Folk Music

Jibaro-inspired bands are among the best-loved musicians on the island, especially for their upbeat ballads and cuatro performances, many of which mix music with storytelling. Unfortunately, they are also the most difficult to find, as they often perform only at private parties, weddings or otherwise impromptu celebrations (not unlike flamenco musicians). The best way to see and hear this type of music is to get in touch with one of the haciendas in the Cordillera Central, such as Hacienda Juanita in Maricao (® 787-838-2550), which often have live music on weekends. Sadly, there is no festival dedicated to seis or Puerto Rican folk music, but you have a very good chance of hearing it at any of the mountain festivals.


At least four instruments evolved from the six-string Spanish classical guitar: the requinto, the bordunua, the cuatro and tiple. The most popular is the cuatro, which has 10 strings arranged in pairs, producing a lovely sound that can swing from mournful to alegre in the brush of the finger. Carved from solid blocks of laurel wood, it is recognized as Puerto Rico's national instrument. Be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars if you want to own one of these.

TIP: Some of the best recorded cuatro music is performed by the Orquesta de Cuerdas de Puerto Rico.

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