Friday, September 26, 2008

Bachata Update

I've been sidetracked by a few other projects and commitments lately, but found time to work on my bachata last night. I put a few finishing touches on and added the optional percussion parts - bongo drums and guiro, which are traditional in bachata music. I'm really happy with this one and I'm excited to have written something unusual and interesting.

Whenever I write a piece like this it's always my hope that it will open student musicians to new things and lead then to explore music they hadn't considered or didn't know existed.

All that's left is to edit the dynamics and articulation, add bowings and rehearsal numbers, and get a printed version ready. Unfortunately, it might be a while, because my weekend is booked solid. Not that I don't enjoy prolonging the joy of the composition experience, especially since I'm so close to finishing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I've written tangos, mambos, waltzes, cha-chas, and a bossa nova that's going to be published next year. You might think I like dancing, but really I just embarass myself on a dance floor. Dances are simply fun to write and to play. Nowadays, with "Dancing With The Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance" being such huge hits on TV, dancing (and especially the traditional ballroom styles) are more popular than ever. So when I sat down recently to write a new piece and decided that I want to do something different. I looked up "ballroom dances" online and found a dance that I've never heard of before - the bachata.

A few You Tube views later and I decided that I found my new inspiration. The bachata is a dance from the Dominican Republic, very similar to the merengue. The defining element of the bachata is an accent on beat four - what Wikipedia calls a "pop." The count is: 1, 2, 3, POP, 1, 2, 3, POP. It's a fast tempo (almost like a mambo), but the dance moves are often very close and romantic.

Bachata Video

It also turns out that the bachata has a long history and an established place in the world of latin dance, so it's curious that I'd never heard of it before. It has gone through several incarnations, stylistic fusions, and evolutions over the years.

So far, I've played around with bass lines and accompaniments to get the right "flow" and have come up with a good melody. I'm happy with my bachata so far and just need to come up with a B theme. I intend to play around with texture and dynamics on this one. So far, it's a lot of fun!