La India Canela Discusses Merengue Típico
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.