Spotlight on the Reggaeton song genre

The aim of our spotlights on different song genres is to make it easy for Music teachers to bring to life the different contemporary music styles.  In addition, for English teachers to have the knowledge and a great instrumental track for pupils to write song lyrics in a style of music they choose.

Reggaeton is a music style that originated in Puerto Rico during the mid-1990s and is now regarded as one of the most popular music genres in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. Over the 2010s the genre has increased in popularity across Latin America, as well as acceptance within mainstream western music and nowadays the grooves of Reggaeton are used in many crossovers with other mainstream styles like RnB, Hip Hop and Pop music.

We’ve looked at some of the key features of instrumentation, rhythm & beat and chords & harmonies in Reggaeton songs.  Plus we’ve selected some Reggaeton songs to have a listen to.  Pupils can use our demonstration instrumental track to write their lyrics & melodies over.

Instrumentation
Reggaeton comes from music styles that used mainly acoustic instruments, drums, guitars, percussions. But with the influence of western electronic music, Reggaeton which is meant for dancing in clubs, blends synths sounds with more percussive traditional instruments. It is also common to hear some acoustic guitars and sometimes even horn sections.

Rhythm and Beat
Typical is the drum beat with the kicks going “4 on the floor” like in a EDM beat but with the snare playing more syncopes (syncopated rhythm). The guitar, accordion or piano sometimes play the typical reggae “Skunk” which is about playing all the “off-beats”. The rhythms are generally accompanied with a lot of percussions like shakers and congas that add fills and dynamics.

Chords and Harmonies
The roots of Reggaeton are close to folk-music but at the same time, it wants to get modern and trendy. That is why there are some songs that use traditional chord progressions while others sounds more pop. But reggaeton is also loved in RnB where we use more colourful jazz chords.

Demonstration instrumental track
You can use our demonstration instrumental track below to have a go at putting your lyrics and melodies over a Reggaeton style instrumental.  The Demo instrumental has a typical medium dance Reggaeton groove.  The song structure of this instrumental track is

Intro x4
Verse x8
Prechorus x8
Chorus x8
2nd Verse x8
2nd Prechorus x8
Chorus x8
Outro x4

SONG REFERENCES

The following references are here to help you understand the classic Reggaeton sound but also different crossovers possibilities.

DESPACITO – LUIS FONSI
This classic has almost 8 billions views on Youtube. It’s a typical Reggaeton song with acoustic instruments like guitars and traditional percussions.

MI GENTE – J BALVIN, WILLY WILLIAM
Another big hit for Reggaeton using sampling, electronic drums and percussions.

LOOSE MY COOL – AMBER MARK
This is an RnB song but using Reggaeton´s beat. It’s a very trendy crossover that uses jazzy harmonies, soulful vocals and Latinos rhythms.

DINERO – JENNIFER LOPEZ
An great crossover between Reggaeton and Hiphop mainly electronically produced but using samples.

DON’T GO YET –
CAMILA CABELLO
This is a pop song but with a rich production blending Reggaeton beats with Salsa elements. You can recognise the traditional instruments like the piano, the guitars, the choir.

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