Last updated: July 25, 2019
Topic: ArtMovies
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Mexican Music

Introduction

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Music had always been the food for soul. Every country’s culture is enriched with music and other forms of art. This report covers the Mexican music, the historical development, the cultural importance and the different eras of Mexican music, the founders and their contribution and in the last, the modern Mexican music.

 

The development of Mexican music:

By the phrase “Mexican music” we mean the Indian music of the ancient Mexicans; the music of Spanish or other origin implanted in Mexico, and, finally, the production in Mexico of a mixture of these elements. The Indian branch and the Spanish branch differ in that Indian music from the Conquest on remained static, while Spanish music has undergone constant evolution.

The Indian music best preserving its purity is not what remains of Aztec culture, but that of more or less primitive or nomad tribes which never, properly speaking, achieved a culture. Such are the Yaquis, the Seris, and the Huicholes. (Villarino pp. 219-223)

The qualities of Mexican music does not depend on its proportion of Indian and Spanish ancestry, but on the existence of many new, local factors–historical, geographic, and ethnic circumstances which work directly on the artistic phenomenon. Mexican music engulfs a number of musical styles like the Mariachi, Salsa and the Norteno etcetera. (Weinstock pp. 112-118) The music that is seen now in the Mexican culture dates back to the 16th century when the Aztec culture was seen in full swing, a culture which had complex musical tradition. For almost 200 hundred years, Mexico lived under the influence of Spain. And so the classical and the folk music that is now seen in today’s Mexican music have been derived from these traditions.

The Spanish people also used slaves from Africa thus adding another taste to the music of Mexico. Mexican son was the first to step in the 17th century. It is a mixture of Spanish and African traditional music. In Mexico the music varies from region to region, in context to rhythm a well as the instruments used to produce the soothing tunes.  Some of them include: son jarocho from the area around Vera Cruz, son jaliscenses from Jalisco, son huasteco, son calentano, son michoacano etcetera. Ranchera existence was seen in the mid of the 19th century just before the Mexican revolution took place. It is one of he branches of son jaliscenses. A type of song which was sung on the Mexican Ranch, the rhythm and the song itself carried out the love, patriotic and natures theme.

Another most interesting thing that comes across the Mexican music is the Mariachi. Many people misunderstand it and think it is some kind of song but actually it is a band or group of musicians. The origin of its name remains a mystery as some think it has been derived fro the work marriage while others think that it has been derived from a Coca-Indian word which actually refers to the platform on which the orchestra uses to perform.

Coming towards what the band is composed of, so it consist of two violins, two trumpets, a Spanish guitar and two other types of guitars – the vilhuela and Guitarron. These two types of music were originally associated with love and romance but as the economic conditions of Mexico were getting worse, the band was left with no choice rather then to get detached. Due to unemployment and tough time, they changed the themes and they began singing revolutionary and heroic or current issues that were going on at that time.

In the 1950’s trumpets were introduced to the orchestra., nowadays what the Mariachi band is seen using is this instrument which was discovered in the 50’s to make the music experience even more entertaining not only for the musician but also for the audience. Today, there are many modern forms of Mexican music. Widely popular country music includes Norteño, Banda, and Duranguense bands; they play Rancheras, Corridos and Cumbia. Spanish rock, hip-hop and electronic music are other modern forms popular among the Mexicans.

 

Music in the ninteenth and twentieth centurues in Mexico

Although the center of musical life in Mexico at the end of the eighteenth century remained Mexico City, important provincial cities such as Puebla, Guadalajara, Durango, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Morelia and others also boasted of an advanced musical life. Settlements as far away from the capital as Alta California and Santa Fe to the north and Merida de Yucatan to the south developed a strong European-based musical life in addition to maintaining strong indigenous musical traditions. (Chavez pp. 128-131)

The main Mexican musical centers kept in frequent touch with artistic developments in Europe, especially those in Spain, Italy, and France. Likewise, the periphery kept in touch through the center. Organized sacred and secular art music activities around 1800 remained principally sited in the cathedrals, collegiate and parish churches, monasteries and convents, public theaters, the vice regal court, and the salons of the upper class and aristocracy. Informal music making existed everywhere. (Villarino pp. 56-59) Until at least 1821 and Independence, except for periods of serious political upheaval, Mexican musical life, based on the European models first established in the sixteenth century, remained essentially unchanged.

