Latinx music is as varied and charismatic as the people it comes from. We’re choosing to focus on Mexico. Being one of the largest Latinx countries, Mexico boasts a lot of different musical groups, such as Banda and Tamboraso, but Mariachi is one of the country’s oldest forms of folk music. With origins in the 18th century, Mariachi began as a blend of traditional indigenous music that was used for religious celebrations with instruments from the Spanish colonizers.
Mariachi bands consist of different combinations of guitars, vihuelas, guitarrónes, violins, flutes, trumpets and harps. Traditionally, the musicians also double as the choir, with members taking turns to sing the lead in a song.
While the overall music is called Mariachi, the songs cover a wide variety of genres such as Polka, Boleros, Rancheras and Huapangos. There are songs of celebration, like Las Mañanitas and En Tu Día. Some deal with heartbreak, such as Volver, Volver and Amor Eterno. Others are just meant for dancing zapateado or folklorico, like El Jarabe Tapatio and La Culebra.
There are established songs which are traditional for Mariachis to perform, such as El Rey, Las Golondrinas and La Negra. Mariachis play to their audience and have been known to ask the crowd for suggestions. Crowds may be different, but they must always be ready to play the favorites. Historically, much of the music was not written down officially but instead passed down from generation to generation. Even sheet music today is intended to be used more like a guide rather than as a strict score, to allow for interpretation.
In present day, Mariachi music has become a popular form of entertainment. There are competitions around the U.S. and Mexico for Mariachi groups to show off their skills. Mariachi are also hired to perform Serenatas (serenades) for loved ones and have also become a part of Catholic ceremonies.
Some of the biggest Mexican music stars pay tribute to the music of their roots by releasing their covers of traditional Mariachi songs. In the U.S., Mariachi music is developing its own twist. While the traditional songs are still played, there are up-and-coming specialities as well. Metalachi bands cover honored Metal songs while others focus on adapting pop and video game music into a traditional Mariachi style.
“My family is from Guatemala, so I didn’t start playing this kind of music until my junior year of high school. However, even though I didn’t grow up with it, I still love playing Mariachi music. It’s such a fun style of music, and I love seeing the crowd join in and enjoy themselves. Everyone gets to have fun, from the musicians singing and dancing on stage to the people joining them from their seats. It’s less like a performance for an audience and more like a celebration with friends,” Carla Aguilar Jerez ’19 said.
Mariachi de Güesli hopes to bring this wonderful tradition to Wellesley. We meet every Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. in Jewett 218 and invite you all to join us in playing this wonderfully fun music.