Segunda Quimbamba

Plena

The southern coast of Puerto Rico, Ponce in particular, is often cited as the birthplace of Plena in the early 1900s in the working class barrios that saw the integration of native Blacks from Puerto Rico along with Blacks from other islands who together created this form of drumming and singing.

The pandero or pandereta drum of Plena has a rich, universal history throughout the world. Centuries before Plena was born in Puerto Rico, hand-held, frame drums were part of the musical traditions of regions as dispersed as Egypt and Persia, Siberia and Asia, Scotland and Ireland, and Northern, Central, and Western Africa. Because it is the last musical genre from Puerto Rico to develop we can better trace its history and its pioneers. Among them, in Ponce, we have José “Bumbum” Oppenheimer and Carolina Clark. He was considered the leading composer and Plena musician of his time; she was considered one of the best pandero players of her time.

Plena has always played a role in chronicling current events and bembeteo such that its contemporary practice places it at the center of protests, strikes, funerals, baseball games, and other public venues primarily because it is portable, adaptable and inviting.

The first Plenas ever recorded were done in New York City in the 1920s and 1930s and it led to significant commercial success in record sales, promotions, venues and dances throughout the Puerto Rican diaspora as well as on the island