The United States Effect On Puerto Rican Music

1642 words - 7 pages

The United States Effect on Puerto Rican Music

The United States played an important role in the evolution of Puerto Rican culture, more specifically music. While Puerto Rican culture remains distinct from that of American culture, its historical progression is forever tied with that of the United States. This is evident in the evolution of Puerto Rican music. It is also evident in the experience of Puerto Rican musicians both on the island and in the Diaspora. U.S rule was in part responsible for Puerto Rican migration both within the island and off the island. This is so due to the political and economic relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. As a result new genres, or styles of Puerto Rican music were created. The U.S also controlled how the music of the island would be communicated to the rest of the world. This effected the way Puerto Ricans expressed their identity through music.

The establishment of United States rule in Puerto Rico had an effect on the evolution of Puerto Rican culture as experienced by musicians in the United States. In evaluating the Puerto Rican situation it is important to discuss the context in which Puerto Rican musicians came to the United States, more specifically New York City, and what led to this migration.

The rise of the sugar staple and downfall of coffee in Puerto Rico, as caused by the United States, resulted in a migration of Puerto Rican workers. They moved to sugar processing areas on the island, in search of jobs. Among these workers were musicians. Musicians could not sustain themselves on music alone. Therefore, just as the rest of the population had to follow the jobs, so did they. As workers journeyed from one region or economic situation to another , they took their music with them and were exposed to new forms (Glasser, 17). As the island’s regional populations transformed due to these migrations, older forms of music declined, and new variations of music were created with new content and context. Other U.S. influenced factors contributing to this situation were trade routes, and advances in transportation and roadbuilding. These new variations of Puerto Rican music became part of Puerto Rican culture. Yet, had it not been for United States interference in the lives of Puerto Ricans, these particular musical forms never would have developed.

United States rule gave rise to municipal bands in Puerto Rico. Under U.S. colonialism, the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico decreased in power. As a result, composers and musicians who found work and publicity through church sponserings of their bands no longer had this as a option. Regimental bands also disappeared under U.S. rule. Therefore, musicians and composers had to form municipal bands as a means of displaying their talents, making a living on the island, and training future generations of musicians.

The United States also...

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