During your stay at the all inclusive Barceló Bavaro Grand Resort, get into the infectious rhythm of Dominican music, from merengue to bachata and beyond. The diverse sound of the DR is as good as it gets. Here’s what you need to know.
Dominican Music Styles
- Merengue Music: Merengue has formed part of the backbone of Dominican music and dance since the mid-19th century – but in the 1930s it transformed into the dominant genre on the island (and has since spread throughout Latin and North America). Merengue is, first and foremost, dance music, played with a sprightly 2/4 beat that gets bodies moving, guaranteed. Classic arrangements usually feature accordion, a tambura drum, and the güira, a percussion instrument similar to a maraca. More modern styles incorporate guitars and big bands.
- Bachata Music: A heady blend of African, Caribbean and European styles, Bachata music emerged in the mid-20th century. In some ways, it’s the Dominican Republic’s version of the blues, with lyrics that reflect the hardships and joys of common people. Bachata features sinuous guitar lines, buoyant percussion and dramatic vocals. Over the past several decades, it has become the dominant genre in Dominican music. It’s also the basis for an accompanying Dominican dance style, which features a Cuban-style three-step, followed by a tap on the fourth beat.
- Dembow Music: Dembow shows how Dominican music continues to innovate and grow. The genre arose in the 1990s, drawing on the sounds of Hip Hop coming in from the U.S. and Reggaeton from Puerto Rico. Dembow music is powerful, repetitive and catchy, with lyrics that deal with real-life subject matter. When you go to a modern-day Dominican Republic nightclub these days, DJs favor the beats of Dembow.
Dominican Music Artists, Past & Present
Check out some of Dominican music’s biggest names and listen to some Dominican Republic hits!
- Juan Luis Guerra brought Merengue music and Bachata music to the masses. The Dominican-born singer, songwriter and producer has sold over 30 million records worldwide and won dozens of Grammys. A masterful vocalist, instrumentalist and performer, Guerra’s music is irresistible. For an example of his style, check out this live version of “Bachata Rose.”
- Milly Quezada is rightly known as “the Queen of Merengue.” For decades, she’s been bringing joy to audiences with her expert vocals and inimitable stage presence. Born in Santo Domingo, she’s beloved throughout the Dominican Republic and beyond. Take a listen to her recent collaboration with the DR band Ilegales, the effortlessly catchy “De Colores.”
- Rita Indiana’s music shows how Merengue isn’t stuck in the past – Dominican music in 2018 is a growing, progressive thing with plenty of surprises. She adds innovative elements like alternative rock and electronica to the mix, creating a futuristic hybrid that’s as thought-provoking as it is fun to listen to. Check out Rita’s powerful new video for “El Castigador.”
- A true Dominican Republic icon, Johnny Ventura is one of the country’s most reliable presences in Latin American music – he’s been making records and performing his singular Salsa/Merengue blend since the 1950s. When you hear Ventura sing, you’re hearing the heart and soul of Dominican music. Don’t miss his hit “El Turun Tun Tun.”
While you’re exploring the Dominican Republic, you’ll hear music wherever you go – don’t be afraid to dance to the island beat!