Venezuelan Merengue Part I: Acidito
The Merengue Venezolano is one of most important genres of Venezuelan folk music, and is considered to be a symbol of the city of Caracas. It is also one of the most elusive musical styles from Latin America due to its unique 5/8 time signature and relative obscurity anywhere outside of Venezuela. Despite its name, the Merengue from Venezuela shares no important musical characteristics with Merengue from the Dominican Republic. In fact, Venezuelan Merengue doesn’t sound like anything else in Latin America, or anywhere for that matter.
I had first heard of Venezuelan Merengue in high school while reading Oscar Stagnaro’s The Latin Bass Book, which to my knowledge was the first commercially successful bass book in English to address South American styles at all. I remember having no ability to keep track of beat one after the intro, and more or less gave up on trying to learn this style for the next fifteen years.
However, in the past year I have revisited this style and have acquired some degree of knowledge of the basic mechanics of the genre. Finally, I can now reflect on the learning experience with some degree of clarity. This first entry is a demonstration of Cecilia Todd’s rendition of Adelis Fréitez’s beautiful Merengue “Acidito” from her amazing album Una Sola Vida Tengo. I’ve provided two basic notated examples of bass patterns used in this track, played by the great David Peña respectively.
As always, this blog entry is not meant to be a complete tutorial, just a brief demonstration of a general concept. If any of these terms are unfamiliar to you, be sure to check out my book, The John Benitez Method Vol 1. If you’re interested in learning more, comment below or contact me directly if you have any questions or are interested in private lessons either online or in person. Happy practicing and see you on the next one!