Merengue is a type of music and dance originating in the Dominican Republic, which has become a very popular genre throughout Latin America, and also in several major cities in the United States with latino communities. Merengue was inscribed on November 30, 2016 in the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.
|Cultural origins||Mid-19th century, Cibao, Dominican Republic|
Merengue was developed in the middle of the 1800s, originally played with European stringed instruments (bandurria and guitar). Years later, the stringed instruments were replaced by the accordion, thus conforming, together with the güira and the tambora, the instrumental structure of the typical merengue ensemble. This set, with its three instruments, represents the synthesis of the three cultures that made up the idiosyncrasy of Dominican culture. The European influence is represented by the accordion, the African by the tambora, which is a two-head drum, and the Taino or aboriginal by the güira.
The genre was later promoted by Rafael Trujillo, the dictator from 1930 to 1961, who turned it into national music and dance style of the Dominican Republic. In the United States it was first popularized by New York–based groups and bandleaders like Rafael Petiton Guzman, beginning in the 1930s, and Angel Viloria y su Conjunto Típico Cibaeño in the 1950s. It was during the Trujillo era that the merengue "Compadre Pedro Juan", by Luis Alberti, became an international hit and standardized the 2-part form of the merengue.
Famous merengue artists and groups include Juan Luis Guerra, Wilfrido Vargas, Milly Quezada, Toño Rosario, Fernando Villalona, Los Hermanos Rosario, Bonny Cepeda, Johnny Ventura, Eddy Herrera, Sergio Vargas, Grupo Rana, Miriam Cruz, Las Chicas Del Can, Kinito Mendez, Jossie Esteban y la Patrulla 15, Pochy y su Cocoband, Cuco Valoy, Ramón Orlando, Alex Bueno, The New York Band, Elvis Crespo, Olga Tañón, Gisselle, and Grupomanía.
The popularity of merengue has been increasing in Venezuela. Venezuelan Merengueros include Roberto Antonio, Miguel Moly, Natusha, Porfi Jiménez, Billo's Caracas Boys, and Los Melodicos. Merengue is also popular in the coastal city of Guayaquil in Ecuador.
The new line of merengue created in New York City has become very popular amongst younger listeners. Known as "Merengue de Mambo," its proponents include Omega, Oro 24, Los Ficos, Los Gambinos, Alberto Flash, Mala Fe, Henry Jimenez, and Aybar.
Although the etymology of merengue can be disputed, there are a few theories about where the word might have derived from. One suggestion is that the term derives from meringue, a dish made from egg whites which is popular in Latin-American countries. The sound made by the whipping of eggs supposedly resembles the guiro used in merengue.