Latin Roots: Bomba Y Plena : World Cafe In this installment of World Cafe's Latin Roots series, host David Dye speaks with Grammy-winning producer Aaron Levinson about two beloved traditional genres, bomba and plena.

Latin Roots: Bomba Y Plena

Latin Roots: Bomba Y Plena

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Nuyorican trombonist Willie Colon. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

Nuyorican trombonist Willie Colon.

Courtesy of the artist


  • Willie Colon & Mon Rivera, "Baila Mi Bomba"
  • Miguel Zenon, "Esta Plena"

In the Latin music scene, there's always an innate pairing of the musical styles bomba and plena as one genre, but the two Afro-Puerto Rican genres are quite distinct. In this, the 27th segment of Latin Roots, Aaron Levinson discusses the birth of bomba and plena, as well as the different musical and rhythmic paths the genres have taken.

A Grammy-winning producer with expertise in the Latin Tropical scene, Levinson describes the production of a bomba beat, which incorporates two drums, a maraca and a highly syncopated 5/8 rhythm. On the other hand, for plena, a trio sings in harmony with folkloric hand drums called the panderetas.

Listen to the Latin Roots Bomba Y Plena playlist on Spotify.

Latin Roots is made possible by the Wyncote Foundation.