After 1821, however, changes in social and political life gradually shifted the institutions of musical patronage and learning from the church and vice regal court and its appendages to an increasingly independent public musical and theatrical establishment supported primarily by the middle and upper classes, and governmental officials and agencies. The church’s influence on musical life lessened as the century progressed. Before Independence from Spain, music was cultivated to a level of accomplishment in the principal Mexican cities and towns in a manner far superior to that of any settlement in British North America. After Independence, Mexico City maintained a high level of artistic quality in its musical life, certainly on par with New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Boston or Havana.

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Music education in Mexico

During the colonial period the church assumed the major role in the area of formal music education. The schools attached to cathedral foundations provided education in music theory, performance, and composition for boys and men. The religious orders, male and female, also provided for music instruction, in female and male conventual’s houses and in educational establishments for the laity such as the colegios. An important early musical establishment was the Colegio de las Rosas in Morelia, a well-established music school for girls founded during the colonial period. Music also was performed in and under the sponsorship of the Real y Pontificia Universidad de Mixico. While music instruction in these locations continued after Independence, secular institutions for music education were established beginning in the 1820s, which over time would result in the formation of a professional conservatory system in Mexico. (Chavez pp.24-25)

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Keyboard instruments used in Mexico

The piano became the keyboard instrument of choice for the salon and home only toward the end of the viceroyalty; harpsichords and clavichords were used before that time. The keyboard music of Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Muzio Clementi, and other classical-era composers was imported and sold to amateur and professional musicians. This music was played on pianos that were imported from Europe, and, from at least the 1790s, increasingly were made in Mexico. Piano manufacturers worked in Durango as early as 1793 and in Mexico City from at least 1796. However, the price for imported and domestic pianos was extremely high at the end of the colonial period. As the century progressed, Mexican instrument makers produced more pianos and at a cheaper price. The principal music dealers imported pianos of all price ranges

from Europe and the United States. These advances in instrument manufacturing and distribution brought pianos within the reach of the middle class. By the time of the Porfiriato, the piano was nearly as common in middle- and upper-class homes as it was in Europe and the United States.

An avalanche of instrumental salon pieces, primarily for piano, inundated Mexican “polite” society in the capital and throughout the republic during the second half of the century. Operatic paraphrases, operatic potpourris, selections from Spanish and Mexican zarzuelas, and lyric songs with piano accompaniment in Spanish and Italian with Italianate melodies were performed frequently in private salons and public concerts halls throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth by resident and touring musicians. (Burr pp. 156-159)

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Types of Mexican music

Norteno

It is a genre of Mexican music. The accordion and the bajo sexto are norteño’s most characteristic instruments. This genre of music is extremely popular in Mexico among the Mexican community. Though originating from rural areas, norteño is highly popular in urban as well as rural areas. Some of the most popular norteño artists include Los Tigres del Norte, Ramón Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte, Los Rieleros del Norte, Esteban Jordan, Los Gavilanes, Carlos y Jose, Los Alegres de Terán, Los Huracanes del Norte and Los Tucanes De Tijuana. It is another form of the waltz, polka, and country music.
Mariachi

It is described as an ensemble band of five or nine people that wear the traditional costume of a Mexican cowboy. This is fun to listen to and many people consider mariachi to be the music that best represents Mexican culture. Mariachi is Mexican folk music and distinguished from other types by instruments, attire and the songs.

Salsa

The Salsa is a fast type of music that everyone loves and is played at most Fiestas. With this type of music everyone dances to it since the music is so easy to move with.
Famous Mexican Musicians

Carlos Chávez

He was the most important Mexican composer of the twentieth century. He was known for seven symphonies like, the ballets La hija de Colquide and Toxcatl. He was a composer who generally did not follow trends and fared better in orchestra or instrumental music.

Alejandro Fernandez

He was the son of one of Mexico’s best artist, Vicente Fernandez. He made his first appearance at the age of three, where he interpreted Alejandra before a ten thousand people audience. In 2002, the National Institution of High Arts paid tribute to the most remarkable twentieth Century Mexican Musician with a double record titled un Canto a Mexico Con Alejandro Fernandez. Alejandro was once again signaled as the most perfect figure to represent Mexican Culture, due to his presence and extraordinary vocal gifts.

Alejandro released his first album in December 1992, called Alejandro Fernandez in which his skills were evident. In 1993, he performed with his father, Vicente Fernandez. In 1994 he released another album called Grandes Exitos a la Manera de Alejandro Fernandez with interpretations of song by great authors. Que Seas Muy Feliz was released in 1995, with the song Como quien pierde una estrella a big hit on local radio stations and the first success of his career.

