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The music of Mexico is very diverse and features a wide range of musical genres and performance styles. It has been influenced by a variety of cultures, most notably indigenous Mexican and European, since the Late Middle Ages.
Many traditional Mexican songs are well-known worldwide, including Bésame Mucho (Kiss Me a Lot), Huapango, La Bamba (The Bamba), Solamente una vez (English version "You Belong to My Heart"), La Bikina (The Bikina), Cielito Lindo (Beautiful Sweetheart), Somos Novios (We Are Lovers; English version "It's Impossible"), El Rey (The King), María Bonita (Pretty María), México Lindo y Querido (Beautiful, Beloved Mexico), Pelea de gallos (La feria de San Marcos), Enamorada (In Love). La Cucaracha (The Cockroach), although popularized during the Mexican Revolution, is a Mexican corrido.
Mexican traditional folk music can be classified in two aspects:
Its formal structure is based on the alternation of instrumental sections and the singing of short poetic units called coplas. The mode is usually major, with harmonic vocabulary mostly limited to progressions drawing from I, IV, II7, V and V5. Triple meter (6/8, 3/4, or a combination of both) predominates, with many exceptions in duple meter.
Son is performed most often by small ensembles in which string instruments predominate, with notable region-specific exceptions like marimba ensembles and wind ensembles.
Mexican Son music was developed from the mixture of Spanish music with indigenous music from different regions, hence the music exhibited lots of variation from differents places, both in rhythm and instrumentation. Mariachi can be considered one type of Mexican son. Mexican son also includes various miscellaneous styles. The guitar is universally present in nearly all Mexican son sub-genres. Other instruments may include trumpets, violins, and accordions.
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Ranchera is a genre of the traditional Mexican music originally sung by only one performer with a guitar. It dates to the years of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. It later became closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco.
Ranchera today is also played by norteño (Conjunto) or banda. Drawing on rural traditional folk music, ranchera developed as a symbol of a new national consciousness in reaction to the aristocratic tastes of the period. Traditional rancheras are about love, patriotism or nature. Rhythms can be in 3/4, 2/4 or 4/4, reflecting the tempo of, respectively, the waltz, the polka, and the bolero. The most popular ranchera composers include Lucha Reyes, Cuco Sánchez, Antonio Aguilar, Vicente Fernandez and José Alfredo Jiménez, who composed many of the best-known rancheras, with compositions totaling more than 1000 songs, making him one of the most prolific songwriters in the history of western music. The word ranchera was derived from the word rancho because the songs originated on the ranches and in the countryside of rural Mexico. Rancheras that have been adapted by conjuntos, or norteño bands from northern Mo and the southwestern US, are sometimes called norteños, from the Spanish word for northern. The most relevant performers are Lola Beltrán, Chavela Vargas, María de Lourdes, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Javier Solís, Lucha Villa, Vicente Fernández, Pepe Aguilar, and Alejandro Fernández. Walt Disney was a supporter of this music style he supported it financially .
Corrido music is a popular narrative song of poetry form, a ballad. Various themes are featured in Mexican corridos, and corrido lyrics are often old legends (stories) and ballads about a famed criminal or hero in the rural frontier areas of Mexico. Some corridos may also be love stories there are also corridos about women (La Venganza de Maria, Laurita Garza, La tragedia de Rosita and la adelita) and couples, not just about men. Some even talk about fiction or a made up story by the composer. Contemporary corridos written within the past few decades feature more modern themes such as drug trafficking (narcocorridos), immigration, migrant labor and even the Chupacabra.
Performed by Sean Buss & Elisa
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A common example is "la Cucaracha" which is derived from an Arabic sailors song from the Moors prior the Reconquista. The corrido has a rhythm similar to that of the European waltz; corridos, like rancheras, have introductory instrumental music and adornos interrupting the stanzas of the lyrics. However, unlike rancheras, the rhythm of a corrido remains fairly consistent, rancheras can be played at a variety of rhythms. Corridos often tell stories, while rancheras are for dancing.
