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Music of the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is known primarily for merengue, though bachata[?] and other forms are also popular. Dominican music has always been closely intertwined with its neighbor, Haiti (see Music of Haiti).

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Bachata The bachata evolved from bolero[?], a form native to Cuba, and is a somewhat slower, more guitar-oriented music. Gagá Gagá[?] is a form of music that developed in parallel with Haitian rara[?]. It evolved on plantations and is often spiritual, used during baptisms and other religious ceremonies. Merengue Swift beats from guiro or maracas percussion sections, and wild accordion or saxophone accompaniment are characterstic. Other instruments frequently include a sax, box bass[?], tambora drum[?] or guyano[?].

The origins of merengue are disputed. It may be related to Haitian méringue[?], which is very similar except in its guitar-based sound, while merengue is dominated by the accordion. Another cousin could be UPA, a Cuban form that includes a section called a merengue and arrived in Santo Domingo in the mid-1800s, imported from Puerto Rico. Other scholars have claimed that merengue is a distinctively Dominican form, developed after the Dominican victory at Talanquera[?], and that is a fusion of Spanish decima with African plena[?] music. At the time of its development, merengue was attacked by newspapers and the upper-class, who preferred an older form of dance music called tumba[?].

Merengue continued to be limited in popularity to the lower-classes, especially in the Cibao area, in the early 20th century. Artists like Juan F. García[?], Juan Espínola[?] and Julio Alberto Hernandez[?] tried to move merengue into the mainstream, but failed, largely to risque lyrics. Some success occurred after the original form (then called merengue típico cibaeño[?]) was slowed down to accommodate American soldiers (who occupied the country from 1916-1924) and couldn't dance the difficult steps of the merengue; this mid-tempo version was called pambiche[?]. Major mainstream acceptance started with the rise of Rafel Trujillo[?] in the early 1930s.

During the reign of President Rafael Trujillo, merengue was promoted as the national form of expression for Dominicans from the 1930s until his assassination in 1961. Trujillo popularized the music, which moved to urban settings and added piano and brass instruments in large merengue orchestras. During Trujillo's reign, merengue which continued to use an accordion became known as perico ripiao (ripped parrot, for unknown reasons).

In the 1960s, a new group of artists (most famously Johnny Ventura[?]) incorporated American R&B and rock and roll influences, along with Cuban salsa music. The instrumentation changed, with accordion replaced with electric guitars or synthesizers, or occasionally sampled, and the saxophone's role totally redefined. Salve Salve[?] is a call-and-response[?] type of singing that uses panderos[?], atabales[?] and other African istruments. Salves are highly ceremonial and are used in pilgrimages and at parties dedicated to saints.

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