Musical Instruments—Puerto Rico
Music—Latin American Influences


A Güiro is an instrument used in traditional Puerto Rican music. It is a notched hollowed-out gourd, which produces music by dragging a wooden stick-like object, commonly known as a scrapper, or more formally called a “pua,” on the rigids on the outside of the Güiro. This instrument is believed to have originated with the Taino people, and was discovered as early as 1788. The Güiro is usually played to Spanish folk music, but it can also be used to play Salsa. Modern Güiro’s are often made of metal, plastic, or fiberglass; although this Güiro appears to be made of wood, it suggests that it is fairly older than the instruments produced today. This object is painted traditional colors such as, red, white, and blue, and represents the Puerto Rican flag. Due to this decoration, and its pristine condition, it is likely a souvenir item.

Music plays a very important role in the Puerto Rican culture. Sanchez Korrol emphasizes the importance of music to bring people together. Korrol’s book focuses on the progress of Puerto Ricans in the United States, and also how their music migrated with them. Location does not determine the value of the culture, and the Puerto Rican traditions remain strong even through a flowing migration, from the island to America. Korrol explains that after a long day of work the men would get together and relax, listening to music and playing games. She demonstrates the power of music to bring everyone together, at the end of the day it did not matter where they were, their Puerto Rican culture is where they are. Although they were in America they remained connected to their culture and traditions through the power of music. Juan Flores describes the link between Spanish music and rap in the mid-nineties. This combination of music styles expresses the Puerto Rican influence on music in America. Not only were they helping to evolve music that was already rooted in America, their own traditional style became more popular as well. The music of Puerto Rico thrived on the island, but it also captured the American music industry, and pop culture as well. Music can come to help in times of need, for example the factory workers used music to unwind, others can use it as a tool to come together as a community. In her book My Music is My Flag, Ruth Glasser quotes Cab Calloway and he remembers, “when things get really bad…that’s when people really need entertainment.” This quote resembles the importance of music in today’s culture, and its power to mask the problem in the world. Puerto Rican music includes Salsa, Bomba, Plena, and Raggae, the Güiro can create music for all of these styles. Music in Puerto Rico has always played a very important role in their culture and traditions. The Puerto Rican culture is kept strong due to many generations, and their sense of nationalism, keeping the traditions such as music alive. This musical instrument, Güiro, can create music and bring people together, not only of Puerto Rican origins, but people from all nationalities. Music is a large focus in the Puerto Rican culture, people enjoy singing, playing instruments, and dancing; at the end of the night music is a strong force in not only brining a community together, but by also keeping a culture alive.

Citations for Supplementary Sources and Context: 

Flores, Juan. From Bomba to Hip-hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity. Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Glasser, Ruth. My Music Is My Flag: Puerto Rican Musicians and Their New York Communities, 1917-1940. Vol. [Pbk. ed., 1997]. Latinos in American Society and Culture. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 1997.

“Instruments: Guiro - Music of Puerto Rico.” Accessed May 12, 2017. http://www.musicofpuertorico.com/index.php/instruments/guiro/.

Korrol, Virginia E. Sanchez. From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

Entry Author: Jessica Rodriguez


Unknown Craftsperson


The Personal Collection of Felix Rivera


Felix Rivera


Accession Date: April 6, 2017


Felix Rivera


Copyright to this resource is held by Felix Rivera and is provided here by CCSU for educational purposes only


History Harvest Object #10


.JPG Image Files




Physical Object


History Harvest 2017, Object #9 (formerly object #15).


New Britain, CT; Connecticut; United States; 2017; 2010s; 21st century.



Unknown Craftsperson, “Güiro,” Latino History Harvest, accessed June 17, 2024, https://library.ccsu.edu/latinohistoryharvest/items/show/24.

Output Formats