Mariachi Music Styles
Some people say that mariachi songs sound all the same but there are significant differences in rhythm and tone.
Just like any other genre of music, mariachi music has many variations; some of which has to do with the region of Mexico where it was established in or the era it became popular.
In this article you will learn about the different mariachi styles that have been around many years, such as corridos and rancheras (and its variations: Polka, vals and bolero).
Ready? Ok, let’s dig in…
The most traditional song type of mariachi music is the corrido. These songs are significant because they are made up of story-telling lyrics.
The song topics vary from a day in the life of a Mexican peasant to being in love with someone from far away.
These ballads can be inspired by moments in history or personal struggle to make it through another day. Corridos were a way of never forgetting the everyday hardships and learning from them.
Years ago they also served as a way of communicating.
Flyers with stories made their way into poetic rhymes and lyrics put to a melody that was cultured by locals.
For example, “El Caballo Blanco” composed by famous Mexican singer-songwriter Jose Alfredo Jimenez is just one of 1000s of songs he wrote which tells an emotional story.
It is a story about a horse. That’s right, a white horse.
But years ago, your horse was your most cherished possession and you treasured it.
The song goes on to explain the journey this horse takes from the city of Guanajuato through many other pueblos north of there, and finally gets to its destination and dies.
So one might wonder if the song is about a horse or about the struggles one must encounter to get to one’s destination.
The next type closest related to the corrido is the ranchera. Ranchera music evolved from the years of the Mexican Revolution.
These songs are about defeating enemies and conquering with strength and courage. They motivated soldiers and expressed confidence in embracing your roots.
The ranchera is still a very popular style of music. One of the most famous singers and many times called the “king of ranchera music” is Vicente Fernandez.
He has recorded over 50 albums and his biggest hit “Volver, Volver” was a groundbreaking accomplishment. His deep tone gives the lyrics even more emphasis from the heart.
While Vicente Fernandez made his mark starting in movies, his voice and style stand alone.
Ranchera music has three other parts to it which are differentiated by tempo: Polka, Vals and Bolero. Each of these have a background related to ranchera music.
Polkas are more upbeat in rhythm and originated in northern Mexico when Polish immigrants settled in Sinaloa. This faster tempo of ranchera music became popular during the Mexican revolution.
Other instruments like the accordion can be incorporated to create this tempo.
The vals (Spanish word for Waltz) has been around for many years and has been used in celebrations of all cultural backgrounds.
For example, “Las Mañanitas” (as you can see in the video below) is not just a birthday song, but a vals.
If you’ve ever attended a wedding or quinceañera reception, you’ve probably heard a vals.
Most of the time, the first dance is a vals in which the couple can dance front and center. The last is what gets people’s hearts pumping and eyes to tear up.
The bolero is a true love song. Its lyrics are enriched with the heart and soul of someone in love.
The soft, emotional and romantic melody will have you swaying in no time.
You can almost picture a woman looking down from her balcony to a mariachi group serenading her from below. Boleros are full of romance.
In this next video, you can listen to Javier Solis sing one of the all time favorite boleros, “Gema”.
As you can see, mariachi music has been around for many years and has evolved to gain a greater collection of fans from different cultures.
Mariachis have been able to gather particular aspects of the musical industry and have developed it with time. This has made mariachi music a very popular request for various special occasions.
Mariachis are sure to make your next special event one to remember always.