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Bomba is a style of music and dance imported from West Africa during the time of slavery, with its modern development beginning in Loíza and Ponce. Bomba was played during the festival of St. James, since slaves were not allowed to worship their own gods, and soon developed into countless styles based on the kind of dance intended to be used at the same time; these include leró, yubá, cunyá, babú and belén.
Bomba often begins with a liana, or a female singer who is answered by the chorus and musicians with a 2/4 or 6/8 rhythm before the dancing begins. Harmony is not used. Dancers interact with the drummer, who is usually solo and dance in pairs without touching each other.
The dancers challenge the drummers in a kind of competing dialog, like the controversia mentioned earlier. The drummers respond with a challenge of their own. Sometimes one group of dancers will tempt another group to respond to a set of complicated steps. As the bomba proceeds, tension rises and becomes more excited and passionate. It's not unusual for a bomba to end with all the performers thoroughly soaked with perspiration.
The instrumentation is simple: usually the main rhythm is maintained by a low-pitched drum known as the buleador, while the high-pitched drum or subidor dialogs with the dancers. More complicated counter rhythms are created with sticks beaten on any resonant surface. A third set of rhythms is maintained by a maraca.
Rafael Cepeda and the rest of the Cepeda family have long dominated the genre, while Paracumbé and others have achieved moderate success. .

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