Worship and Music - Ethnomusicology


Master of Arts (MA)


Katherine Morehouse, Paul Rumrill


Cultural Identity and Music, Puerto Rican Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Puerto Rican Diaspora in the United States


Ethnomusicology | Music | Music Education | Musicology | Music Theory | Other Music


Many musical styles around the world have been born from struggle and search for cultural identity. The same idea applies to Jazz and the Afro-Caribbean music created within the African diaspora and influenced by Latin and European styles in the United States. More recently, the meaning of diaspora has been used to refer to a group of people and some aspects of their culture (Rivera 2010, 104). For older and newer generations of Puerto Rican musicians two traditions have intersected to create a modern form of expression that reaffirms Puerto Rico’s musical creativity and contemporary tendency. In 1989 Warren Pinckney wrote the last known paper about jazz made by Puerto Ricans. Besides Warren Pinckney’s article, Puerto Rican Jazz and the Incorporation of Folk Music: An Analysis of New Musical Direction, (1989) I have not found another paper or essay published specifically about jazz music made by Puerto Ricans. The contribution and innovation of these musicians and rhythms has been overlooked in most cases or even completely neglected in the literature. This thesis will explore the musical influence jazz has had in traditional Puerto Rican music and vice versa. It will also discuss the modernization and revitalization of traditional Puerto Rican music by incorporating jazz, providing a new visualization of Latin American music. The field research undergirding this thesis was driven by three goals: first, to demonstrate the contribution of Puerto Rican musicians to contemporary Jazz and Latin Jazz; second, to determine how movement back and forth between the United States and the island has fueled both jazz and traditional music; and third, to describe how this movement has revitalized and modernized Puerto Rican musical traditions. What has emerged is a story that follows an outline of traditional Puerto Rican music and Jazz tradition being melded together. It is a statement of musical identity that has represented jazz musicians on the island for decades. Some of the best musicians and Jazz music have come from the exchange of Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States and the island. By merging Puerto Rico’s traditional music into the jazz format, new generations of musicians are being exposed to their roots with a contemporary approach. Puerto Rican musicians found jazz music to be a vehicle to express their musical identities. Because Latin jazz music was already sodden with Cuban influences, Puerto Rican jazz musicians decided to branch out and incorporate their own musical traditions, creating something unique.