Mariachi, one of Mexico’s top cultural expressions
Learn everything you need to know of it
There is not one Mexican who doesn’t know mariachi music. Just a few guys who don’t sing along with the classic songs and a few others have dared to serenade their most beloved person. When the mariachi arrives at the party it’s time to enjoy the music, sing, dance, and drink a few tequila shots. Not all celebrations have mariachi, only the most special ones. Why is mariachi the quintessential Mexican symbol? Here we’ll tell you!
Cocula, Jalisco was the cradle of mariachi as we know it today and is the result of the cultural miscegenation that could only occur in Mexico due to the mixture of indigenous, Spanish, and African cultures. The mariachi music arose as an expression of adoration to the “Virgen de la Pila”, so it is an imitation of the music that the friars used for this purpose.
The sound that the friars used with guitars and violins was improved with other local instruments such as the conches, teponaztlis, flutes and other indigenous instruments. They were added for and extra spark, which originated what nowadays is best-known as the Mexican musical genre worldwide.
It was at the end of the 17th century when the natives created the vihuela and the guitarrón, which added personality and uniqueness to the genre. Yet, it was not until the 19th century when several mariachi groups, popular for playing at parties and celebrations in Cocula, began to arrive to Mexico City. However, it took a very important historical event for their popularity to catapult: the Mexican Revolution.
Before the Revolution, during the Porfiriato, a period named after Porfirio Diaz, the last Mexican Dictator who ruled from 1879 to 1911, the culture in Mexico had a fascination for everything French, so the mariachi was seen as something for the people instead of the elite. After the Mexican Revolution, this genre filled the new society with identity and reached all corners of the country, filling it with nationalist pride.
It was at the beginning of the 20th century when Cirilo Marmolejo’s mariachi introduced the charro costume as a “uniform”. It was so well accepted that the idea became popular and soon all mariachi groups were wearing charro suits. This same group was in charge of including the sound of the trumpet to their compositions.
Although, an element was still needed for the mariachi to be placed at the top of Mexican culture. This happened when president Lázaro Cárdenas went on his tour throughout the country in the company of Mariachi Vargas from Tecatitlán. The rest is history. Today, the mariachi reaches the whole world as the greatest cultural exponent of Mexico. Even in places as far as Japan and South Africa, you can find groups dedicated to playing mariachi songs, singing their versions in their local language.
Mexico is the proud creator of the mariachi!
Mariachi for Mexicans
When there is a mariachi at a party it means that it’s not just any celebration or casual gathering. The fact that the mariachi arrives means that it’s an important event that we will remember for many years. For Mexicans, every time the mariachi begins to play it means celebration, pride, passion, and nationalism.
Whether you feel excitement by singing “El Rey”, or remember an old lover by singing “Urge”, or simply dancing and having fun with “El Mariachi Loco”. The mariachi has a great variety of musical pieces that make us enter a very “Mexican” mindset in which the cries of Viva México and national pride vibrate on our skin and throat.
We love mariachi! And whoever denies it, it’s because they need a couple of tequilas to warm up and let their throat go loud.
How to enjoy mariachi?
If you are not from Mexico, here is a simple guide to enjoying mariachi like any Mexican. To begin with, if there is a Mexican at your party, the process will be easier because it’s already encoded in their DNA. If there isn’t one, prepare to be the honorary Mexican.
The first thing to do is identify at what point the party is at. If it’s very early and the mariachi arrives, there probably won’t be enough energy to enjoy it. On the contrary, if it’s too late, nobody will pay attention to it. We must find a middle ground where the guests are already dancing, active, and enjoying the party but the alcohol still doesn’t affect anyone too much.
The next thing is to start with the best songs. For this, just tell the mariachi your needs. Do you want songs for heartbreak or to dance, how about dedicating one to your loved one? Tell the mariachi the mood you’re in, they’ll take care of the rest.
Don’t forget to have tequila and maybe a beer. Legend has it that mariachi songs are recorded in tequila and once you drink it, the lyrics magically appear in your memory to sing with your soul.
On the other hand, if you are visiting Mexico and you want to live the experience, Xcaret and Xoximilco are two great places to enjoy the music. In Xoximilco you will live an authentic Mexican party, with tequila and delicious typical food. In addition, of course, the musical accompaniment of mariachi and other regional genres such as norteño, jarana, and more.
In Xcaret, you will find the mariachi performing popular songs to the sound of the guitar, the trumpet, the guitarrón, and all their classic instruments. Do not miss it in the Equestrian Show as well as in Xcaret México Espectacular presentation.
Have you heard about Mariachi? What did you hear? Tell us in the comment box!
Toma fotos, escribe y ve futbol. Apasionado de la sostenibilidad y fanático de que la vida lo sorprenda.