Merengue originated in the Dominican Republic the first half of the twentieth century. It is known for its intricate rhythms and very fast tempi. Whilst this can make it challenging to learn, there are some simple tricks that can quickly help you to play a Merengue style riff.
Start by practising these chords on the piano, each hand alone to start if needed. Notice the frequent use of octaves in the right hand, an important attribute of this style.
Now we start to spice up the rhythm. The left hand plays off-the beat. If you have mastered the chords this should be quite easy.
Now try adding this extra rhythm in the left hand.
Still not sounding Latin enough? Try playing the pattern from step 3 with this drum backing-track, slowly to start:
i.e. the idea is to take the pattern in step three and practise it with a backing track, slowly in step 4, faster in step 5 and even faster in step 6. This gives the Latin feel.
Now try it a bit faster:
Really the sky is the limit speed-wise with Merengue. Once more, a bit faster:
Now we’ve got this pattern we can try to be a bit more inventive. Here's another common Merengue-style pattern.
Practise it slowly at first before trying it with the drum backings in steps 4, 5 and 6.
Now let’s really have some fun by using our pattern over an extended chord sequence:
And here, for the really adventurous, is something with a bit more chromatic flavour: