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Mexican Mariachi Bands

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by Mark Sommer on 18 October 2012

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Transcript of Mexican Mariachi Bands

Mexican Mariachi Bands History and Origins For years, musicologists, and folklorists have debated over the meaning and origin of the word “mariachi”. The most commonly used explanation is used on record covers, and travel brochures which originates from the era of Maximilian, a Frenchman dubbed the emperor of Mexico from 1867-1867. The myth goes that during Maximilian’s rule, he named the ensemble “Mariachi” based off its affiliation with weddings (in French, the word “mariage” means wedding or marriage). From this, “mirage” supposedly became “mariachi”. However, this explanation has been rejected by linguists when it was discovered that “mariachi” was used in Mexico prior to French arrival. The most accepted idea behind the word’s origins comes from native roots. This idea implies that the band was named after the wood used in creation of the performing platform for village performances. Nevertheless, the word “mariachi” today strikes the image and sound of vibrant colors to an enjoyable form of music. Origins of the Word “Mariachi” Mariachi music has its roots leading to the first folk music of Mexico. Originally celebrating the joys, struggles, and triumphs of the Mexican people, Mexican country folk began to create the first form of Mariachi music. From there, it evolved under Spanish theatrical music influence. As a result, violins, guitars, and a harp were added to the mariachi ensemble. By this time, however, not many mariachi bands were well known outside of their region. As the music of the Mexican people grew, the Mexican state of Jalisco transformed it into a closer resemblance to the mariachi music heard today. By the end of the nineteenth century, the vihuela, violin, and guitarrón were added to the mariachi instrumentation. Soon thereafter, the traditional guitar, 2 trumpets, and more violins were added to the selection of the band by the late 1950’s. Because of this, a mariachi band was able to play a greater variety of music than “son” (a traditional Mexican folk style). History - Violins: Ranging in number from 6 to 8 per band, violins provide a sweet and softer tone to the music performed.

- Trumpets: Typically 2 per ensemble, trumpets bring a sense of brilliance and a brass voice into the assortation of instruments.

- Guitar: Similar to the guitarrón, the European guitar provides the bass line, and maintains a constant and steady rhythm.

- Vihuela: Unlike its European counterpart, the Vihuela is higher-pitched, and has a rounded back, as well as provides the vital rhythm of the mariachi band.

- Guitarrón: Serving alongside the European guitar, the guitarrón remains low-pitched and steady.

- Mexican Folk Harp: Although it may double with the guitarrón and guitar on the bass line, the harp may also posses the melody at times. Instruments With the combination of these instruments, sharp contrast and defined diversity can easily be heard; some of this example include: the soft sound of the violins against the crisp brass style of the trumpets and the low-toned voice of the guitarrón in comparison to the high and defined quality of the Vihuela. Between the on and off the beats and syncopation in the songs, the collaboration of these instruments portray a stunning music style that is genuinely Mexican. Mariachi bands can be found celebrating the good times in the Mexican people’s lives as well as lift spirits in the bad. The serenata (or serenade) style of mariachi playing is oftenly used by a young man whom wishes to express his love to a young woman. Las Mañanitas is the traditional song for Saints Day, but is also played on birthdays. While mariachi bands are commonly hired for baptisms, wedding, and holidays, its is not unusual to find one performing a list of Mexican songs chosen by the deceased at a funeral. Mariachi bands also play at a Mexican folk mass called Misa Panamericana. Here, songs are sung in Spanish as the instruments of the band provide a new vivid and refreshing quality while traditional Catholic elements remain constant. Special Ocassions - Zapateado: Meaning “footwork” in Spanish, this form of dance has its origins from Spain. Both male and female performers dig the heels of their shoes into the ground while dancing. Because of this, the dance floor it usually dented by the end of the night.

- Huapango: In this dance, lines of couples begin by facing each other. As the the dancers shuffle their feet to music, they must make sure that no movement is transferred to the torso. Some huapango dancers demonstrate their skill by performing while balancing a glass atop their head.

- Mexican Hat Dance: This dance is perhaps the most famous of the mexican dances, and is also referred to as “Jarabe Tapatio”. Being Mexico’s national dance, the Mexican Hat dance requires much choreography and skill. The wardrobe for men is usually the Jalisco horseman outfit while the woman wear bright silk shirts and shawls. Dances And that's a brief summary of... By: Mark Sommer
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