Pascual Antonio Aguilar Barraza

He was a Mexican singer, actor, producer and writer. During his career, he made over 150 albums, which sold 25 million copies, and made 150 movies. Antonio Aguilar began his recording career in 1950. He was known for his corridos with some of his best known songs including Gabino Barrera, Caballo Prieto Azabache and Albur de Amor. He was also responsible for the renewed popularity of the tambora music in the mid 1980s.

Arturo Márquez

Arturo Marquez was born in Alamos, Sonora-Mexico in 1950. He studied music at the Conservatory of Music of Mexico. He has received numerous grants and awards from the Mexican and French governments. Arturo’s music has been performed and recorded worldwide by a variety of chamber ensembles, symphony orchestras and soloists. He has composed numerous scores for film and dance works.

Jose Pablo Moncayo

Mexican composer Jose Pablo started out as a Jazz pianist, but ended up conducting Mexico’s National Symphony Orchestra. Huapango, written in 1941. It is probably his best known work, and is based on three Mexican folk songs. While the piece might not have a huge amount of musical substance, the Mexican rhythms and colorful orchestration make it a perpetual crowd pleaser.

Carlos Jiménez Mabarak

He was accepted as the first Mexican composer that realized a piece on tape, El paraíso de los ahogados in 1960. He also composed, La llorona, ballet music for small orchestra, electronic oscillator, timpanis, percussions, piano and strings in 1961.

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Mexican musical bands

Following are the Mexico’s musical bands, which gained popularity among the Mexican community. They were liked and praised to such an extent that people actually gave them different titles.

1-El Mariachi- From town square gazebos to concert halls

2-Wind Bands- A Military Legacy

3- El Conjunto Norteño- Modern Mexico

4- String Ensembles- The Mexican Soul

5- Indigenous Music- Modern Expressions of a Past, Faded Glory

All these bands were given particular names because of their rhythms and the type of songs and music they use to play.

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Music in Mexican culture:

Mexico geographical location is diverse thus bringing in various forms of music from all different regions. It is a culture which has got the blend of Native American as well as the Spanish colonial traditions. In the 16th century long before the invasion of the Spaniards, the Mexicans had developed their art such as music, dance, sculpture and pottery etcetera. Today, the old Spain influence is very much prevalent in many parts of Mexico. Mexican culture is, of course ever-evolving with the country’s complex history and diverse population reflected in every facet of contemporary life.

By the 1930s, Mexican regional son began to flourish, bringing in the unique flavors of each province. What distinguishes each of these is generally the treatment of the text that is the poetry and its structure around the music and the instrumentation. In the southern states such as Oaxaca, the marimba of African origin is an important fixture in what is known as son istmeño as well as the large brass band called banda, this was the result of the Spanish municipal bands of European tradition.

Music and dance were affected by the European and indigenous currents that influenced other parts of art like painting and literature. The Ballet Folklórico de México, a folk-dance group based in Mexico City, has integrated folk music with classical music. The group now takes tours of the world and works to preserve the authentic folk dance in Mexico.

Music seems to be an important part of Mexican culture as in today it has gained much acceptance and popularity that the city has its own concert hall called the Sala Silvestre Revueltas. The state also owns a music venue which is the biggest music and entertainment forum in the Mexico City. The most traditional and typical Mexican music is the mariachi which includes the violinists, trumpets, guitarist and a singer peddling their tunes. The different forms and styles of Mexican music depict the culture surrounding the city. Each one of them, unveiling different cultural colors of Mexico.

Among all the styles of Mexican music the marimba conjures vibes of old Mexico. A marimba is a percussion instrument associated with folk music. It has several keys which are struck by mallets in order to produce sound. Southern Mexican folk music is centered around the marimba,

this remains popular in Chiapas and Oaxaca. In yucatan the traditional jarana music and dance is popular.

The best-known Mexican genre by far is rancher. This style of traditional Mexican song is considered old-fashioned, but respected, traditional music and is usually listened to as much as modern music. Other new styles such as cumbia, pop, and rock have seen increased popularity as the music of Mexico faces a new generation of young people.

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Music to keep culture alive

While the Mexican revolution has long since passed, the struggle to save the Hispanic heritage is still on. This time savers came with music to defend and keep alive the culture of Mexico. In order to do so the mariachi music is functional in terms of keeping culture alive. Where there is a culture which is enriched with all the colors of life as well as a flourishing too, one has to keep struggling to keep the true essence of that particular culture alive so as it feels good about itself. As well as the citizen also feels proud of it too. Mariachi music is stepping forward in this struggle to show that it is the symbol of Mexican culture. The youngsters can play important role in this regard. The reason why the young generation can help revive the culture is this that music is very much liked and adored by the young generation and as far as mariachi is concerned it is even more fun to listen to, many people consider mariachi to be the music that best represents Mexican culture.

