Venezuelan Merengue and Soloist Song

Course: Palm mute strum or Frenado for the Cuatro

Picture of TuCuatro


Most people love Merengue. This is a Latin American delight, great to listen to, wonderful to dance and enjoy. With artists from around the world and inspiring countless musicians, the music has taken off and has even had versions of hip-hop with groups such as Proyecto Uno and Sandy u0026amp; Papo (for those of you who love the classics and if you don’t definitely check them out on YouTube). The Merengue we will be looking at is slightly different, this is just to get expectations straight. Still, a flowing and fantastic genre, take a look at the following two videos, one of them is an interpretation of the song El Norte Es Quimera by a band and the other a soloist version on the Cuatro:

El Norte Es Quimera – Los Cañoneros

This is a soloist song of the Norte Es Una Quimera. We will be studying how to conduct soloist songs through different methods. This instance we will describe how to play the song in a Soloist version using a number and modular system. This system splits the song played in several Modules which collectively form the song. The recommendation is to study and familiarize yourself with each module until you have perfected them. Then, once you have been able to do so, you will be able to play them all together and execute the song with no problem.

The numbers start off with the A string from the Left and move all the way to the B string on the right.

In other words, is equivalent to ADF#B….the standard tuning for the Cuatro.

Each number refers to the fret where the string should be played, as the previous one is referring to the positions as a 0, then this indicates an open string.

If we take a look at the first chord being, this is ADF#C which is the D7 chord in its first position or as follows:


Keep this in mind when playing, and by following the modules, you will be playing this song in no time. Later on, we will add some chords, but this is a format that is highly effective and easy to use.

El Norte Es Una Quimera – Cuatro Soloist


Great stuff! Not to worry, as you progress we will come back to this song and help you learn how to play it on your Cuatro! Just like other genres if follows a specific rhythm and the merengue we will be looking into is the Merengue Venezolano or Venezuelan Merengue. This rhythm is composed of keeping the following pattern:

Rhythm: Venezuelan Merengue


The pattern is as follows:

  1. Downward Frenado
  2. Upward Strum
  3. Downward Strum
  4. Ascending Frenado
  5. Downward Strum

The complication with this rhythm is the fact that you start with a downward motion and you also end it with a downward motion. Regardless of whether this is a frenado or a regular strum, it is rather unnatural when considering an ordered group of motions. We are typically used to strumming in a continuous up – down – up – down way and here we are beginning to break the pattern. It is very important to practice this individually, so if you are still working on another rhythm, be sure to round that off prior to moving into this because of the confusion. Once you have mastered the genres you are looking at, then you will find that it is easy to switch from one to another. Take a look at the video below on how to play the Venezuelan Merengue, remember, this is something that you can practice with the progression of I – IV – V of any of the notes that we have seen, for example, you can try it with the E major tonic, dominant and subdominant.

Venezuelan Merengue

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