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The Elements Of Bachata Music

Música de guitarra, or guitar music, is not just a bunch of hombres singing and playing guitar for senoritas to dance to: it is a distinct musical genre and
varies per country. In the Dominican Republic, in usually informal gatherings in the barrios, the bachata is played. Originated by servants amusing
themselves after work, they played whatever noisemakers they could find in their rear quarters, which included trashcans. As the music evolved, they
eventually used actual musical instruments, such as guitars, sometimes played by a trio or a quartet, and percussion instruments. The most
recognizable percussion instrument used to play bachata is the güira, a serrated tube made out of tin and played by scraping a stick across the
punctured edges.

The bachata is said to have come into existence in the 1960s, with the first bachata recorded by José Manuel Calderón, though it must have existed even
earlier, as staple music for these rural parties. The word "bachata" actually means "party," and was initially music for serenading, though it later became
dance music as well. Based on the Cuban bolero, the bachata is in 4/4 time and also sounds similar to the boleros of Puerto Rico and Ecuador, but with
elements of other styles of music, such as the Mexican corridos and rancheros, the Cuban son, guajira and guaracha, the Colombian vals, and another
Dominican form, the merengue.

Due to the environment it was developed in, the bachata was dismissed as poor man's music, eventually associated with rogues, libertines and
prostitutes, enjoyed only by the coarse and vulgar lower classes of the Dominican Republic's culture. Although some opine that this was unfortunate for
the musical form, others believe that the songs of the bachata are the honest expressions of a struggling nation coming to terms with its social and
economic situations.

However, such was the stigma of the bachata that there was only one radio station that would willingly play it. Also, unlike other local musical styles that
gained mainstream popularity, bachata musicians had to work harder to record and sell their music, which was especially difficult as listeners of the
bachata were regarded as low class, violent and vulgar as well. These struggling bachateros included Eladio Romero Santos, Ramon Cordero, Edilio
Paredes, Luis Segura, and Rafael Encarnación. Bachata's popularity only slightly changed when bachatero Blas Durán recorded the bachata with an
electric guitar in 1987. Sparking a wide interest in the new bachata sound, bachateros started to record bachatas with more romantic themes, and
therefore making the formerly stigmatized form more acceptable.

Modern bachata is now recognizable by its more rhythmic groove, the execution of the flanger, reverb and echo effects of the electric guitar, usually a
combination of all three, and the common use of the arpeggio in the song's melody. The most famous of today's bachateros are Antony Santos and Luis
Vargas. Juan Luis Guerra won a Grammy award in 1992 for his album Bachata Rosa, although many disclaim that his songs are actual bachatas. The
bachata gained international recognition instead in 2006 when the bachata group Aventura hit it big with their "Obsesion" receiving heavy airplay in Latin
America, Latino US radio and in some European countries.