Mariachi is Mexican Folk Music and distinguished from other types of music by the instruments, attire and the songs themselves. The rhythmic pattern is the one that distinguishes mariachi music from the rest of the musical styles. It is an alteration between 3/4 and 6/8 with heavy syncopation. Trumpets and violins make extensive use of grace notes. Lyrics, for the most part, are humorous.

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Mexican music industry today

Music is an important part of Mexican culture.  The Indians used drums, flutes, rattles and seashells, with their voices to produce music.  Folk music is also popular in Mexico.  This music tells stories about the struggle of the people.  Today, mariachis perform in restaurants and along the streets.  Mariachi groups usually contain singers, guitar players, trumpet players and violinists.

In today’s time the Mexican music industry is under threat probably because of the piracy. People are inclined towards buying pirated CD’s of the artist due to which there is a considerable decline in the rise of music industry in the City of Mexico.

The mexico’s music industry growth is slowed down infact it is melting and loosing its ground in the city. Mexican artists and record companies have developed a US$666 million music business that ranks eighth in the world, but the industry’s future is now under threat because of towering levels of music piracy.

The industry welcomed a recent improvement in Mexico’s anti-piracy law and the measures are taken this year to strengthen the resources of the Attorney General’s office. These encouraging and hopeful moves need to be followed up with decisive anti-piracy enforcement actions. Their activities are illegal, deprive the state of tax revenues and generate other forms of crime.

The music industry of Mexico has taken stern actions to avoid such acts by means of which the the industry can get into great troubles and might loose its charm, rank and position around the globe.

The reason which seems visible is the purchase of pirated versions that are being widely availble for public’s use. These CD’s seem to be avaible at cheaper rates and that’s why people are opting for it. Unauthorized downloads are a global challenge for the music industry. The problem seems to become particularly more serious in Mexico, where intellectual property laws don’t punish file-sharing and so an increasing number of people are getting the broadband internet connections that make it easier to download content at high speeds. Mexico today is a pirate’s refuge. This might be another contributing factor for discouraging the concert halls being set for music and entertainment by the state for the people in order to help boost music in the country. This has made life easy for other but quite difficult for the music industry as well as the other musical bands which use to give their performances publicly and people use to love them and praise them for their music as well as their dance performance.

Mexican music which is heard on streets, in concert halls, has its own charm, charisma and the magic of music that floats from the instruments and directly hit the mind and heart and refreshes it in an instant and not every music has this power to do so. The citizens should try to revive the old, traditional music so that it does not loose its taste and thus become immortal.

 

Conclusion

The overall review on mexican music depicts how important performing art is and to what extent it has become a part of mexico’s culture. We learnt about different types of mexican music, their origin, impact, rhythms, the instrument they are played with and lots more. We also discovered the history of mexican music how it came into existence and how many colors and influences it underwent to stand apart and makes it own recognition and get acceptance as well as  popularity within as well as outside the City of Mexico.

We also dicussed the music education given in mexico as well as the instruments used in creating meodic tunes and distinguised rhythms from them. It has also named the traditional and classical folk music which is widely listened and praised in mexico.The report dicusses the famous and well-known musicians, composers, guitarist etcetera who made their contributions towards the Mexican music to enliven it with true colors of music. Apart from this it has also revealed the famous and popular bands in the Mexico City named after the type of songs and music they use to compose or sing in the public. It has also highlighted the importance of music in context to the cultural value of the Mexico City. To what extent music is seen in the cultural roots of the city. The report also reveals which music style is the symbol of the culture of Mexico. In short it is a summary about the Mexican music and its importance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Burr, Ramiro. Tejano and Regional Mexican Music. Walnut Creek, CA: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1999.

Ober, Hal, and Carol Ober. How Music Came to the World: An Ancient Mexican Myth. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

 

Chavez, Carlos. Mexican Music; as Part of the Exhibition: Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art. New York: NY MOMA, 1986.

 

Weinstock, Herbert. Mexican Music. Los Angeles, CA: A&M University Press, 1940.

 

Villarino, Jose. Mexican Chicano Music. New York: McGraw-Hill Primis Custom Publishing, 1999.