Celebrating Mariachi

Celebrating Mariachi

Tara A. Spears

of all Mexico. There is great national pride in preserving the image of these singing heroes.

The month long Guadalajara music and arts festival is a must-see event that promises to be spectacular. The International Mariachi Festival of Guadalajara is a ten day gala event featuring Catholic masses where Mariachis perform in the churches and cathedrals, numerous parades with hundreds of Mariachi floats and folk ballet artists are staged, rodeos are held, art exhibits are offered up on every corner, and most importantly, the world’s largest Mariachi competition is staged at the beautiful Benito Juarez Theatre. Many city parks host free mariachi concerts and will have ubiquitous street vendors with delicious traditional Mexican cuisine.

According to the Mariachi Festival organization, “Mariachi has evolved considerably since the Spanish arrived in Cocula in 1532. Traditional Mariachis got their inspiration from a time when peasant farmers entertained themselves after a hard day work of harvesting corn. It was not the preferred music of the hacienda owners who were influenced by European styles of music.

All of Jalisco, especially in Guadalajara, celebrate the birthday of mariachi music during the month of September in a big way! Mariachi music goes beyond entertainment; it embodies the unique Mexican culture, spirit, and traditions. Originating in Jalisco, this popular grassroots music encompasses the essence

but Mariachi was a music of the people; rustic and folksy.” The Mariachi music of today still contains many of the original elements, such as the famous Mexican grito (cry).

Traditional Mariachi originally featured three instruments, the violin, vihuela (a five string guitar) and a traditional six string guitar. The groups that played them were typically quartets. Later on, as the music grew in popularity, trumpets and basses were added as well as the elaborate and colorful costumes.

Today, as in the original songs created by rural mariachi bands, songs encompassed the very deep and passionate soul of the Mexican people; singing about everyday topics such as love and politics to death and revolutionary heroes. The Mariachis songs have always told the true stories of the Mexican people.

Visitors and festival-goers can also view a display of Mariachi-inspired art at the Regional Museum. Take time to check out the activities at the downtown headquarters, the Cabanas Cultural Institute, site of numerous workshops and featuring a marketplace for hand-crafted items designed for discerning Mariachi musicians and their cultural cousins, the “charros,” or cowboys of western Mexico.

Besides the haunting, lively melodies and spirited dances that comprise mariachi music, the singing style is unique. Everyone in the ensemble contributes even if it is just during the chorus parts. It is common practice to try to match the voice with the type of song that is being performed so that the emotion of the piece is conveyed in the most artistic way possible. The spirit of Mariachi music often calls for vocalizations such as loud shouting, whistling or tirando un grito, a scream-like sound used to imitate laughing or crying. The bolero sones (love song) is a romantic style with a soft touch and suave voice; the huapango, which usually has a lot of falsetto with flipping between singing registers; and the son jalisiense (Jalisco style song), which utilizes an aggressive style of vocalization. It is impossible not to be moved by mariachi music.

Experiencing any of the concerts during September is an unforgettable experience and well worth the trip to Guadalajara. You can obtain a schedule of events by telephone: 52 333 880 9090 or by email: [email protected]