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La India Canela Discusses Merengue Típico

Merengue is widely recognized as the national music and dance of the Dominican Republic, and one of the country's most important exports, but it is not a single, unified genre. The traditional style called merengue típico is so important to daily life in the northern Cibao region and among cabaeños abroad that musicians describe it as "soul food" and even, metaphorically, as "family." Típico sounds quite different from the big-band merengue more commonly heard abroad. It is centered on the accordion (rather than wind instruments), percussion plays a key role, and improvisation is central, while big bands rely on written arrangements. La India Canela, leader of a merengue típico band, discusses how modern influences are changing the traditional sound.