Criolla is a genre of Cuban music and song. It is a type of countryside music, or música campesina. The term is said to derive from canción criolla, or creole song. This Cuban genre developed in the late 19th century, and it also occurred in Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico at about the same time. The criolla is similar to other forms of the romantic repertoire of that period, such as the canción, the guajira and the bolero. Criollas usually consist of a short introduction, followed by two sections of sixteen bars each. They are written in a slow tempo in 6/8 time. Many criollas were first heard in the bufo theatre. They became a typical part of the trovador's repertoire, and would naturally be accompanied by the guitar.
One of the first composers to adopt the criolla was Gaspar Villate; their major composer was Luis Casas Romero who, around 1900, took his ideas from the coros de clave performed in black barrios and in carnavals. His best-known criollas were Carmela and El mambí. Other composers who used the genre were Jorge Anckermann (Linda criolla), Alberto Villalón (Quiero besarte), Sindo Garay (Mujer bayamesa).