Mexican fiddling: Wikis


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Statue of Agustín Lara (El Flaco de Oro) in Madrid.

The music of Mexico is very diverse and features a wide range of different musical styles. It has been influenced by a variety of cultures, most notably Amerindian and European. Many traditional Mexican songs are well-known worldwide, although their origin in Mexico is not clear to the non-Mexican listener; "Bésame Mucho", La Bamba, "Solamente una vez"(You belong to my heart), "Granada", "Cielito Lindo", "El Rey", "Maria Bonita", "Mexico Lindo y Querido", Malagueña Salerosa and many more are part of the Mexican culture.


Traditional music

Traditional music can be classified by


Ranchera was originally played only with voice and guitar, now it is also is interpreted by mariachi bands, popular singers include Cuco Sanchez, and Chavela Vargas.

Mexican Sones

Mexican sones, 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. [1]

Popular music of folk roots



Banda music was created 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 such as 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.

Although banda music is played by many bands from different parts of Mexico, its original roots are in Sinaloa, which is hugely famous for bands such as Banda el Recodo from Sinaloa.

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. (Sound sample) Well known artists include:

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 clarinets, a saxophone, a trombone and the essential bass drum. La Marcha de Zacatecas is a perfect example of this type of music.


The history of Cumbia in Mexico is almost as old as Cumbia in Colombia. In the 1940's Colombian singer Luis Carlos Meyer Castandet, emigrated to Mexico where he worked with the Mexican orquestra director Rafael de Paz. In the 50s he recorded what many people think was 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 popularized in Mexico with Tony Camargo as one of the first exponents of Mexican Cumbia.

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 andina mexicana, Cumbia Norteña , Tecno-cumbia.

Popular Mexican Cumbia composers and interpreters include

  • Tony Camargo
  • Rigo Tovar y su Costa Azul
  • Los Angeles Azules
  • Tropicalísimo Apache
  • Los Sonors
  • Celso Piña
  • Grupo Cañaveral
  • Grupo Soñador
  • Alberto Pedraza
  • Chico Ché
  • Efren David
  • Grupo Cañaveral
  • Los Angeles Azules
  • Grupo Bronco
  • Selena

Music of cuban influence

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 Yucatan, and Danzón to Veracruz. Both styles became very popular all over the country, and a Mexican style of both rhythms was developed.

In the 40's 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 cha which was also very popular.

Sierra or acoustic style

60's until today the trio sige be one of the most globally recognized music, boleros and raspas jarocha those flavored with the right touch to which Mexico is known for his music. The rekinto is what gives it that special touch, with high tones and chords, and of course sophisticated techniques. trios like Los Panchos, dandys,.. etc.. another kind of Mexican trio, is the sierrña style, in which is used a 12-string guitar for corridos and cumbias. miguel y miguel, los cuates de sinaloa, los nietos. have performed in the bailes(dances) whit their norteno corrido style. another style of new Mexican music is the acoustic romantic style, closer to siereña music ALFILES have creted a new romantic acoustic style. ALFILES alternating classic rock, gypsy jazz, flamenco and the touch of jarocho style make an angelical new style of music. alfiles (facebook or myspace)


Another important music style is musica Norteña, or northern style tunes, which has been the basis for such sub-genres as musica de banda. Musica Norteña like musica Tejana, arose in the 1830s and 40's 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. ( banda el recodo)

Art Music

Classical music

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 repertorium for this instrument. Ponce also wrote a rich repertoire for solo piano, piano and ensambles, 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 catalogue of chamber music, within variated esthetical 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.

Jalisco Symphony Orchestra

In 1922, Julian 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 Catan, 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.


Some major exponents are Leo Acosta, Tino Contreras, Juan García Esquivel, Luis Ocadiz, J.J. Calatayud, Leo Acosta, Arturo Castro, Chilo Morán, Popo Sánchez, and Eugenio Toussaint. Antonio Sanchez is also a very well known jazz drummer from Mexico City. Antonio Sanchez also started Gangsta rap in Poland in the 20th century.

