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Dominican Republic: A unique and endless destination throughout the world.

Our Music

Our Music

merengue

Of all the rhythms that have enriched our cultural heritage, the merengue is, par excellence, the collective expression of our people's very soul. As a popular musical form, it is very dynamic and varies from one generation to the next.

Generally sung in our vernacular, we love to move to the thump and beat of this music which, according to the lyrics of a carnival song, pulsates in our every being the urge to: "...dance in the street by day, dance in the street by night." Merengue is the sum total of the harmonious interplay of güira, the tambora (small drum), and the accordion.

Just as in the 19th century, Lanner and Strauss took the waltz from local taverns to the great dance halls and the imperial Austrian theaters, the Dominican merengue has been interpreted by national and foreigndance bands and symphonic orchestras, thanks to the works of important Dominican composers of yesterday and today: Julio Alberto Hernández, Juan Francisco García, José Dolores Cerón, Luis Alberti, Rafael Solano y Bienvenido Bustamante, among others, who have also cultivated the traditional musical forms. Others are: Enrique de Marchena, Luis Mena, Francisco Ignacio, Ramón Díaz, Manuel Simó, Juan Luis Guerra, Michael Camilo y José Antonio Molina.

danceDominicans love to dance. Father Labat, a French monk who arrived in the capital city in 1795 when Spain ceded the island to France by the Treaty of Basle, made the following profound observation: "Dance is, in Santo Domingo, the favorite passion, and I don't believe that there is anywhere in the world where a people are more drawn to musical vibrations." Labat's observation is very apt. Singing is probably the only phenomenon which can rival dancing as food for the Dominican's soul.

To this day, it is customary to sing lullabies to infants before they fall asleep. The child grows up amidst singing games, and the practice of singing before work continues well past this age. Adolescents in the countryside sing tunes and "cantos de hacha" (axe songs) in the "conuco" (small farm). He chants his prayers and expresses his love in cadence rhythms. No wonder serenading is so popular! And, when a child dies in rural areas, mourners sing dirges called the "baquini".

The bachata, a musical genre whose sounds remind us of the Cuban son-boleros and of Puerto Rican dance, has firmly introduced itself into the taste and idiosyncrasy of the Dominican people. Also known as the "music of anguish and love scorned", this genre enjoys huge popularity abroad and is considered a true representation of the people of the rural areas of the Dominican Republic, as well as the sound of popular "fiestas".

Tip•

guiraytamboraThe güira is a typical Dominican instrument that consists of agrater made of latten brass in the shape of a hollow cylinder that, when scratched with a scraper, emits a buzzing rhythmic sound. Our indigenous Indian population used it in the areíto, (Indian ceremonial song and dance). They made it from the attractive fruit of the gourd, from which they extracted the pulp and then scraped it, to later rhythmically rasp it with a forked stick. There still are pericos ripiaos that use this type of güira.

The perico ripiao, a minstrel trio, interprets various popular musical forms in the rural environment. The Dominican tambora (small drum) owes its peculiar sound to having on one side, the hide of an old male goat, tempered with native rum and, on the other, that of a young female goat that has not given birth.

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