How to Play Bachata on the Guitar


The bachata is a type of music that originated in the Dominican Republic. Although typically a guitar-based music, its jazz-like roots allow it to also be played on the piano. It is an offshoot of the bolero and the merengue, and it is often associated with jazz for its sad and pained messages. The bachata is split into several sub-categories, based on the differences between time periods in the bachata's history. The music is heavily rhythm-based and contains a lot of chords and three-note arpeggios.

Things You'll Need

  • Bachata sheet music
  • Select a style of bachata for a more specific music type. Bachata-bolero was the original type of bachata, and it has slow tempos and included instruments like the clarinet, saxophone and violin. The New York School bachata is a more modern bachata with influences from Spanish rock and rhythm and blues.

  • Select your guitar. Bachata is mostly played on the electric guitar, but it can also be played on the acoustic guitar.

  • Purchase or search for bachata sheet music based on your selected instrument and style. You can purchase sheet music from a music supply store or download select pieces of sheet music for free from tablature and sheet music web sites.

  • Practice with the sheet music to learn the songs. Keep notes clean and sharp to better emphasize the sound of the bachata. If you are writing your own bachata music, remember to keep a feeling of sad romance. The three-three-two, a common bachata measure, consists of two three-note arpeggios followed by the first two notes of a third arpeggio. The bachata is mostly played using the major key.

  • Research and listen to popular historic or modern bachata artists like José Manuel Calderón or Aventura. If using sheet music, listen to the original versions to learn the rhythms and feelings of the songs. Pay careful attention to the timing and sound, and try to emulate it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always play the bachata with a lot of emotion. Like jazz, the bachata is an emotionally charged music and relies on the portrayal of the hardships and loneliness of love and romance.
  • If playing as part of a bachata band, double-string harmonies and single-string lines can be used in short solos.

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