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Origines of Bachata
What is Bachata?

What is Bachata?

Bachata history

The meaning of words can also change across time and place and this is certainly the case when we look at the word “Bachata” (Bachata history).

Most of those familiar with the word “bachata” know it as a popular musical genre and dance form native to the Dominican Republic(DR). However, before it came to be used to refer to a genre of music it meant a “fiesta del patio” or an informal gathering of friends and neighbors where music was played and drink was often served. It was not until the early 1970’s in the Dominican Republic that bachata came to describe a musical genre. It was first used as an insult, a disparaging term that impliee that the music and the people that listened to it were from a “lower” class, uneducated, crude, vulgar, and immoral.

It was a “fiesta del patio” and gathering of friends and neighbors where music was played, and fun and drink were had. It could take place on a patio, in a house, on a corner, under a tree or a variety of other sites. The music played was often guitar music such as boleros.
A bachata would not be the type of gathering one of the “upper” class would have, and to them it meant a party for the “lower” class where too much rum was drunk, roosters were fought, and people were involved in immoral and socially non-constructive behavior.
Somewhere along the way, probably sometime in the early 70’s the word “bachata” came to be used to describe a genre of music, that at the time in the DR was referred to as bolero or musica de guitarra.

“What is Bachata at the begining? Bachata was not welcomed

Regardless, we can say that as the term came to describe a genre of music it had a negative connotation. Bachata musicians were not given the respect they deserved. Many of the early bolero musicians did not at first accept this classification as bachatero and many today still describe their early bachatas played on requinto as bolero. In those days bachata lovers often listened to it in secret so that their neighbors would not hear it and gossip about them later. This discrimination persisted a long time a still persists to a degree. Joan Soriano tells a story, (and this must have been in the 90’s) when someone asked him what he did for a living. He said he was a musician and played bachata. The man replied “oh man, I thought you said you were a musician!” Insulting him.

During the early 70’s bachata was also know as “musica del guardia” or “soldier music.” This is because it was associated with brothels and prostitution, and soldiers often frequent those places. So in addition to being associated with the lower economic classes bachata also came to be associated with brothels, prostitution, drinking, and vulgar lyrics.

The Discrimination against bachata was mainly taking place within its country of origin, The Dominican Republic and those that loved bachata around the world remained largely oblivious that bachata had this bad reputation in its home country.It has taken decades to take the word bachata with all its negative associations, to today, where the word has been largely reclaimed and now has a positive meaning. Today musicians are proud to say that they record bachata. merengue and other latin singers record it also. There is a lot of money in it now and this has played a big part in it being more widely accepted. It is much more common to see people of all classes listen to it now. Again the discrimination still exists but it is less. It has gained international appeal and most that listen to or dance it outside of the DR are unaware that the word had a negative meaning.

What is Bachata in the contemporary period?

Bachata history: Internationalization of Bachata

The change has to do with the internationalization of bachata and its acceptance worldwide. This began with musicians such as Leonardo Paniagua who toured widely and spread the music. Later, Juan Luis Guerra, A Dominican born, Berklee educated musician made bachata widely know and accepted with his album “Bachata Rosa.” Juan Luis Guerra is a master of music although he is not regarded among bachata musicians as a true bachatero. He did however play an important part in internationalizing the word and music because of his wide appeal and great songs and lyrics. Others such as Monchy and Alexandra, Blas Duran, Antony Santos and of course Aventura and Xtreme played huge roles in introducing the music to the world. Dominican Migration around the world also spread the music as did the increase of tourism to the DR in the 80’s.

What is Bachata?

In the 1990s of Bachata history, this was the time of particular changes in the music itself. The common use of electric guitar became first notable modification. Furthermore, many middle-class Dominican musicians became interested in Bachata recordings and performances. They mark their personal aesthetics on the music which was previously considered underclass genre.Therefore, social perception of this music style also changed. People no longer defined Bachata music as entertainment for lower classes. Even though more artists used the new instrument for Bachata ensemble. Yet, its characteristic features such as guitar-led ensemble with guitar rhythms remained the same.

What is Bachata?

