The seis is a type of Puerto Rican Jiabro dance music, related to décima. It originated in the later half of the 17th century in the southern part of Spain. The seis is influenced by Spanish, Arab, and Taino cultures.[1] The Arabian aspects come from Spain, where the Muslims or the Moors had ruled for over 700 years. Like other Jibaro music, the seis is associated with Christmas, folkloric festivals, concursos de trovadores (poetry-singing contests), and other large celebrations.[2] The word means six, which may have come from the custom of having six couples perform the dance, though many more couples eventually became quite common. Men and women form separate lines down the hall or in an open place of beaten earth, one group facing the other. The lines would approach and cross each other and at prescribed intervals the dancers would tap out the rhythm with their feet.

Music of Puerto Rico
A (c. 1900 - 1915) Puerto Rican Cuatro
General topics
Related articles
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthemLa Borinqueña
Regional music


The seis was made for a solo voice and accompanying instruments.[3] The melodies and harmonies are simple, usually performed on the cuatro, guitar, bongo, and güiro, although other indigenous instruments are used depending on the available musicians. Spanish instrumentation and harmonies, typically from the Andalusian region, are prominent. In the 20th century, Afro-Caribbean aspects were included through the bongo, syncopated bass, and Cuban rhythms. These were especially used in studio recordings.[4] There are different variations of the seis named after towns where they originated from (ex: seis fajardeño or seis de Fajardo), their composers (ex: seis de Andino), the specific dance style (ex: seis chorreao), harmonic style (ex: seis mapayé),[5] and type of text, which is often improvised (ex: seis con décima). The seis con décima is one of the types that is not danced to and it’s the slowest. The seis mapayé or le lo lai is always in minor and the lyrics are about nostalgia.[3] Each variation has its own musical tonality and key (major or minor), making it sound happy or sad.[6]


Since the 19th century, the lyrics are about migration, urbanization, love, patriotism, sociopolitics, maternal devotion, and other topics.[7][4] Migration is an important part as a massive wave of Puerto Ricans migrated to the United States between the 20s and 50s. These massive migrations started after the American invasion in Puerto Rico when the economy changed from agriculturally based to industrially based, leaving many Puerto Ricans without jobs on the island. The Puerto Rican government encouraged the Puerto Ricans to migrate, especially after World War II. Most Puerto Ricans dwelled in New York, where Puerto Rican music was played at social clubs, especially Jibaro music.[3]

See also


  1. "Seis Chorreao". Puerto Rican Cultural Center - Music, Dance, and Culture of Puerto Rico.
  2. Solis, Ted (2005). "'You Shake Your Hips Too Much': Diasporic Values and Hawai'i Puerto Rican Dance Culture". Ethnomusicology. 49 (1): 75–119. doi:10.2307/20174354. JSTOR 20174354.
  3. Singer, Roberta L.; Friedman, Robert; various artists (1977). Caliente=Hot: Puerto Rican and Cuban Musical Expression in New York (Media notes). New World Records.
  4. Manuel, Peter; Largey, Michael D. (2016). Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae. Temple University Press. ISBN 9781592134649.
  5. "Ramito – El Cantor de la Montaña vol.5,Ansonia | Global Groove Independent".
  6. "El Seis Puertorriqueño". Decimanía INC.
  7. Manuel, Peter (1994). "Puerto Rican Music and Cultural Identity: Creative Appropriation of Cuban Sources from Danza to Salsa". Ethnomusicology. 3 (2): 249–80.
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