Culture and Identity

This Interactive Map Shows Palo Music Across The Dominican Republic

Palo music players in San Francisco de Macorís.

Written by: Gerald Lopez 

Palos in our country is often very underrepresented in some very key regions such as my hometown of San Francisco de Macorís.Often my own family’s Palo festivities were very much absent in much of the popular Palos repertoire.  I did this because I’ve always wanted to create a map of Palos across the DR to highlight the very important genre across the country.  Many researchers only focus on the South-West of the Dominican Republic, While the East and North are largely ignored. I created over a period of time to show how widespread Palos are. Also so we can see the strong differences and similarities that exist around the Dominican Republic, many times showcasing different African ethnic influences of which I speak below, in things like roping, rhythms, dances, etc.

I hope you enjoy this map, which will never be complete but rather an open ongoing project that will continue growing while more and more Fiestas de Palo videos are uploaded to YouTube. But for now, I did try to ensure that it gives a good overview of the regional differences and the differences between rural towns within certain regions.

Palos, Quijombos, Juambeses, Atabels, etc are musical styles deeply tied to our roots, with ancient foundations. They are distributed across the coast of the Dominican Republic. These are based on a mixture of mainly influences from across different African tribes (ethnic groups), which form this music style almost in its entirety, except some indigenous and European elements which exist in regions where these two other influences were stronger.

The truth is that Palo music shows it’s moments of greatest difference from town to town, region to region influences from distinct tribes which have contributed to this style between 1492 and 1822. Some amarres are particularly from people in the Southeast regions of Nigeria, others seem to be amarres from Senegal, and others are from Congo/Angola/Cameroon. The same occurs with the singing, dancing and taboos. One can say that though we call it “Palos” singularly, they are easily different musical expressions when compared from town to town, and region to region. Now, they do all have in the common the great Bantú influence of people from the Congo/Angola region which was is where a great amount of our ancestors were stolen from.
Originally published in Spanish in the blog Cultura Campesina Del Noreste Dominicano



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