As with many other dance styles, bachata is both the name of the dance and a name for a genre of music, with the dance style emerging from the music. With bachata, the music and the dance are intimately connected so it is worth understanding a little about the music style so that you can up your bachata dancing game. Check out this video of Ataca and La Alemana and you can see just how in tune bachata dancing is with bachata music.
What is bachata music?
Bachata music originated in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s. It is often compared to American blues music because of its style, content, and cultural elements. Like the blues, bachata emerged with themes related to heartbreak, death, unrequited love, and depression. It was also the music style of the working class, shunned by the upper classes, in a similar manner to the blues.
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Bachata music distinguished itself from other Latin music styles because it used a pared-down number of musicians and instruments. This made it more accessible to everyday people and gave the music a simpler feel. The instruments included a lead guitar, a rhythm guitar, a bass guitar, a guira, and bongos.
Bachata originally had a rustic feel and was anchored by an acoustic guitar and had a melancholy feel that fits well with the lyrics. Over time, however, this changed. By the 1980s, the acoustic lead guitar was often replaced by an electric guitar and the song lyrics focused more on love than heartbreak. This change was reflected in the tempo of the music, which became faster and more upbeat.
Nowadays, there is a lot of variation in bachata music. You can still find traditional bachata but there are many artists now that employ creativity and innovation by bringing in elements from other styles, such as hip-hop, R&B, reggaeton, and pop. Alongside this, bachata dancing has also taken different branches, with many different styles now being danced.
While many people do still dance traditional bachata, as with the music, there has been a push towards fusion with other dance styles. This includes bachata sensual, bachata modern, and bachatatango, Regardless of the style, bachata music needs to keep the same 4/4 beat for bachata dancers to be able to dance to it.
Bachata music, whether traditional Dominican bachata or the more modern bachata styles, is beautiful and the more bachata you dance the more familiar you will become with it.
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