Music Video

How is a Puerto Rican bomba drum created?

July 2016

Marvett Perez (1961-2013) discusses the how a Puerto Rican bomba drum is constructed.  This bomba drum is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s collections.

Smithsonian Artifact Featured in this Video

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Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Cultures & Communities
Artifact Walls exhibit
Music & Musical Instruments
Many Voices, One Nation
Many Voices, One Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
date made
ca 1954
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
This wooden-cask drum was used to play bomba, one of the oldest forms of music in Puerto Rico. One end of the drum is covered in animal skin with a fur fringe. This is held in place by a wooden band that is tensioned with fiber ropes hooked on four wooden pegs driven into the sides. Bomba was created on the plantations of Puerto Rico by enslaved Africans and their descendants in the 1680s. Like the Cuban rumba, bomba must include dance in its performance, reflecting its west African musical origins. Bomba ensembles usually feature three differently pitched drums and a single maraca.
Credit Line
Gift of Rafael Cepeda Atiles
Place Made
Puerto Rico: San Juan, San Juan
location where used
Puerto Rico
Physical Description
goatskin (hide material)
iron (overall material)
paint (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 26 cm x 26 cm x 6.5 cm; 10 1/4 in x 10 1/4 in x 2 9/16 in
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Object Name
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