Merengue!

Created by Antonio Alvarado

Type of Music

People don't really know how exactly merengue got it's name. Merengue may have got it's name from a French dessert meringue, but it is also likely to be associated with the West African words related to dance and music. Merengue is played, listened, and danced to in the Dominican Republic most commonly. Now, with the internet, merengue can be played anywhere. Merengue is particularly associated with the Dominican Republic and the Dominicans. Merengue is played often at Latin clubs where people can dance and have a good time.
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History of the Music

Merengue was first introduced in the middle of the 1800's. In the Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo, the dictator from 1930 to 1961, promoted merengue as the country's national music and dance style. Merengue influenced the Dominicans' lives tremendously. It is the very heart and soul of music in the Dominican Republic. Merengue is part of the Dominican national identity and those who live in the Dominican Republic are very proud of what they consider their very own form of music and dance.
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Characteristics of the Music

Merengue has fast arrangements with a 2/4 beat. Each measure has two beats of music, so it would go like one, two, one, two, one, two, and so on. There are three main types of Merengue in the Dominican Republic:


1.) Perico ripiao - This is the oldest style most commonly played. It is played with all manner of instrumentation, but the tambora and the güira are the most important instruments.

2.) Merengue de orquesta (big band merengue) - This is the most popular and it uses saxophones, a piano, timbales, hi-hat, backup singers, conga, tambora, güira, and bass.

3.) Merengue de guittarra - Guitar merengue.


The instruments for a traditional merengue band are a diatonic accordion, a tambora, which is a two sided drum held on the lap, and a güira, which is a percussion instrument that sounds like a maraca. Now, a bass guitar, a piano, saxophone, and other instruments are used. Merengue is played anywhere from the streets of the Dominican Republic to ballrooms in New York. There are no special costumes associated with merengue. Some famous artists associated with merengue are Elvis Crespo, Juan Luis Guerra, Los Hermanos Rosario, and Wilfrido Vargas.
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Connection to Dance

Merengue has it's own dance associated with it also called merengue. Partners hold each other in a closed position. The leader holds the follower's waist with the leader's right hand, while holding the followers right hand with the leader's left hand at the follower's eye level. Partners bend their knees slightly left and right, thus making the hips move left and right. The hips of the leader and follower move in the same direction throughout the song. Partners may walk sideways or circle each other, in small steps.
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Learn to Dance Merengue
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The Music Today

Today, merengue isn't as popular as it used to be. It is still played in Latin clubs and people still dance to it at ballrooms. Elvis Crespo is definitely one of the most influential merengue artists today. Merengue isn't supposed to get any more popular in the future. Just go to a Latin club and when they play merengue, dance!
Elvis Crespo - Luna Llena
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