Latin / Mariachi
Mariachi Los Gallos
Latin / Mariachi
The mariachi is the sum of a cultural evolution which has taken place over the last century or so in Mexico.
ORIGINS. Professional musicians accompanied Hernán Cortés when he arrived in what is now Mexico in 1519. Among their instruments were the harp and the vihuela, prototypes of those later used by the mariachi. Natives, who had their own highly developed musical traditions, quickly mastered European musical practices. Many regional traditions of mestizo folk music, including that of the mariachi, resulted from the ensuing cultural and musical blending of indigenous and foreign elements.
The first recognized Mariachis in the 1800’s were only 3 to 4 piece groups. Instrumentation included Violins harp and a guitar variant. The harp was replaced by the Guitarron in the early 1900’s.
It was around 1912 when the trumpet was introduced but was quickly thrown out because it was thought to be loud and annoying. After trial and error, the trumpet began to show up again and made a stronger stand as professional musicians learned how to incorporate the louder instrument. In 1940 the trumpet was added for good and has become a major part of todays Mariachi.
Mariachi – What Does It Mean?
Musicologists and folklorists have argued for years over the origin of the word – Mariachi.
The original theory held that mariachi was derived from the French word for wedding – marriage, because of the type of music played at these events. The only problem with this theory is that the music originates in a part of Mexico the French never visited and, even if they had, it began before their arrival in 1864.
Another theory states that the word comes from the indigenous name of the Pilla or Cirimo tree, whose wood is used to make guitars. If this were true then the word mariachi would be applied to the instrument itself and not to those who play it.
It has also been suggested that the name comes from a festival in honor of a virgin known as Maria H. (Pronounced in Spanish - Maria AH-chay) at which musicians played and that over time they were given this name.
The truth is that no one knows where the name originated, but it is one which is associated with a great deal of prestige not only in Mexico, but around the world.