If you hear Mariachi music, would you be able to identify it? What is unique about it? What makes it so captivating and lively?
Different music styles have spread throughout our society today. However, there’s no new tree whose seed is not from the old. Music has been a major part of humanity for ages. Mariachi is a version that has transcended centuries.
Just like language, it has been influenced by time, people, and cultures since its inception. For that reason, Mariachi originating from one culture can be different from that of another culture. In this blog, we will discuss the origins (yes, plural) of Mariachi music.
Origins of Mariachi Music
Just as with language (again), the exact birthplace of Mariachi music is anyone’s guess, but its intrinsicality to Mexican culture cannot be denied; the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Mariachi as an intangible cultural heritage of Mexico in 2011.
Though Mexican states like Colima, Nayarit, Michoacán, and Jalisco lay claim to being the true originators of the music, history seems to support Jalisco since, as of the 19th century, the music had firm roots in it. This is because Jalisco is home to the first group of Mariachi musicians, called Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, formed in 1898 by Gaspar Vargas.
Instrumentation in Mariachi Music
Native Americans used drums, rattles, conch shells, and flutes for their ceremonial events until the Spanish introduced woodwinds, violins, brass instruments, guitars, and harps, which quickly replaced the former. People learned how to play the new instruments, often giving them different tunings and shapes. Along with the Spanish came the introduction of musical bands.
The different bands adopted various styles for their groups. It was from these kinds of groups that Jaliscience (music related to Jalisco) stemmed and became popular for their song, Mariachi.
Traditionally, Mariachi bands consisted of four or more musicians playing two different instrument versions: the five-string vihuela, which resembles a lute, and the six-string guitarrón, which were used by central Jalisco’s Mariachis in addition to two violins.
Significant time for mariachi music
After the Mexican Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century, the Mexican government was looking for a means to project a sense of unity, so it adopted Mariachi as its national symbol. Deploying Mariachi bands at political rallies and using the new mass media technology of film, radio, and sound recordings turned this period into one of the golden times for Mariachi music. As Mariachi became more popular, performers included elements of jazz and Cuban music.
How Mariachi Music Reached the U.S.
When the surge of Mexican immigrants came to the U.S. by the middle of the 20th century, they brought mariachi music with them, and in 1961, Nati Cano’s Mariachi had its US premiere in Los Angeles. After that, the US quickly adopted Mariachi into her academic programs in southwest cities like San Antonio, Texas, bringing in new audiences and artists.
Before long, large music festivals like the Mariachi International Festival in Guadalajara, Mexico, and numerous new bands helped Mariachi become so popular throughout the United States and eventually the entire world. These performances featured all-female Mariachi bands, Mariachi groups from other nations, such as Egypt, Sweden, and Croatia, as well as genre-bending acts like the heavy metal Mariachi band. Eventually, mariachi became one of the most well-liked Latin music genres on Spanish-language radio stations in the US.
Features of Mariachi Music
Apart from the types of instruments already discussed used for Mariachi music, other prominent things that have been influenced in the music are:
The early Mariachi bands did not use uniforms like the ones you’ll often see today. They wore white shirts, slacks (trousers), and huaraches (low-heeled sandals having an upper made of interwoven leather strips). Early in the 1920s, the outfit was influenced by the Jalisco charros’ dress styles.
So musicians started adapting the clothing of Jalisco’s charros, which was fitted pants, a jacket that reached the waist, boots, and a few accessories like sombreros (broad-brimmed high-crowned hats) and silk ties. Today, there are a lot of intricately decorated mariachi dresses.
Mariachi groups present a wide range of traditional Mexican canciones, or songs, including ballad-like corridos (songs of famous tales) and serenades (love songs), folk music, and music accompanied by certain dances, like the kind of folk dance for couples called jarabes. Other songs, such as European polkas, were also included in the mariachi music list. Since audiences frequently request songs, a good mariachi group needs to be very knowledgeable about a wide range of compositions. Musicians can sing Mariachi music in a variety of styles, from boleros (romantic) to huapango (family-style music).
Today: Events You Can Feature Mariachi Music
Mariachi is a country’s people’s song, which honors triumphs, sorrows, and social development. At significant occasions and festivities in the lives of Latino people in America, mariachi music is frequently present. It’s typical to hear Mariachi music at:
- Religious settings like baptisms, and Catholic, or Anglican masses
- And even funerals.
Whenever you have any of these events, Mariachi music is versatile enough to add a festive and celebratory, or somber and reflective atmosphere to the occasion. If you want the best of Mariachi, Mariachi Alegre de Tucson is the best choice you can make. We have been providing authentic and captivating Mariachi music for over 40 years, and our talented musicians are dedicated to preserving the history and traditions of this beautiful art form.
Why choose us?
We have been playing and, as mentioned earlier, training others for the past 35–40 years. We practice a wide repertoire of songs appropriate for quinceaneras, weddings, funerals, and wakes. Therefore, we are confident there is at least a 95% chance we can play any song requests you have. We also have a unique salutation (fist or elbow bump) and good rapport with our audience when on stage. You should hire us for a one-of-a-kind experience at your event or that of a loved one.
We are well-versed in tuning our equipment and have all that’s needed to give you a wonderful experience. Contact us now, and let’s start preparing with you to make a lasting impression on the minds of your invitees. Or call today.