salsa vs bachata

Salsa Vs Bachata: What is the Difference Between Them

Those who are not familiar with Latin rhythms, probably confuse a salsa theme with a bachata theme and even dance both genres as if they were similar. The reality is that they have their own origins, characteristics and steps that differentiate them very well, so if you want to show off with your knowledge and skills as a good dancer, do not miss this article in a How to learn the difference between salsa and the bachata. Keep reading and discover these two musical genres that sound so much today and that encourages us to go out dancing almost uncontrollably.

Salsa origins

Salsa is the result of the mixture of diverse Latin musical genres with jazz, among which are guaracha, mambo, son montuno, cumbia, merengue, vallenato and chachacha. It was not until the end of the sixties that it began to be called salsa, with the reluctance of some exponents of the genre who claimed that it was only a commercial name to name various Cuban rhythms.

salsa vs bachata

More than a genre, salsa became a form of cultural exchange between the countries of the Caribbean region, who saw in this rhythm the opportunity to add their own contributions, making it one of the most enriched genres in musical terms. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Cuban and Puerto Rican communities settled in New York were responsible for spreading the culture of salsa in the United States and from there to the rest of the world.

On the origins of the word “salsa” to name this mixture of rhythms, there are contradictory versions: for some, it comes from Venezuela, since that was how a Venezuelan announcer began calling him in 1968 after an interview with the singer, Pianist and arranger Richie Ray, who explained that the music he made was like ketchup sauce, which “gave the food a flavor.” That same year, a Ray album with Bobby Cruz called Los Durísimos was released, in which they called their musical proposal “salsa”. While for other researchers, the creator of the term was the Dominican musician Jhonny Pacheco, who is considered the “father of salsa”.

Bachata origins

Bachata is a genre linked to urban folklore that originates from the island of Santo Domingo, in the heart of the Caribbean. It has a deep-rooted influence on the bolero, both due to the use of trios or guitar quartets in their original execution, as well as the characteristic lyrics, which in most cases usually speak of heartbreak, which is why it was also known as “music of bitter. “


Bachata was long considered a vulgar genre, linked to the most disadvantaged and less educated classes, since it emerged in bars and brothels in poor areas of the island, until a record store converted into a radio station and known as Radio Guarachita, will contribute to the dissemination and massification of the genre, giving exposure to the artists of the time since the early sixties. Thus, the difference between salsa and bachata has to do not only with their country of origin but with the rhythms that influenced them.

The word bachata has been used since the 1920s in the Dominican Republic to refer to the revelry, the street party, and although it did not refer to a musical genre, it did refer exclusively to street celebrations in which boleros were commonly performed. or meringues with guitar, some of the influences that would give rise to this rhythm.

Musical characteristics of salsa and bachata

To know what is the difference between salsa and bachata, you have to know that the rhythm pattern of the Cuban son is used in salsa. The instrumentation may vary according to the artist or the orchestra, but the original percussion instruments are the timpani, bongo, maracas, Cuban güiro and cowbell. The flute, trombones, saxophone, trumpets, piano, double bass, and violin can complete the orchestra.

While in bachata a typical ensemble will be made up of a bongo or tumbadora, two maracas or a güiro and two guitars, although technological advances and the internationalization of the genre brought with them electronic instrumentalization and the incorporation of rhythms such as jazz.

Main exponents of salsa and bachata

In both genres there are almost countless artists and musical groups that have made their contribution to spread, popularize and enrich these tropical rhythms, it is possible to mention some:

Salsa highlights include Los Van Van, Tito Puente, La Sonora Matancera, Celia Cruz, Richie Ray, Bobby Cruz, Jhonny Pacheco, José Alberto “El Canario”, Larry and Andy Harlow, Maelo Ruiz, La India, Marc Anthony, La Latin Dimension, Oscar D’León, Ruben and Roberto Blades, Cheo Feliciano, El Gran Combo, Ismael Rivera, Ismael Miranda, La Sonora Ponceña, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Tito Nieves, Víctor Manuelle, all of them from different countries and musical periods.

In bachata you can mention Rafael Encarnación, Tommy Figueroa, Luis Segura, José Manuel Calderón, Mélida Rodríguez, Leonardo Paniagua, Víctor Víctor, Juan Luis Guerra, Sonia Silvestre, Luis Díaz, Luis Miguel del Amargue, Blas Durán, the Aventura group , Prince Royce and Romeo Santos as some of the representatives of this movement.

The dance in salsa and bachata

One of the differences between salsa and bachata can be seen in the way of dancing. Although both types of dance involve couples’ choreography in which the man has the leading role, having different rhythmic bases, the ways of dancing differ. Salsa involves a movement of the hips and shoulders in which turns on the same axis are essential and the exhibition of the dance itself is almost always the end goal.

In bachata it is rather danced with movements to the sides or forward and backward, generally dramatic and seductive, in keeping with the compositions that usually speak of disappointment, heartbreak and nostalgia; In this sense, it has a similarity to tango in terms of what the couple wants to transmit to those who observe them.

There is not a single way to dance each rhythm since there are many derivations of them according to the country. Thus we have that exists from the traditional Cuban sauce, casino sauce, online sauce and a style developed in the Colombian city of Cali specialized in acrobatic movements. In the same way, there is traditional bachata, bach tango, urban bachata (which involves hip hop patterns) and modern bachata, to name just a few styles of each.

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