When you ask somebody where they from and they answer Dominican Republic, the first thing that comes to mind is the beach, spanish food, and their worldwide known music that truly identifies them: bachata.Bachata is a very popular type music, now known among all Latinos in the United States.Bachata comes from the bars and brothels of Santo Domingo and it still stands strong after more than 40 years.
However, this music was not accepted in the Dominican Republic until about ten years ago.
Bachata is based on the bolero rhythm.Also bachateros like Antony Santo and Juan Luis Guerra started experimenting with the guitar to advance more the sound of bachata. The Dominican Republic always had guitar music. Although the person that put it on the map for others to see was Jose Manuel Calderon in 1961. After some time, bachata started associating with the world of prostitution, poverty and delinquency. This mainly because of the “conflicts within Dominican society around poverty and wealth, tradition and modernity, as well as genuine bad faith on the part of other elements in the music industry.
Only one radio station would play bachata in the whole island and Bachateros were also barred from performing in high society venues. They would only perform in bars. The reason people did not like bachata was because of their subject. They used talk about the barrio, for example of the prostitutes and their lovers. They used slang and very sexual vocabulary. The music was influenced by its surroundings like sex, despair and crime. Bachata was a very free and liberal way to express feelings from 1970 to 1990.
The typical bachata group consists of five instruments: lead guitar, rhythm guitar, electric bass guitar, bongos and guira. The rhythm guitar is also known as a Segunda and serves the purpose of adding syncopation to the music. Bachata groups mainly play an evolved style of bolero, but when they change to 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. Regardless of its unauthorized restriction, bachata remained widely popular. Merengue benefited from the country’s major publicity.
However, bachata continued to outsell merengue. Some Bachateros to emerge from this era were Marino Perez, and Leonardo Paniagua. The music kept getting more and more popular which forced other radio stations to start playing it. Bachateros started performing on television which led to more dancing rhythm.Anthony Santos and Luis Varga became the most worldwide recognize artists of bachata of all time. In 1992 bachata singer Juan Luis Guerra was nominated for the grammy’s and successfully became the winner with he’s hits, 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.