Mariachi is an ensemble that consists of guitarrón, vihuela, guitar, violins and trumpets. This folk ensemble performs ranchera, son de mariachi, huapango de mariachi, polka, corrido, and other musical forms. It originated in the southern part of the state of Jalisco during the 19th century. The city of Guadalajara in Jalisco is known as the "Capital of Mariachi". The style is now popular throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States, and is considered representative of Mexican music and culture. This style of music is played by a group consisting of five or more musicians who wear charro suits. The golden age of mariachi was in the 1950s, when the ranchera style was common in movies. Mariachi Vargas played for many of these soundtracks, and the long-lived band's long career and popular acclaim has made it one of the best-known mariachi. These movies became very popular in Latin America and mariachi's became very popular in places such as Colombia and Peru until this date.
There are different theories as to the provenance of the word mariachi. Some say it comes from the French word mariage because it was the type of music often played at weddings. However, mariachi originates from a part of Mexico that the French never visited and, even it they had, it began before their arrival in 1864. Another theory is that the word comes from the indigenous name of the Pilla or Cirimo tree, whose wood is used to make guitars. It has also been said that the name comes from a festival in honor of a virgin known as Maria H. that musicians played for and that over time they were given this name.
The traditional mariachi band consists of the violin, the vihuela, guitar, a guitarrón (large bass guitar) and a trumpet. Other instruments may also be seen in a mariachi band, such as the flute, French horn, accordion, or organ are used. These instruments are used for specific arrangements.
Mexican music was popularized in the United States in the late 1970s as part of a revival of mariachi music led by performers like Linda Ronstadt. Other famous mariachi performers include Pedro Infante, Vicente Fernández, Pepe Aguilar, Pedro Fernández, Alejandro Fernández, Antonio Aguilar, and Miguel Aceves Mejia. Some of the best-known examples of Mexican music in the United States is "La Cucaracha" and the Jarabe tapatío (referred to as the Mexican Hat Dance in the United States).
Ensemble specialized in norteño music. It consists of diatonic accordion, bajo sexto, double bass and drums. Another important music style is musica norteña, from northern Mexico, which has been the basis for such sub-genres as musica de banda. Musica Norteña, like musica Tejana, arose in the 1830s and 40s in the Rio Grande region, in the southern Texas. Influenced by both Bohemian music and immigrant miners, its rhythm was derived from European polkas, which were popular during the 1800s. This type of Mexican music has derived from singers like Ramon Ayala, Los Tigres del Norte, and many more.
Banda music was made with the imitation of military bands that were imported during the Second Mexican Empire, headed by emperor Maximillian I of Mexico in the 1860s. Banda sounds very similar to polka music. Polish immigrants established themselves in the state of Sinaloa. It was further popularized during the Mexican Revolution when local authorities and states formed their own bands to play in the town squares. Revolutionary leaders like Pancho Villa, also took wind bands with them wherever they went. Banda has to this day remained popular throughout the central and northern states. It has, however, diversified into different styles due to regions, instruments and modernization. Today people associate banda with Sinaloense. This originated in the 1940s when the media distributed Banda el Recodo repertoire as exclusively from Sinaloa when it was actually regional music from all over Mexico.
Banda Sinaloense experienced international popularity in the 1990s. The most prominent band was Banda el Recodo which is renowned as "the mother of all bands". Unlike tamborazo Zacatecano, Sinaloense's essential instrument is the tuba. Sometimes an accordion is also included. Some well-known artists are Banda El Recodo, La Arrolladora Banda El Limón de René Camacho, Banda Los Recoditos, Banda Cuisillos, Joan Sebastian, Chalino Sánchez, El Chapo de Sinaloa and Banda Machos.
Tamborazo Zacatecano originated in the state of Zacatecas and translates to drum-beat from Zacatecas. This banda style is traditionally composed of 2 trumpets, 2 saxophones, a trombone and the essential bass drum. La Marcha de Zacatecas (The March of Zacatecas) by Genaro Codina is a perfect example of this type of music. La Marcha de Zacatecas is a Mexican patriotic song, the anthem of the State of Zacatecas and considered the 2nd national anthem of Mexico.
