Travelling to the Caribbean coast means that you’ll be exposed to their rhythm and dances. Caribbean music is a blend of African, European and indigenous rhythmic forms, largely created by the descendants of African slaves. Today some of these musical styles are very popular away from the Caribbean. Here we will share a few of their secrets with you.
Merengue is a musical dance and musical form that is very popular in the Dominican Republic. It is the offspring of two original dances (calenda and chicha) brought from Africa by slaves. Merengue is purported to have originated in the Caribbean in the early 19th century. It was originally accompanied by string instruments, but the introduction of the accordion around 1840 gave this musical style the boost it needed. Moralists were intent on forbidding it because of the erotic dance, the daring lyrics and its links with African music—they did not succeed and the rhythm was able to spread and become popular. Well into the 20th century the higher classes finally accepted it, and so it became a national dance. There are several types of merengue: cibaeño, apambichao, coeño. It is a rapid, fresh dance, with plenty of satire and gaiety in the lyrics. The merengue rhythm consists of an extremely rapid binary meter, where the dance is formed by taking two steps to the side and it is made up by three parts: paseo, merengue and jaleo.
Bachata also originated in the Dominican Republic. The word bachata traces its origin back to Africa and was used to designate festive social reunions with a lot of noisy fun involved. In the early days at these reunions romantic guitar music was played, which varied towards rhythmic boleros influenced by styles such as the Cuban son and merengue, and maracas were set aside and replaced by more guitars. In the 1960s and 70s this music was for the needy classes but it eventually came to be pleasing to all, becoming what we know today. Its main features are the romantic lyrics, the rhythm and the seduction involved in the sensual dance. The rhythm is slower than that of merengue, in a 4 by 4 meter. It consists of simple steps causing a swaying movement, either back and forth or side to side.
The name salsa was coined as a trade name back in the 1960s in New York and was applied to a variety of different rhythms. What we know as salsa today originated in Afro-Cuban music, specifically in rhythmic forms such as son, mambo, danzón, cha-cha-cha, guaracha, guaguancó and others. Salsa spread towards the end of the 1970s and continues to do so today, after including new instruments, new methods and new musical forms. Today, besides percussion the instruments used include the piano, double bass, trumpets, saxophones, trombones, flute and violin.
Today salsa has gone beyond social and geographic frontiers thanks to its talented musicians and the rhythmic wealth that is displayed.
You’ll have to travel to the Caribbean to savor the rhythm of these dances. Music is experienced with passion in every corner and at every location.
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