The Dominican Republic
is known for many rich cultural things and now you can add to them
Bachata music. Until 10 years ago bachata music was a relatively unknown
genre of music only heard on the streets of the Dominican Republic. The
truth is that those who love and created the style of Bachata music have
been playing it for over 40 years.
The Evolution of Bachata Music
There is a long evolution period for Bachata music. It first began to
take root in Santo Domingo and was performed in bars and areas not know
for the moral high ground. Music in the Dominican Republic was repressed
and controlled by the ruling dictator Rafael Trujillo and his family.
With his death in 1961 many of the musicians that were not allowed to
express themselves before headed for the capital to record their music.
At this point and time bachata music was called "bolero campesino".
Bachata is actually a word that refers to an impromptu party where
music, most notably guitar music, is played. It took many years for the
word to actually mean a specific genre of music. The musician who first
took advantage of the musical freedom created by the death of the
dictator was José Manuel Calderón. His claim to fame is that he recorded
the first Bachata music single. The songs on the record were "Borracho
de amor" and "Que Será de mi (Condena)."
When Calderón recorded his first record the Bachata style was still
evolving. It was still sounding like bolero and had very few
distinctions between the music found in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and
Ecuador. Through the advancement of technology Bachata music began to
have a unique sound all its own. Musicians began to use either electric
or acoustic guitars. They would then alter the sound by using any
combination of echo, reverb, or flanger techniques.
Bachata music has many different types of rhythms that derive from
different types of music such as the blues and meringue. The roots of
Bachata music however is they style of music referred to as bolero. This
is a very traditional type of music in the Latin culture and is romantic
in nature. The inspiration for the music are generally topics that have
to do with the emotions of love ranging from lost love and being
deceived by love. It correlates very well to the blues as most of the
songs deal with heavy emotions.
The sound of Bachata music now incorporates the electric guitar and an
additional guitar called a segunda or rhythmic guitar. The rest of the
instruments used include a bass guitar and a güira to help give the
rhythm of the music a good base. Then to give the music an even more
clear percussion base a bongo drum is thrown in the mix.
The Love of Bachata Music is Spreading
Bachata music has spread throughout the Latin world and is now gaining
popularity in America. Some give credit to the rising popularity to the
Grammy winning release in 1992 by Juan Luis Guerra called Bachata Rosa.
As the Bachata music genre is gain popularity one of the most notable
rising stars is the rock band Aventura. They are the most highly
recognized bachata music group in the United States and have fans as far
away as Sweden. Aventura is taking the Bachata music to the
international community but back in the Dominican there are two artists
that are even more popular. They are Antony Santos and Luis Vargas.
Others that are now beginning to make a name for themselves on the
Bachata music scene include, Xtreme, Joe Veras, Elvis Martinez, and
Frank Reyes. Bachata music is an evolving genre of music as many
musicians are finding that you can incorporate many different styles of
music with it like vallenato and R&B very successfully.
Bachata Music even has its own Dance
Though it is a little difficult to describe the dance it is very easy to
learn and execute. It really entails a few easy steps that ends up
producing a back and forth motion with a lot of hip action. The dance
works beautifully with the rhythm and timing of the music. It is a very
sensual dance and tends to become quite risqué with couples that are
very comfortable with each other.
Bachata music is beginning to be recognized worldwide. It has all the
rhythm and feel of the rich Latin culture found in the Dominican
Republic and if you love the soulfulness of the blues with the beat of
the merengue then you will love bachata music.