Grupera (or onda grupera) is a genre of Mexican popular music. It is influenced by the styles of cumbia, norteño, and ranchera, and reached the height of its popularity in the 1980s, especially in rural areas.
The music actually has roots in the rock groups of the 1960s, but today generally consists of five or fewer musicians using electric guitars, keyboards and drums. Artists in this genre include Yonics, Los Humildes, La Migra, Los Caminantes, Limite, Ana Bárbara, Joan Sebastian, Los Temerarios, Marco Antonio Solís, Myriam, and Bronco. The music increased in popularity in the 1990s and became commercially viable, and is now recognized in some Latin music awards ceremonies such as Lo Nuestro and The Latin Grammy Awards.
The original wave of Mexican rock bands got their start mostly with Spanish covers of popular English rock songs. After this initial stage they moved on to include in their repertoire traditional ranchera songs, in addition to cumbia, and ballads. Thus the 1970s saw the rise of a number of grupera bands that specialized in slow ballads and songs that up to that point had only been sung with mariachi. Among these we can include Los Muecas, Los Freddys, Los Babys, La Migra, etc.
An ecletic range of influences is at the heart of Latin alternative, a music created by young players who have been raised not only on their parents' music but also on rock, hip-hop and electronica. It represents a sonic shift away from regionalism and points to a new global Latin identity.
The name "Latin alternative" was coined in the late 1990s by American record company executives as a way to sell music that was -literally—all over the map. It was marketed as an alternative to the slick, highly produced Latin pop that dominated commercial Spanish-language radio, such as Ricky Martin or Paulina Rubio.
Ska entered Mexico in the 1960s, when both small bands like Los Matemáticos and big orchestras like Orquestra de Pablo Beltrán Ruíz recorded both original ska tunes and covers of Jaimacan hits. After early new wave bands of the early eighties like Dangerous Rhythm and Kenny and the Electrics incorporated Ska into their post-punk sound, a more punk influenced brand of Ska started being produced in Mexico City in the late eighties, and the genre enjoyed its highest popularity during the early 2000s, even though it is still very popular today. Mexican Ska groups include Panteon Rococo (Mexico City), La Maldita Vecindad (Mexico City), Mama Pulpa (Mexico City) and Tijuana No! (Tijuana, Baja California; originally named Radio Chantaje).
The Mexican rock movement began in the late 1950s and early 1960s, rapidly becoming popular, and peaking in the 1980s and 1990s with real authentic sounds and styles. One of the early Mexican Rock bands came out of the predominantly Mexican barrio community of East Los Angeles, "Los Nómadas" (The Nomads). They were the first racially integrated Rock and Roll band of the 1950s, consisting of 3 Mexican boys, Chico Vasquez, Jose 'J.D.' Moreno, Abel Padilla, and a Caucasian boy Bill Aken (Billy Mayorga Aken). The adopted son of classical guitarist Francisco Mayorga and Mexican movie actress Lupe Mayorga, Aken was mentored by family friend, jazz guitarist Ray Pohlman and would later become rocker Zane Ashton, arranging music and playing lead guitar for everybody from Elvis to Nina Simone. His association with the other three boys would be a lifelong one and they stayed together as a band for more than thirty years. Mexican Rock combined the traditional instruments and stories of Mexico in its songs. Mexican and Latin American Rock en Español, remain very popular in Mexico, surpassing other cultural interpretations of Rock and Roll, including British Rock.
In the 60s and 70s, during the PRI government, most rock bands were forced to appear underground, that was the time after Avándaro (a Woodstock-style Mexican festival) in which groups like El Tri, Enigma, The Dugs Dugs, Javier Batiz and many others arose. During that time Mexican Carlos Santana became famous after performing at Woodstock. During the 80s Exanime formed in 1985 in Monterrey. N.L. and 90s many Mexican bands went to the surface and popular rock bands like Santa Sabina, Café Tacuba, Caifanes, Control Machete, Fobia, Los de Abajo, Molotov, Maná, Ely Guerra, Julieta Venegas and Maldita Vecindad achieved a large international following.
