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Around The World - Merengue

by Sinisa Cekic

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  • Hi GMC'ers! Our journey continues, the next station - the Dominican Republic. Merengue is a Caribbean dance and music style in 2/4 time. Usually associated with the Dominican Republic both because of the huge international popularity of Dominican merengue and because of the increased visibility of Dominican immigrants in the United States. Other types of merengue were also developed in Haiti, Colombia, and Venezuela in the 19th century. Today it is considered the national music of the Dominican Republic.

    "It is popular in the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America. Its name is Spanish, taken from the name of the meringue, a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar. It is unclear as to why this name became the name of the music; perhaps it can trace its meaning from the movement on the dance floor that could remind one of an egg beater in action.

    Merengues are fast arrangements with a 2/4 beat. The traditional instrumentation for a conjunto típico (traditional band), the usual performing group of folk merengue, is a dianotic accordion, a two–sided drum, called a tambora, held on the lap, and a guira. A güira is a percussion instrument that sounds like a maraca. It is a sheet of metal with small bumps on it (created with hammer and nail), shaped into a cylinder, and played with a stiff brush. The güira is brushed steadily on the downbeat with a "and-a" thrown in at certain points, or played in more complex patterns that generally mark the time. Caballitosyncopation and on the other side with the palm of the hand. rhythm, or a quarter and two eighths, is also common. The double headed drum is played on one side with a stick."(Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia)

    Merengue songs are generally composed in two parts. The first section is rhythmically straightforward and is used to introduce the song's melodic and lyrical material; here, verses are sung and the only improvisation heard occurs at the end of song lines, when the accordion or saxophone fills in. The second section is dominated by improvisation, more complex rhythms, and hard-driving mambo, or the part of the song where melody instruments (sax and accordion) unite to play catchy, syncopated riffs or jaleos which help motivate and stimulate dancers.

    Measure:
    2/4

    Tempo:
    120bpm

    Chord Progression:
    Am - E7 (several of their variations)

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    Enjoy! Sinisa

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