formed their own ethnic associations or cabildos, in which cultural traditions were conserved, including musical ones.