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 this painting by José Morello, 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

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