Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The dissertation is in two parts. The first part is a musical composition in one movement for orchestra, La Cosecha (The Harvest), based on the Maya Zodiac. The second part is a semiotic analysis of selected Puerto Rican folk music that will conclude that a rhythmic structure organizes all these musical forms in a coherent manner. The composition has thirteen sections each representing a figure of the zodiac. Each figure has a main rhythmic pattern and a chord that it is rotated to create unity among the distinctive chords. The first half represents the dry season and the second the wet season. The purpose of the essay is to show that the most important factor that unifies Puerto Rican folk music is rhythm. I am referring to the musical and dance forms that have become the most known genres in Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Diaspora . These forms are: bomba, aguinaldo, seis, guaracha, danza, and plena. I will define each musical form, relate it to its original social stratum, how its original social stratum changed and how each form functions in today’s Puerto Rican society. These musical forms are united by phrases containing rhythmic figures derived from the 3+3+2 mother cell. This creates a rhythmic structure that unifies all the pieces through a common meter. Also, groups of rhythmic figures are joined by the rotation technique, each group shares common numeric values (e.g., 3+1+2+2, 1+2+2+3, 2+2+3+1, and 2+3+1+2). Groups are expanded by permutation (3+2+1+2, and 3+2+2+1). When all possible permutations are exhausted, sections are formed. Each section shares the same numeric values in distinctive order. Although some of these forms utilize both simple and compound meters (like bomba), only music transcriptions that utilize simple meter (2/4, 3/4) will be presented. This is important because the 3+3+2 pattern can be extended by adding two eighth notes or four eighth notes. The important aspect is that the pulse is divided by two. The title of the monograph is La Clave: A Cultural Identity. This title was selected because the paper will show a cultural identification of Puerto Ricans with the rhythmic figures derived from the mother cell that appear in the rotation table. I will explore the semiotic aspects of the rhythmic figures as experienced in the melodic lines of selected works. Puerto Ricans identify themselves with this musical “language” by listening to different genres, all containing the mother cell.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Stephen David Beck



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Music Commons