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Cultural origins Dominican Republic
Typical instruments Requinto/Bachata guitar, electric bass guitar, güira, Bongo Drums
Bachata Urbana
Fusion genres
Regional scenes
Dominican Republic, Cuba , Colombia , Puerto Rico, United States, El Salvador, Honduras
Other topics

Bachata is a genre of music that originated in the countryside and the rural neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic. Its subjects are often romantic; especially prevalent are tales of heartbreak and sadness. In fact, the original term used to name the genre was amargue ("bitterness," or "bitter music"), until the rather ambiguous (and mood-neutral) term bachata became popular. The form of dance, Bachata, also developed with the music.[1]



Bachata originates from the Dominican Republic with mixed boleros with traditional latin/carribean rythmes together including bachata rythmes and is a guitar based music which recently evolved from bolero. During much of its history Bachata music was denigrated by Dominican society and associated with rural backwardness and delinquency. In the 1990s, bachata's instrumentation changed from acoustic Spanish guitar to electric steel string. The new electric bachata soon became an international phenomenon, and today bachata is as popular as salsa and merengue in some Latin American dancehalls. ,.l,


The typical bachata group consists of five instruments: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, electric bass guitar, bongos and güira. Bachata groups mostly play an evolved style of bolero (lead guitar instrumentation using arpeggiated chords is a distinctive characteristic of bachata), but when they instead play merengue based bachata, the percussionist will switch from bongo to a tambora drum. In the 1960s and 70s, maracas were used instead of guira. The change in the 1980s from maracas to the more versatile guira was made as bachata was becoming more dance oriented.[1]


Bachata was first recorded immediately after the demise of Trujillo whose 30 year dictatorship was accompanied by censorship. José Manuel Calderón is credited as having recorded the first bachata singles: (“Borracho de amor” and “Que será de mi (Condena)”) released on 45rpm in 1961. After Trujillo's death, the floodgates were opened: following on the heels of Calderon's historic bachata debut came more recordings by the likes of Rafael Encarnacion, Ramoncito Cabrera El Chivo Sin Ley,Corey Perro, Antonio Gómez Salcero, Luis Segura, Ramón Cordero and many more. The 1960s saw the birth of the Dominican music industry and of the bachata music which would dominate it.

While the bachatas being recorded in the 1960s had a distinctly Dominican flavor, they were regarded at the time as a variant of bolero. The term 'bachata' had in fact not yet come into use. Bachata, which originally was a term used to describe an informal rustic party, was a label first applied to the music by those seeking to disparage it. The higher echelons of Dominican Society felt that bachata music was an expression of cultural backwardness, and a campaign ensued to brand bachata in this negative light.[2]

The 1970s were dark years for bachata. The music was seldom played on the radio, and almost unmentioned on television and in print. Bachateros were also barred from performing in high society venues - having to content themselves instead with gigs in bars and brothels in the country's poorest neighborhoods. The music was impacted by its surroundings; sex, despair and crime were amongst numerous topics the genre highlighted. This, of course, only furthered the cause of those seeking to tar bachata as a music of the barrios. Despite its unofficial censorship, bachata remained widely popular; while orchestral merengue benefited from the country's major publicity outlets. However, bachata continued to outsell merengue. Some Bachateros to emerge from this era were Marino Perez, and Leonardo Paniagua.

By the early 1980s bachata's popularity could not be denied. Caving to popular demand, more radio stations began playing bachata, and bachateros soon found themselves performing on television as well. Bachata in the mean time had begun to take on a more dance-hall sound: tempos increased, guitar playing became punchier, and call and response singing more prevalent. Bachata style merengues, or guitar merengues, also became an increasingly important part of the bachata repertoire. Blas Durán was the first to record with electric guitar in his 1987 bachata-merengue hit, "Mujeres hembras".[2]

By the early 1990s, the sound was further modernized and the bachata scene was dominated by two new young stars: Luis Vargas and Antony Santos. Both incorporated a large number of bachata-merengues in their repertoires. Santos, Vargas and the many new style bachateros who would follow achieved a level of stardom which was unimaginable to the bachateros who preceded them. They were the first generation of pop bachata artists and received all the hype and image branding typical of commercial pop music elsewhere. It was also at this time that bachata began to emerge internationally as a music of Hispanic dance-halls.

Juan Luis Guerra's Grammy winning 1992 release, Bachata Rosa, is routinely credited with making the genre more acceptable and helping bachata achieve legitimacy and international recognition. Surprisingly , although he used the word bachata in the album title, none of the songs reflected the indistinguishable bachata sound. [3]

Aventura, based in New York City, is today the best known bachata group. Their 2002 single "Obsesión" dominated airwaves in Latin America countries, the US Hispanic market, and Caribbean Spanish speaking Islands. Domenic Marte is a stateside bachata singer, songwriter, and producer with a light pop touch who made his solo debut in 2004 on Sony Discos and who has a number of tropical airplay hits to his credit. Based in Massachusetts and of Dominican heritage, Marte released his full-length album debut, Intimamente, in 2004 under the abbreviated name Domenic M (he would use his full name thereafter). The album spawned a series of hits, beginning with "Ven Tu," a Top Ten hit on Billboard's Latin Tropical Airplay chart; follow-up singles "Ella Se Llevo Mi Vida" and "La Quiero" also registered on the tropical airplay chart, going Top 20 and Top 40, respectively. Around the same time, Marte was featured on a couple songs on fellow Massachusetts singer Bylli Crayone's 2005 self-titled album, most notably the song "Toyfriend." In 2007 Marte released his second album, Deseos de Amarte, which, similar to its predecessor, spawned a Top Ten tropical airplay hit in the title track and a modest follow-up hit, "Con los Ojos Cerrados." ~ Jason Birchmeier, All Music Guide Other popular modern artists include Raulin Rodriguez, Zacarias Ferreira, Frank Reyes, El Chaval, Monchy y Alexandra, Andy Andy, Elvis Martinez, Joe Veras and Luis Vargas. x3


Notable Artists


Modern Bachata artists

Classic Bachata artists

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b Pacini Hernandez, Deborah. "Brief history of Bachata", Bachata, A social history of a Dominican popular music, 1995, Temple University Press. Retrieved on 2008-12-04
  2. ^ a b Pacini Hernandez, Deborah. Bachata, A social history of a Dominican popular music, 1995, Temple University Press. Retrieved on 2008-12-04
  3. ^ iASO Records, David Wayne. "Juan Luis Guerra Biography", Juan Luis Guerra Biography, 2008, iASO Records.

External links


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