The latter are "grandfathers" to the Latin ska movement. Mexico City has also a considerable movement of bands playing surf rock inspired in their outfits by local show-sport lucha libre. In the late 90's, Mexico had a new wave "resurgence" of rock music with bands like Jumbo, Zoé, Porter, etc., as well as instrumentalists Rodrigo y Gabriela and Los Jaigüey the band of Santa Sabina's bass player, Poncho Figueroa, along with brothers Gustavo Jacob & Ricardo Jacob in the late 2000s.
Extreme metal has been popular for a long time in Mexico, with bands such as Dilemma, Exanime formed in 1985 in Monterrey. N.L. The Chasm, Xiuhtecuhtli, Disgorge, Brujeria, Transmetal, Hacavitz, Sargatanas, Mictlayotl, Yaoyotl, Ereshkigal and Calvarium Funestus. The Mexican metal fanbase is credited with being amongst one of the most lively and intense, and favorites for European metal bands to perform for.
The Mexican music market serves as a launching pad to stardom for a lot of non-Mexican artists who are interested extending the market-range of their music. Such was the case with Julio Iglesias, Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, Chayanne, Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Mecano, Miguel Bosé, Daddy Yankee, Wisin & Yandel, Susan Lane, and Ricky Martin, among many others.
For the last thirty years, Mexican pop music has been led by teen pop bands and their former members. Specially seminal teen pop bands of the last decades have been Timbiriche, OV7 and RBD. Unlike teen pop bands elsewhere, the Mexican audience tends to prefer mixed gender combos over boys or girls bands.
Some of the best Mexican composers for electronic and electroacoustic media are Javier Torres Maldonado, Murcof and Manuel Rocha Iturbide, the later conducting festivals and workshops of experimental music and art, in Mexico City and Paris. Some exponents are Nortec Collective, Wakal, Kobol (band), Murcof, Hocico & Deorro and Mexican Institute of Sound.
Other popular forms of music found in various parts of Mexico – mostly with origins in other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America include rumba, mambo, bolero, and cumbia. Rumba came from the black Mexican slaves in Veracruz, Mexico City, and Yucatán. The style began in Cuba and later became famous in the black community of Mexico. From the beginning of the 20th century, bolero arrived to Yucatán, and Danzón to Veracruz. Both styles became very popular all over the country, and a Mexican style of both rhythms was developed.
In the 1940s, the Cubans Perez Prado, Benny More emigrated to Mexico, they brought with them the mambo, which became extremely popular specially in Mexico City, later on mambo developed into Cha cha chá which was also very popular.
The Cuban bolero has traveled to Mexico and the rest of Latin America after its conception, where it became part of their repertoires. Some of the bolero's leading composers have come from nearby countries, most especially the prolific Puerto Rican composer Rafael Hernández; another example is Mexico's Agustín Lara. Some Cuban composers of the bolero are listed under Trova. Some successful Mexican bolero composers are Maria Grever, Gonzalo Curiel Barba, Gabriel Ruiz, and Consuelo Velazquez. Another composer Armando Manzanero widely considered the premier Mexican romantic composer of the postwar era and one of the most successful composers of Latin America has composed more than four hundred songs, fifty of which have given him international fame. His most famous songs include Voy a apagar la luz (I'm Going to Turn Off the Lights), Contigo Aprendí ( With you I Learnt... ), Adoro (Adore), No sé tú (I don't know if you...), Por Debajo de la Mesa (Under the Table) Esta Tarde Vi Llover (English version "Yesterday I Heard the Rain"), Somos Novios (English version "It's Impossible"), Felicidad (Happiness) and Nada Personal (Nothing Personal).
Some renowned trios románticos were Trio Los Panchos, Los Tres Ases, Los Tres Diamantes and Los Dandys. Trio Bolero, a unique ensemble of two guitars and one cello.
The Latin or romantic ballad has its origin in the Latin American bolero in 50 years (Lucho Kitten, Leo Marini), but also in the romantic song in Italian (Nicola Di Bari) and French (Charles Aznavour) in years 60 and 70.
