When people think about mariachis, most likely the first thing that pops into their mind is…
lively and entertaining music, intense dancing, emotional screaming… and yes… tequila!
But I’m sure there are a few interesting things you probably didn’t know about them…
Well, in this article I’m going to list some unusual facts about mariachis.
Hope you enjoy it!
1. Origins of the name
There is some dispute over where the name “mariachi” came from. Although the common explanation is that it came from the French word for marriage, “mariage”.
However, the word mariachi is more likely the name of the wood from which the dance platform was made — back in the early days.
Yet others claim that it came from an image, locally called “Maria H”, pronounced “mari-ache”.
2. Origins of the instruments
The music was originally played with drums, flutes, rattles and conch-shell horns.
The Spanish introduced guitars, harps, brass, and woodwinds, which replaced the original instruments.
Mariachis were encouraged to do so as those that could play the instruments were able to play for more money at the haciendas.
3. Instruments were used at Church only
The Spanish instruments were originally used during Mass. However, they were soon adopted for non-religious events.
Even today mariachi bands are best known for playing family events such as marriages, graduations and quinceañeras.
4. “Son Jalisciense” is the correct way to describe mariachi music
“Mariachi” is actually an alternative name for the music.
It is properly called “Son Jalisciense”, as the music is thought to have originated from Cocula, Jalisco. Even today, Jalisco produces some of the best mariachi bands.
5. Mariachi outfit: an invention of the modern era
The original outfit was a standard peasant outfit of white pants and shirt.
Urban mariachis started modifying their wardrobe in the 1920’s. It then evolved into the charro outfit used by modern bands.
The movies of the 1930′s also had a huge influence. It encouraged a flashy appearance that would become the style that we are familiar with today.
6. Plaza Garibaldi and its beginnings
Eventually the haciendas would need to let their workers go, and this included mariachi bands.
This made them play in more public spaces, with some bands becoming semi-professional.
A number of bands would follow the workers and eventually would settle around Plaza Garibaldi.
Although 2500 bands are licensed to play there, 4000 bands can filter through on a weekend.
7. Jarabe dance and mariachi
Dancing has always been an important part of the music.
Two important parts of that are the various types of jarabe. Such as the jarabe tapatio, or “sombrero hat dance”, as well as the zapateado, a dance that provides the rhythm for the music.
8. Mariachi is now included in the U.S. school system
Mariachi has found itself into a number of school programs, both from elementary school to university music programs.
There are over 500 programs nationwide, and mariachi programs have replaced regular band programs in some areas.
9. Mariachi is part of UNESCO
Mariachi is listed as an one of seven on a list of Intangible Cultural Heritages by UNESCO.
According to the UNESCO site, Intangible Cultural Heritages is also known as ‘living heritage’, which…
refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills transmitted by communities from generation to generation.
Therefore, marking mariachi’s importance to not only Mexico but the world in general.
10. Mariachis have no lead singers
Unlike other types of music, mariachis do not have lead singers.
Each person is assigned to a different song based on their talents and personality.
The singer must not only be clear, but also loud as he is singing above the instruments as well.
Maybe (or maybe not) you knew of some of these interesting facts about mariachis. But I hope you enjoyed it anyways.
Do you know of any other unusual facts about mariachis? If you do, please let me know in the comments below. I will continue to update this list.