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A Focus on The National Symbol of the Dominican Republic

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Music, as many may know, is an important part of social life and culture. It is used as a form of communication for those that cannot find the correct words to express themselves. This paper will analyze and explore the role that music plays in understanding certain cultures. It will proceed to outline the social history of merengue music in the Dominican Republic, the relationship between merengue and and its path on becoming an important part the Dominican national identity.

Music is an important vehicle through which cultural identities, and social values are formed and negotiated. Merengue music style has developed alongside social changes, and has played an important role in highlighting the different discourses of what is considered a valid expression in the Dominican culture and identity. Merengue is held as a national symbol for what the Dominican Republic believes in.

Merengue-It’s Deep Roots

Merengue is a style of music and dance in the Dominican Republic. This music earned the name because of its light and sensual dance style, and its short and precise rhythm, which was similar to that of beating eggs white and sugar together (Arusterlitz 1997) Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico also have a danced called merengue (Ibid) However, the Dominican Republic was the country where it lasted the longest and the one where it became a national identity. That is why the Dominican Republic is usually referred to as la isla del merengue, the island of merengue.

History of Merengue

Countryside tales and stories, which have been confirmed through scholarly literatures, say that merengue originated in 1844 the year that Dominican Republic was founded. (Austerlitz 1997) The first written and recorded merengue was about a so...

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Duany, Jorge. 1985. Ethnicity, Identity, and Music: An Anthropological Analysis of the Dominican Merengue. In Béhague, Gerard. Music and Black ethnicity: the Caribbean and South America. Coral Gables, Fla.: North-South Center Press, University of Miami;, 1994.

Hutchinson, Sydney. Merengue Típico in Santiago and New York: Transnational Regionalism in a Neo-Traditional Dominican Music. Society for Ethnomusicology, University of Illinois Press,: 50, no. 1 (2006): 37-72.

Manuel, Peter. 1995. The Dominican Republic Danza and Contradanced Merengue. In Manuel, Peter. Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean. Temple University Press. 2009.

Nyvlt, Monica. Merengue and Bachata: A study of two musical styles in the Dominican Republic. Thesis at Carlton University. Ottawa, ON. 2001.
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