The ethnomusicologist Daniel Party defines the romantic ballad as "a love song of slow tempo, played by a solo singer accompanied by an orchestra usually".
The ballad and bolero are often confused and songs can fall in one or the other category without too much presicion. The distinction between them is referring primarily to a more sophisticated and more metaphorical language and subtle bolero, compared with a more direct expression of the ballad.
In Mexico, the first ballad that is registered as such is "Sonata de Amor" (Sonata of Love) of Mario Alvarez in 1961. In 1965 the famous bolero singer-songwriter Armando Manzanero, recorded his first ballad, "Pobres besos míos" (My Poor Kisses).
The heyday of the ballad was reached in the mid-70's, where artists such as José José, Camilo Sesto, Raphael, Roberto Carlos, Rocío Dúrcal and others released a big number of hits. The main hist of José José were "El triste" (The Sad One), "La nave del olvido" (The Ship of Oblivion), "Te extraño" (I Miss You), "Amar y querer" (Love and Love), or "Gavilán o paloma" (Pigeon or Hawk), "El pasado" (The Past), "Volcán" (Volcano) or "Lo que no fue no será" (What Never Was Will Never Be). In the course of their existence the genre merged with diverse rhythms to form several variants, such as romantic salsa and cumbia aside others.
From the 1990s, globalization and media internationalization processes that integrated contributed to the ballad's spread international spread and further homogenize around a common Latina identity.
The history of Cumbia in Mexico is almost as old as Cumbia in Colombia. In the 1940s Colombian singers emigrated to Mexico, where they worked with the Mexican orquestra director Rafael de Paz. In the 50s they recorded what many people consider to be the first cumbia recorded outside of Colombia, La Cumbia Cienaguera. He recorded other hits like Mi gallo tuerto, Caprichito, and Nochebuena . This is when Cumbia began to be popularized in Mexico with Tony Camargo as one of the first exponents of Mexican Cumbia. Cumbia had made its mark in Mexico D.F where mostly the people dance to it are called "Chilangos" which were people that were born in the main district. The dances have transformed throughtime by the style and with its new moderation.
In the 70s Aniceto Molina also emigrated to Mexico, where he joined the group from Guerrero, La Luz Roja de San Marcos, and recorded many popular tropical cumbias like El Gallo Mojado, El Peluquero, and La Mariscada. Also in the 70s Rigo Tovar became very popular with his fusion of Cumbia with ballad and Rock.
Today Cumbia is played in many different ways, and has slight variations depending on the geographical area like Cumbia sonidera, Cumbia andina mexicana, Cumbia Norteña, Tecno-cumbia.
Some major exponents are Richard Lemus, Leo Acosta, Tino Contreras, Juan García Esquivel, Luis Ocadiz, J.J. Calatayud, Arturo Castro, Chilo Morán, Popo Sánchez, and Eugenio Toussaint. Antonio Sánchez is also a very well known jazz drummer from Mexico City.
Mexico has a long tradition of classical music, as far back as the 16th century, when it was a Spanish colony. Music of New Spain, especially that of Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla and Hernando Franco, is increasingly recognized as a significant contribution to New World culture.
Puebla was a significant center of music composition in the 17th century, as the city had considerable wealth and for a time was presided over by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who was an enthusiastic patron of music. Composers during this period included Bernardo de Peralta Escudero (mostly active around 1640), and also Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, who was the most famous composer of the 17th century in Mexico. The construction of the cathedral in Puebla made the composition and performance of polychoral music possible, especially compositions in the Venetian polychoral style. Late in the century, Miguel Matheo de Dallo y Lana set the verse of poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
In the 18th century, Manuel de Sumaya, maestro de capilla at the cathedral in Mexico City, wrote many cantadas and villancicos, and he was the first Mexican to compose an opera, La Partenope (1711). After him, Ignacio Jerusalem, an Italian-born composer, brought some of the latest operatic styles as well as early classical (galant) styles to Mexico. His best-known composition is probably the Matins for the Virgin of Guadalupe (1764). Jerusalem was maestro de capilla at the cathedral in Mexico City after Sumaya, from 1749 until his death in 1769.
