The history of music in Mexico is diverse and multinational. With roots as widespread as Spain, Poland, Africa and the Middle East, one can expect a true variety. There are more styles of Mexican music than perhaps any country in the world.
The state of Jalisco, that of Puerto Vallarta, gave birth to Mariachi, which became the declared national music of the country, following the Mexican Revolution in 1910. No wedding is complete without the festive, colorfully costumed musicians and their trumpets, coronets and multiple assortment of string instruments. As popular, seemingly similar and yet very different, are Norteño and its close relative Ranchera. The waltz, bolero and polka have derived from this traditional music, made popular with the migration of Northern Europeans and their Bohemian tempos. Tubas and accordions set these genres in a category of their own. It is not unusual to hear Norteño in the United States, specifically Texas, but it should be noted that all of Texas was originally Mexico. Ranchera finds its origin on the ranches and countryside of Mexico, hence the name. It was and remains the music of vaqueros (cowboys).
Banda music can be traced back to the time of the Second Mexican Empire, during the short-lived reign of Emperor Maximillian I. Banda is derived from the strong military influence of that era. Many people refer to their neighbors’ party noise late at night as banda, but they are probably hearing, much to their chagrin, norteño and/or ranchera.
Mexican Son is the music of rural Mexico and what you’ll hear accompanying dancers who twirl their voluminous skirts, stamp their feet and dance around hats. The basic sounds, imported from Cuba, Columbia, Venezuela and other Latin American lines, also technically claim Mariachi. Cumbia, once considered a South American genre is now widely declared as being Mexican. As with most things Mexican, there are a lot of minutiae associated with Son. Arpa grande, for example, conjoins harp with violins and guitars. Huasteco and huapanquera are very stylized with two falsetto singers accompanied customarily by a single violin, though improvisation is common. Jarocho, distinctly from Veracruz has a very strong African influence, while jaliscience, from Jalisco and Colima combine instrumental and song and are always played in major keys.
Next time you listen to Mexican music, see if you can decide where it originated and don’t be shy… ask the performers where they are from and what their style of music is called.
Que es cómo es.
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