Bachata music is rooted in the countryside of the Dominican Republic, but it came front and center in the Dominican musical culture upon the death of Rafael Leonidas Trujullo, the dictator who ruled the country for three decades and used censorship as a tool of control. After Trujillo's death it seems the floodgates of creativity blew wide open and the Dominican music industry was a benefactor of that explosion. The country was ready for more diverse musical expressions, new artists and bands emerged, and Bachata served as one of the dominant brands of music exported from the country.
The term "Bachata" was not associated with the style of music yet. The term "Bachata," was used to describe rural areas and to denigrate the music played by them. The life these musicians saw and lived was difficult. The lyrics reflected their hardships such as life without running water or electricity, women being exploited, the drowning of sorrows in alcohol. They often sang about drunkenness and prostitution in a humorous way. This free expression provoked an unofficial censorship in the Dominican mainstream while Merengue received the backing of the establishment in the entertainment industry.
The typical Bachata group consists of five instruments: Requinto (or lead guitar), rhythm guitar, electric bass guitar, bongos and güira. Bachata music groups mostly play an evolved style of bolero, 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.
With The explosion of Bachata music, the musicians actively sought to modernize their style. Bachateros were deeply influenced by the merengue rhythm, and Bachata music evolved into a fusion of merengue and the old school Bachata. In early 1990's, Blas Durn, a famous Dominican musician, was the first artist to introduce the electric guitar in his Bachata-merengue hit. With this innovation, Bachata began dominating the music scene. The new modern version of Bachata traveled throughout Latin America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States.
In 1990's, new Bachateros emerged with new styles of Bachata-merengue in their repertoires. Aventura, one of the famous Dominican group based in New York, have dominated the latino market with great success. Other young Latin artists, such as Luis Vargas and Antony Santos successfully contributed to the worldwide popularity of Bachata music.
The level of stardom achieved by the contemporary Bachateros is unimaginable to the pioneers who used the music scene as instrument of free expression. In this new direction, the Bachateros of the 1990's were the first generation of pop Bachata music artists that began to emerge in the international scene, and the music was recognized as a staple in Latin dance halls.