In the 19th century the waltzes of Juventino Rosas achieved world recognition. Manuel M. Ponce is recognized as an important composer for the Spanish classical guitar, responsible for widening the repertoire for this instrument. Ponce also wrote a rich repertoire for solo piano, piano and ensembles, and piano and orchestra, developing the first period of modernistic nationalism, using Native American and European resources, but merging them into a new, original style.
In the 20th century, Carlos Chavez, is a notable composer who wrote symphonies, ballets, and a wide catalog of chamber music, within varied esthetic orientations. Another recognized composer is Silvestre Revueltas who wrote such pieces as The night of the mayas, Homenaje a García Lorca, Sensemayá based on a poem by Nicolas Guillen, and orchestral suites like Janitzio and Redes originally written for motion pictures. Jose Pablo Moncayo with compositions such as Huapango, and Blas Galindo with Sones de Mariachi, are also recognized as adapters of Mexican sons into symphonic music. A later contributor to this tradition, Arturo Márquez is also internationally known by his orchestral mastery and melodic vivacity.
In 1922, Julián Carrillo (violinist, composer, conductor, theoretician and inventor), created the first microtonal system in the history of classical music. During subsequent years, he also developed and constructed harps and pianos able to play music in fragments of tone, like fourths, sixths, eighths and sixteenths. His pianos are still manufactured in Germany and are used to play Carrillo's music, mainly in Europe and Mexico.
Another contemporary Mexican composer was Conlon Nancarrow (of American birth), who created a system to play pianola music, using and developing theories of politempo and polimetrics.
Some avant-garde composers leading Mexican music during the second half of the 20th century were Alicia Urreta, Manuel Enríquez, Mario Lavista and Julio Estrada. Some of them also contributed to the academic development of music teaching in American universities, a work also enriched by Daniel Catán, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Guillermo Galindo, Carlos Sandoval, Ignacio Baca-Lobera, Hebert Vázquez, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon and Samuel Zyman. In the other side of the Atlantic the composers of a new generation,** Javier Álvarez, Ana Lara, Víctor Rasgado, Juan Trigos, Hilda Paredes, Javier Torres Maldonado, Gabriel Pareyon, and Georgina Derbez, also have contributed to the academic and artistic life.
|Ensemble||Bowed Strings||Plucked Strings||Wood Winds||Brass Winds||Other Aerophones||Membranophone Percussion||Idiophone Percussion|
|Mariachi||violin||guitar, vihuela, guitarron||trumpet|
|Banda||clarinet, saxophone||tuba, trombone, trumpet||tambora, tarola||cymbals|
|Conjunto norteño||bajo sexto, double bass||saxophone||accordion||drums, tarola||redoba|
|Conjunto jarocho||requinto jarocho, jarana jarocha, leona, harp||pandero octagonal||marimbol, quijada, güiro|
|Conjunto huasteco||violin||huapanguera, jarana huasteca|
|Marimba orquesta||double bass||saxophone||drums||marimba, güiro|
|Conjunto calentano||violin||guitarra sexta, guitarra panzona, double bass||tamborita|
|Conjunto de arpa grande||violin||harp, guitar, vihuela, double bass|
|Jarana yucateca||double bass||clarinet, saxophone||trumpet, trombone||timpani||cymbals, güiro|
|Conjunto de son de tarima||vihuela, guitar||cajón de tapeo|
|Conjunto mixteco||violin||guitar, bajo quinto||cántaro|
|Trío romántico||guitar, guitarra requinto||maracas|
|Tamborileros de Tabasco||flauta de tres hoyos||tamboril, tamboril requinto|
|Orquesta típica||violin||bandolón, guitar, salterio||clarinet||snare drum|
|Flauta y Tamboril||flauta de tres hoyos||tambor de marco, tamborcito|
|Conjunto de Costa Chica||harmonica||friction drum||quijada|
|Tamborileros del norte||clarinet||tambora|
|Violín y tambora||violin||tambora|
|Prehispánico||ocarina, caracol, flauta de tres hoyos||huehuetl, tambor de u, kayum||teponaztli, ayoyotes, sonaja|