Lemon Merengue

Merengue Drum Beat


Merengue (ma-ren-gai) is the style of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. The music is often played very fast; however, the dance style is usually slower and more majestic. Learn how to play a Merengue drum beat below.

Let's Merengue!

The following Merengue patterns for drum kit are based on the kind of rhythm that would normally be played on the Tambora drum. At the end of each pattern there is a sequence of quavers (or rhythmic cell) called the Cinquillo. This is used to define where the clave rhythm begins. In addition, the stepped hi-hat takes on the role of the Güiro

In the painting above, a drummer can be seen playing the tambora. The drum is laid across the drummer’s lap and is played with a stick at one end and the hand at the other. Behind him stands another character playing the Güiro. 

Drum Legend


Firstly, let’s all thank Bobby Sanabria for his enthusiasm, singing and sharing these patterns with the world! At the beginning of the video, Bobby plays the Merengue drum beat at a quick tempo and it sounds dazzling. Fortunately, he plays it again at a much slower tempo at 6’06”, and this is how I was able to transcribe the patterns below. 

1. In this pattern, I have included the 3/2 clave pattern so you can see how it relates to the drum kit part. Notice the splashed hi-hats on the beats 2. The cross stick and first tom are played with the left hand. 


2. At 6’58”, Bobby doubles the hi-hat pattern in order to give it “more forward motion”. To achieve this, he uses heal/toe technique.


3. Next, at 7’10”, Bobby returns to the original pattern, only to change the bass drum so that it plays on 2 +. 

Merengue bass drum

4. The bass drum is then changed a further time at 7’25”, again to give the pattern “more forward motion”. On this occasion it plays the 3 rhythm of the clave. 

5. Then, as if to blow your mind, at 7’36” Bobby doubles up the hi-hat again. (If mastering this doesn’t keep you busy, I don’t know what will!). 

Merengue hi-hat double

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to comment below! x

6 thoughts on “Merengue Drum Beat”

  1. Great post! I do want to point out that the Dominican instrument used in merengue is called a Güira. The similar Güiro is made out of wood and is more popular in Puerto Rican and Cuban rhythms such as Salsa, Son, Guaguanco, etc.

    Again, great post!

  2. Carlos Wagner Nunes

    Hello, there.
    You have got a nice site with great hints for the ones who are seeking for progress and knowledge.
    Keeep the great job.
    Greetings from Brazil.
    Carlos Wagner Nunes

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