Metronome Online is proud to present Rhythm Through Diversity, a new initiative where we explore rhythm and time in music through different cultures of the world. Music is closely tied to the development of cultural etiquette, history, and background of people in diverse communities. There is a multitude of rhythms and styles of music worldwide, as much as there is a multitude of cultures everywhere. Gear up for our weekly trivia, as we travel globally, and stay tuned for an exciting announcement of masterclass content with world-renowned teachers!

Today we travel to the Dominican Republic as we explore the style of Merengue. Merengue is a style of music and dance that has become a popular genre throughout Latin America and is on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of Unesco. It was first mentioned in the 19th century with the earliest documented evidence being newspaper articles. Merengue was originally played with European stringed instruments (bandurria and guitar), while years later the accordion replaced the string instruments along with the güira and the tambora, crafting the making of a typical merengue ensemble.

The typical signature rhythm figure of merengue is the ‘quintillo’.

The ‘Merengues’ are fast-paced songs with a 2/4 beat pattern. The typical signature rhythm figure of merengue is the ‘quintillo’, which consists of a syncopated motive whose pattern is made of five successive drumhead hits at the transition between each second and third beat, alternating the timbre with the hand and the stick. To purists, the ‘quintillo’ is an essential building block of a merengue, even though this has been less strict recently.

In the Dominican Republic, we can find three kinds of Merengues. The Merengue típico, usually named perico ripiao, is the oldest one of the three. The other two types are merengue de orquesta, played with a bigger band and merengue de guitarra, played on a guitar.

Words can say a thousand things, but music can say that and more. Let’s listen to a street performance of El Perico Ripiao as performed by local musicians. Enjoy!