There are a plethora of music genres based on Spanish guitar motives. Bachata is one of the most popular embranchments of traditional dancing and music styles that originated in the Dominican Republic. The following paper will cover and discuss the history of Bachata and its role in the culture of the Dominican Republic and the state’s population.
The Music Genre Brief History
To start the discussion with the history of such music genre as Bachata, it would be proper to state that it remains one of the most popular styles in different countries of Latin America. The majority of the songs written in accordance with the genre’s traditions are about love and particular difficulties that this feeling presents (Brill 76). Moreover, people who play Bachata like to sing about their unhappy lives and unfortunate events that they face on a daily basis.
The first notes of Bachata appeared at the beginning of the 1960s. This music genre emerged due to the social factors that were prevalent in the Dominican Republic after its dictator, Raphael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, was assassinated (Gregory 25). In the second half of the twentieth century, the local inhabitants (who used to live in poverty) started to organize specific parties almost every evening. These events were given the name of bachata or Cumbancha. People who joined such evenings were considered to be vulgar. Individuals with the lowest levels of life possible in the Dominican Republic gathered to sing, dance, to tell jokes to one another, and so on. The main topic of their meetings was their indigent life and unrequited love.
If one listens to the traditional bachata’s motives thoroughly, it is possible for him or her to hear some elements of bolero and another music genre from the Dominican Republic that is called a son (Hernandez 58). Also, this style does not imply the usage of the clave rhythm that is widespread in Cuban music (“What is Bachata?” 1). These qualities make the genre different from other Latin American music embranchments. It would be proper to mention that bachata was prohibited on the territory of the Dominican Republic for a certain period as it was claimed to be low-minded. Radios refused to play such music on the air.
However, the genre described above gained its popularity among many musicians and a broader audience in the 1980s. Artists started to use various bachata melodies to emphasize on such feelings as melancholy and nostalgia. Luis Diaz was the first person who happened to pioneer and introduce the music style to foreign societies. He was interested in the folklore of the Dominican Republic and recorded the album that included only bachata songs (Hernandez 59). However, the most popular person in the entire history of the music genre is Juan Luis Guerra who released his revolutionary album in the year 1990. He managed to change people’s attitudes towards the style of bachata as it became popular even among rich and highly-educated individuals (Stavans 77). Nowadays, it is also popular in the United States of America as many bachata bands give tours and concerts all over the country.
Today, the population of the Dominican Republic does not have any stereotypes regarding bachata. The music genre became a part of the country’s culture. However, its original motives and melodies were changed in accordance with new trends and standards in music. Moreover, many people from Mexico, the USA, Spain, and other countries enjoy and record bachata music.
A Controversy Within Bachata
As it is mentioned above, people from wealthy families and other higher societies did not recognize bachata as a music genre because of people who used to sing songs about their unhappy lives and unfair destinies. Moreover, this style was not acceptable on discotheques and was prohibited from playing in public places and on the radio air (Hernandez 64). Also, bachata was considered to be the genre of prostitutes, lower societies, alcoholics, and other people who do not have any goals in their lives. However, poor inhabitants of the Dominican Republic used to dance and express their feelings with calm melodies of bachata. They wanted to tell others that their hard lives were inevitable. The main public dialogue on this genre occurred due to loud parties that people had back in the 1960s in such public places as squares, house yards, parks, and so on (Roorda et al. 103). Indeed, rich people of high moral principles did not have the same feelings or concerns because their lives were much better and less stressful. Therefore, bachata remained a low genre until its popularization by famous artists in the 1880s.
Bachata is a music genre that was developed in the Dominican Republic. This style was popular among people who lived in poverty and did not have any bright memories or hopes. They reconciled to their destinies and wanted to sing and talk about all the difficulties that they faced in their lives. Unfortunately, the genre was not recognized by the members of higher societies and by people with other mentalities. Nevertheless, bachata became very popular because Juan Luis Guerra (a singer) composed a plethora of songs of this genre and gave concerts all over the American continent in the 1880s. Nowadays, bachata is a traditional style of the Dominican Republic that is played almost at every event in the
Brill, Mark. Music of Latin America and the Caribbean. Routledge, 2016.
Gregory, Steven. The Devil Behind the Mirror: Globalization and Politics in the Dominican Republic. University of California Press, 2014.
Hernandez, Deborah Pacini. Bachata: A Social History of a Dominican Popular Music. Temple University Press, 1995.
Roorda, Eric, et al. The Dominican Republic Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Duke University Press, 2014.
Stavans, Ilan, editor. Latin Music: Musicians, Genres, and Themes. Greenwood, 2014.
“What is Bachata?” IASO Records, 2017, Web.