Mariachi: Now and Then

By  Marisol Canales

In honor of Mariachi Girl making its debut on the Austin stage, the blogging team presents you with an inside look at the development of Mariachi culture. We trace the development of the iconic style of music from its roots to how it’s bled into pop culture. Enjoy!

“Ay, ay, ay, ay! Canta y no llores!” Written back in 1882, the popular Mariachi song, “Cielito Lindo” has endured as a Mexican favorite for centuries. It carries the passion behind the origination of Mariachi music – love, triumphs, hardships, and happiness.

Modern Mariachi music traces back to Jalisco in the course of the Mexican War of Independence. Depicting a strong sense of pride for their country, Mexican peasants would gather at local haciendas to sing their people’s pain through the French invasion and celebrate their victories in the Mexican Revolution. Centuries later, the rural folk style of music has grown as a unifying representation of the strong Mexican identity and its culture.

With instruments evolving through the years, the classical guitar, trumpets, violins, guitarrón, and the vihuela are traditionally used in composing the Spanish orchestral music today.  Popularizing the style after a wealthy family sent President Porfirio Díaz Mariachi’s to perform for him; Mariachis have since been used in the rejoicing of families at weddings and cultural celebrations such as Quinceañeras. Serenata is the sending of Mariachis to play at the window of a loved one and once was used as a means of communication in a time when society kept the opposite sex separated. Today, serenatas are still widely upheld as a symbol of love and also commonly used to wake up the birthday boy/girl with the popular song, “Las Mañanitas” on their special day. It is also the song nationally dedicated to Virgin Mary on El Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe.

In efforts to unify Mexican nationalism, Mariachi music lives on throughout North and South America. It has created pride that spreads a smile across the face of Mexicans everywhere, every time the familiar guitarrón and trumpet sound.

Proof that the rich history of this style  can be combined with today’s music scene, we leave you with a Mariachi-styled rendition of Foster The People’s hit song, Pumped Up Kicks. Enjoy this unique performance by Foster The People in Guadalajara, México with special guests – El Mejor Mariachi De México.

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