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What Does the Music of Puerto Rico Say About Puerto Ricans?
By Jaime Serrat
The simple answer is: just about everything!
That answer is based on two equally simple premises:
Here, we will explore various examples of the music created by Puerto Ricans, both from Puerto Rico and elsewhere, in order to learn something about Puerto Ricans and their culture.
The focus is not on the individual composers or other artists that made this music possible, although this would certainly be illuminating in its own right but, rather, on their music and what it says about Puerto Rico, the country, and Puerto Ricans, the people.
It is important to understand that by "Puerto Rican", we rely an inclusive definition that encompasses not only Puerto Ricans on the "island" itself, but includes those that have migrated from their homeland. While the diaspora of Puerto Ricans has historically been concentrated in the northeastern region of the United States, we will include ALL Puerto Ricans, everywhere.
Certainly, significant portions of the large body of music created by Puerto Ricans deals with universal themes, such as love, and as such, do not differentiate Puerto Ricans from any other group of people.
There are, however, many other themes which, while not unique to Puerto Ricans, express something of value to understanding the Puerto Rican culture as distinct from others, including other Latino, or Hispanic cultures.