Palos is considered the true Dominican Rural roots/ Pop religious type music and an extremely important genre. This type of music may eventually disappear, or just be heard on a few recordings as the cultural practices that support this type of music die out too. We want to keep up all the old traditions in Dominican Republic so as we find information on this old type of music we will post it.
Thanks  Macocael for the help!

Palos (tree in colloquial Spanish) music, also known as Atabales (from the Arabic tabl),  Bambula and Quiyombo. The music is drum based and is played on drums usually made by the player. There are typically three types of drums in Palos music. El Tambor Mayor which is the lead or master drummer who plays the largest and deepest of these drums. The lead drum is many times accompanied by two smaller drums called alcahuetes which interpreted means pimps. these drums are also known as Palo Major, El Tambor Mas Pequeño, this is a small drum and El Alcahuete, El Tambor Mediano: El Balsié and the medium sized drum. These drums are made from trees hollowed out and covered with either goat or cow skins for the head. Some drums have only one opening while others have both ends or the tree trunk open. Each drum is as unique as its creator making its own unique sound.
Grupo Sabor, located in Vermont, plays traditional music along with merengue and salsa. Thanks Alejandro Torrens for the info.!

drums made of logs used in dominican palos music
used by permission torrens and fenton
maestro catarey dominican palos drummer
These drums are played for saints’ festivals or cofradías, for more personal vow type festivals and for the dead known as Palo de Muertos. Each type of festival commands a different type of rhythm. These rhythms are mainly distinguished by the words of the song. Really it is not a song as we know it but more like a call and response type of improvisational style of song with the lead singer changing spontaneously. The caller refers much to death, dead ancestors and religion.

Drum dance or baile de palos, is a couple dance that symbolizes ritual pursuit. The dance has a balancing step that is alternated with a circular step. First going in one direction then changing to the other direction. It is said during the death ritual dances that the spirit of the dead person will enter an heir and dance.
used by permission torrens and fenton
El Maestro Catarey
Religious music that is usually heard at ceremonies of private brotherhoods. It was performed by singers who carry on old family traditions. There were Palos, summoning African deities cloaked as Christian saints, from Claudio Fortunato y sus Guedeses, and salves, fervent call-and-response songs, performed by Dona Chicha with nine other singers and three percussionists. Dona Chicha had an extraordinary voice that harked back to West Africa: strong and cutting, with improvisational phrasing that grew ever more elaborate. The impassioned quaver of her sustained high notes
Recorded by Verna Gillis and Ramón Daniel Pérez Martínez.
“Lying mid-way between Puerto Rico and Cuba in the West Indies is the Dominican Republic, which occupies the eastern two-thirds of an island, the other of which is Haiti. The aboriginal name of the island was Quisqueya, which means ‘mother of the earth.’ When Columbus discovered the island in 1942 he renamed it ‘Española.’ In Santo Domingo, founded in 1496, one still sees the remains of the first church built in America. Here is the house where Cortés kept the court records before he had even heard of Mexico. From here Ponce de León set out in search of the Fountain of Youth…”

These are custom made albums with some lost music from Dominican Republic. If you would like to listen to samples of the songs click on the album cover/picture and it will take you to that recording. Also if you are interested in purchasing the albums just click on the cover art and it will take you to that album on the Earth CD web site. Tell Larry we here at Colonial Zone-DR sent you! Also available are DVD's (including the one above) or various music and events that are very interesting
MUSIC FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC    Volume 1: The Island of Quisqueya
The aboriginal name of the Dominican Republic was Quisqueya, which means ‘mother of the earth. When Columbus discovered the island in 1492 he re-named it 'Espanola'.
Work songs, feast celebrations, popular music, and religious music including Palos are documented here.

Recorded by Verna Gillis and Ramón Daniel Pérez Martínez.

Check out Earth CDS for more great music that you won't be able to find anywhere. Thanks Larry for the info.
Miguel Fenton, originally from Dominican Republic studied music at the Santo Domingo Conservatory. Miguel took instrument making classes and studied in a variety of percussion workshops in Cuba, Haiti and with Alto Moreida (Brazillian Percussion). In 1975, he was a percussionist with the Santo Domingo Music Conservatory Orchestra, the Dominican Folk Ballet, and played in the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival.
Mostly interested in his country’s musical roots, from 1982 to 1985 he lead the band Raices. They focused on Jazz,  Dominican folklore influenced music, and they had many concerts using experimental blends of percussion. He has become very popular in Canada.
More info at
picture/image miguel fenton


AsaDife, performing the rural carnival music called gaga
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This video from Earth CD's is an exert from DVD 'The Culture of Palo'," It is an archival collection of all the marvelous musical-religious expressions encountered in the course of filming 'MISTERIOS'. This footage is presented as a valuable and long-awaited addition to the scarce material available on the subject of religious music and traditions in the Dominican Republic. Anthropologists, ethno-musicologists and the general public will find this work entertaining and educational. It will also offer them a new and valid teaching tool, but most of all, help preserve at least a small part of this rapidly disappearing and mutating oral tradition."
          More interesting videos about Palos music.
MISTERIOS - Vodou dancing with fire eating
Vodou - dealing with bad spirits
LA REYNA DE LOS PALOS (filmed at the Caribbean Cultural/ Spiritual festival in Washington Heights, NY, USA.)
Fiesta de Palos in Dominican Republic
Fiesta de Palos in the community of El Capá, San Juan de la Maguana, Dominican Republic
Misterios - A journey in the complex and mysterious world of Vudu, filmed in New York, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic(DVD)from Amazon
The Culture of Palo - Palo Music and Oral Traditions from the Dominican Republic from Amazon
Luis "Terror" Dias, one of the most versatile Dominican artists with the "Palo Mayor" video. More information on Luis Dias here.

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Dominican Music - Música Palos | Palso Music

The Palo Monte groups normally consist of two to three drummers with optional accompaniment. If they are accompanied it is usually by the metal  cylindrical scrapers known as güiras. They also may have maracas, a pandero or tambourine and clave which are sticks they hit together or on the outside of the drum.

Carlito El Palero y Conjunto Tambú Los Originales from San Feilpe, Dominican Republic

Carlito El Palero y Conjunto Tambú Los Originales
Latin / Musica de Palos Afro-Dominicano / Palos Afro-Dominicano Urbano is:
Carlito el Palero- Palo Mejor
Jonathan - Alcahuete
Cuningo - Bassiel
Gebo - Guira
Julito - pandero y clave

Carlito El Palero started playing the drums when he was 15 following in his fathers footsteps. He believes in the 21 Divisiones de los Misterios de Luz que sirven a Dios Todopoderoso del Cielo (21 Divisions of the Mysteries of Light who serve God Almighty in Heaven). Keeping alive the spiritual heritage and culture of their African heritage sharing their beliefs and devotion to God Almighty through faith. Trying to preserve the heritage and keep it alive to pass on to generations to come.

Conjunto Tambu Los Originales, mostly plays their cultural music in the Festivals of the Saints (for a listing of many of the Festivals of the Saints around Dominican Republic) also known as "Mani". They originally played where they could doing it just to share their music. Then in 2002 they got a manager, Mamacita Cele who worked to promote the band. In June 2011 they finally created their first professionally recorded CD. The music preserves the original styles of the Afro Dominican music yet gives it a new urban flair.

Listen to one of my favorite songs of Conjunto Tambu Los Originales of their new CD Volume 01 called "Oh! Gran Batala"
Contact 809-916-9274 Find them in Facebook click like and help to promote their music.

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