Merengue

Dominican Dance and Music

About

Merengue is sometimes called the national dance of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic shares the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with its neighbour Haiti. Merengue music in turn shares similarities with the Haiti's Méringue or Mereng music. The Dominican Merengue is sung Spanish while the Haitian Mereng is sung in Haiti's native Creole. Merengue was also influenced by the Cuban music and dance called Upa Habanera. Today, Merengue is still highly practiced in Dominican Republic. Maybe Merengue projected future is to go to cuba or jamaica.

Origin

The origins of the dance, which followed on the heals of the introduction of the music, are surrounded by folklore. One of the basic steps is a series to side steps to the man's left called the chasse or chase. A version of this step is sometimes danced with a stiff right leg which is dragged to meet the left foot after which the left foot steps to the left repeating the sequence. This particular style is attributed to a war hero, some say a pirate, who had a wooden right leg. He would dance on the Dominican beaches and his style was soon emulated by the rest of the population. Usually in today's merengue dancing women wear bright colored dress or skirt and the men just match their partner.


The original musical ensembles that performed the merengue consisted of a guitar or cuatro, guiro scraper, double-headed tambora drum, and marimba. The marimba used for merengue was very different from the marimba we think of today. It is not xylophonic in nature, but instead is a wooden box with plucked metal keys. It is a very large instrument and has a very deep sound, acting much like the bass we use in todays music.

Los Hermanos Rosario- la duena del swing

Characteristics

The main instruments in Merengue is the:


  • Tambora
  • Accordion
  • Guira
  • Saxophone
  • Marimba

Some social events the music and dance is practiced is:

  • Parties
  • Festivals
  • Local clubs
Some Famous Artists That Sing Merengue are:

  • Juan Luis Guerra
  • Wilfrido Vargas
  • Sergio Vargas
  • Milly Quezada

My Favorite Merengue Singers: Los Hermanos Rosario