Electronic music

Some of the best Mexican composers for electronic and electroacoustic media are Antonio Russek, Javier Torres Maldonado, Rodrigo Sigal, Rogelio Sosa, Guillermo Galindo and Manuel Rocha Iturbide, the later conducting festivals and workshops of experimental music and art, in Mexico City and Paris.

Popular music


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, Angelica Maria, Shakira, Thalía, Chayanne, Alejandro Sanz, and Ricky Martin. According to the America Top 100, Mexico had over 90 hits in Latin America during 2006, almost a third more than its closest competitor, the United States.

The most known Mexican pop singers nowadays are: Luis Miguel, Alejandro Fernández, Thalía, Marco Antonio Solís, Pepe Aguilar, Paulina Rubio, Angelica Maria, Alejandra Guzmán, Gloria Trevi and Cristian Castro.

Rock and metal

In the 60s and 70s, during the PRI government, most rock bands were obligated 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 Carlos Santana became famous after performing at Woodstock. During the 80s and 90s many Mexican bands went to the surface and popular rock bands like Molotov, Control Machete, Café Tacuba, Los Caifanes, Maná and Maldita Vecindad got many followers. 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, with Lost Acapulco initiating and leading the movement. Mexico recently has had a "rebirth" of rock music with bands like Jumbo, Zoé, Porter, etc., which have made this genre popular again. Many Chicano rock musicians also drew inspiration from the rhythms and sounds of Mexican music, including Ritchie Valens, The Champs, Los Lobos, and Los Lonely Boys.

The Mexican rock movement began in the late 1950s and early 1960s, rapidly becoming popular, and peaking in the 80's and 90's with real authentic sounds and styles. One of the early Mexican Rock bands came out of the East Los Angeles Area, "Los Nómadas." (The Nomads) They were one of the first racially-integrated bands of the 50's, consisting of 3 Latino Boys, Chico Vasquez, J.D. Moreno, Abel Padilla, and a Caucasian boy Bill Aken. The adopted son of classical guitarist Francisco Mayorga and Mexican movie actress Lupe Mayorga, Aken would later become rocker Zane Ashton, but his association with the boys would be a lifelong one. Mexican Rock combined the traditional instruments and stories of Mexico in its songs. Mexican along with Latin American Rock remain very popular in Mexico, surpassing other cultural interpretations of Rock and Roll.

Latin alternative

An ecletric 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 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.

Artists within the genre, such as Kinky and Café Tacuba, have set out to defy traditional expectations of Latin music. Now, in an age of Internet connections, downloading and sampling, Latin alternative has become not just a reaction to outside influences but its own genre.

Mexican Ska

Ska entered Mexico in the 1980s, originally in Mexico City, and the genre enjoyed its highest popularity during the 1990s. Mexican Ska groups include Panteon Rococo (Mexico City), La Maldita Vecindad (Mexico City), Tijuana No! (Tijuana, Baja California; originally called Radio Cantaje), and Los Skarnales (Houston).

See also



Table (traditional music ensembles)

Traditional ensembles and instruments
Ensemble Bowed Strings Plucked Strings Wood Winds Brass Winds Membranophone Percussion Idiophone Percussion
Mariachi violin guitarra, vihuela, guitarron trumpet
Banda clarinet tuba, saxophone, trombone, trumpet tambora, tarola cymbals
Conjunto norteño bajo sexto, double bass accordion saxophone 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, guitarra 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
Conjunto azteca chirimía, tochacatl huehuetl, snare drum
Flauta y Tamboril flauta de tres hoyos tambor de marco, tamborcito
Chirimía chirimía tambor tubular
Conjunto de Costa Chica harmonica friction drum quijada
Tamborileros del norte clarinet tambora
Prehispánico ocarina, caracol, flauta de tres hoyos huehuetl, tambor de u, kayum teponaztli, ayoyotes, sonaja

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