The new wave of artists has transformed Bachata aesthetics in the late 1980s and 1990s. They are also the reasons for Bachata international popularity. “Tecno-Bachateros”, as they are recognized, enriched standard sound with synthesizers. They established a whole new and advanced arrangements. Even though the music stylistic had changed significantly, characteristic features of Dominican sound remained. Therefore it is still known as Bachata.

Among one of the most prominent Bachateros, it is necessary to mention Juan Louis Guerra. He gained international fame and received the Grammy Award for the album “Bachata Rosa” in 1992.

Bachata history: the Women of Bachata

Bachata’s most common theme is that of love between woman and man. Despite this, the female voice has been conspicuously absent from bachata’s repertoire. Even in recent years, as bachata developed an ardent following among young Latina women, the genre has remained dominated by male singers, producers and musicians. In this respect, bachata is an anomaly . Other Latin American styles, like Colombian carrilera and Mexican cumbia sonidera, which shared a similarly notorious association with bar and brothel culture, count numerous female artists among their most important performers.
Well-known bachateras, after fifty years of bachata’s history, can be counted on one hand. The earliest, and perhaps the most interesting of these women as far as the content of her music, was Melida Rodriguez. Rodriguez was followed by Aridia Ventura, who was the only significant female voice in bachata during the 1970s and 1980s

Carmen Francisco, a singer from the capital city of Santo Domingo, became known only for her satirical replies to the boastful songs of bachatero Marino Perez. Eladio Romero Santos’ sister, Leonida Alejo, had a couple of hits in a short career; Aventura’s breakthrough song “Obsesion”, in 2001, featured a female R&B style vocal which drove the song’s popularity; and of course Alexandra Cabrera, the female side of the duo Monchy y Alexandra, has been one of bachata’s most celebrated interpreters. Compared to the hundreds of male bachateros who have had one or many hit songs over the years, the small number of women involved in the making of the music is notable; especially given the growth of bachata’s female audience since the introduction of the electric guitar in 1991 and following the success of Aventura in 2001. See more about Bachata music.

What is Bachata today?

Young generation artists will play the key roles to secure the future of Bachata. Spanish-speaking artists from many different countries began to perform Bachata and introduced them to wider audiences.There is also some reason that helped in raising the popularity of Bachata in the last decade.

R&B influences made it more attractive for the young audience.

The way new Bachata artists perform often reflect the impact of the mass hip-hop culture.

Contemporary performers are not limited by economic circumstances as they used to be in the past.

Language differences are no longer a limitation for Bachata artists.

Bachata artists also easily gain access to American music industry which helps to promote their music.

Some artists, like Toby Love (former Aventura group member), sings Bachata songs both in Spanish and in English. He often combines Bachata rhythms with R&B. Also, his way of singing and performance makes him extremely attractive and popular among the young audiences worldwide.
What does bachata mean today? It means different things to different people and its meanings continue to evolve. But very basically Bachata is a music and dance genre that was born in the DR. It’s essential instruments include the first Guitar, 2nd guitar, bass, bongo and guira. It evolved from Bolero and was influenced by many other musics such and son, ranchera, and merengue. It is danced mainly in partners and involves a 4 step pattern that repeats with a “pause” or “touch” coming on the 4th step.

What is bachata for you?

"Bachata is like Pringles, ones you start you can’t stop. Bachata is like a chocolate; sweet, smooth and addictive. Bachata is like a cheese, the longer you dance the better you become. And finally Bachata is like a fruit salad, the fusion of traditional and moderna style."

June 22, 2019


Bachata history: summary

In the beginning, people used Bachata to condemn, expressed values and tell stories about everyday lives of the poorest part of the society. These communities mostly lived in the countrysides where Bachata emerged from. As the social situation changed, eventually Bachata music expressed social injustice, poverty and consequently social problems such as inebriety or prostitution. Its development let it finally present form of combining traditional guitar-based Dominican sound with modern R&B style.
This progress makes it more and more popular. And probably this process will strengthen in the next years because of growing popularity of many other Latin sounds.

What is Bachata: More than a dance !

What is Bachata? It is a fusion between culture and History. And today, you can respect the Bachata History and in one time make your own and authentic bachata story … with Bachata Influence at your side. The more you give love to bachata, the more you receive love from Bachata So repeat this everyday in the good and challenging days 😉