Merengue is a fast-paced musical genre with many styles and influences, identified by its distinctive beat and accompanying hipswaying dance. It was created in the Dominican Republic in the late 1800s from a creolized tradition of African, indigenous Taino, and Spanish peoples. In the Dominican Republic, merengue maintained a regional diversity, with variations in style, use of instruments, and lyrical content, until 1931 when the dictator Rafael Trujillo took power and adopted merengue from the region of Cibao as the national music.
Merengue cibaeño was taken to New York by emigrating Dominicans in the 1960s. In the United States, merengue has been influenced by a variety of other musical genres, such as rock-and-roll, as well as other Latin American music. Contemporary merengue is typically lively and animated, playing constant variations of a theme in major mode. Its fast dance tempo is an innovation of artists in the 1960s, when rock-and-roll influenced a number of Latin American musical genres.
Austerlitz, Paul. Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997.