Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mariachi Music

So what do you do when you're cooking?? I listen to music. Today I wanted to hear mariachis, so I brought out my Mariachi Vargas CD and played "Son de la Negra" full blast.
Most of you know what mariachis are, but for those of you not familiar with this type of music, let me explain. I wrote this piece a while back explaining the origins of mariachi music. I hope you will enjoy reading it.

There are varying opinions on the origins of the word Mariachi. One opinion is that the word comes from the French word mariage meaning marriage, where strolling musicians were hired to play and entertain. The word also refers to strolling musicians going from restaurant to restaurant or walking down the streets playing their music. In researching the word, I also found that the Coca Indians (1500's) of Mexico used the word mariachi to refer to any person that engaged in musical activities. Whatever the origin, the best definition for the word mariachi is Mexican Folk Musician.

Early in the history of the mariachi, before the 1930's, these musicians wore workmen's clothing of the time, white shirts and pants -calzones de manta- huaraches (sandals), and straw hats. They traveled around from hacienda to hacienda looking for work. After Gaspar Vargas, founder of Mariachi Vargas, went from Jalisco to Mexico City, mariachi music became much more popular in the urban areas of Mexico and their costumes changed. They now could be seen wearing the typical traje de charro, a Mexican horseman's outfit. This outfit consisted of a waist-length jacket, tightly fitted pants open slightly at the ankle to fit over short riding boots called botines, a wide rimmed sombrero, large bow tie and wide belt. The jacket and pants were and still are decorated with beautiful embroidery and silver buttons.

Historically, the instruments used by the mariachi were those introduced by the Spaniards. These consisted of guitars, vihuelas (violas), harps, and violins. With their widespread popularity, mariachis chose to expand their use of instruments to include the trumpet.

Mariachi music began its roots in the countryside. These strolling musicians played for fiestas including weddings, birthdays, religious and patriotic holidays, and sometimes even funerals. Las Mañanitas is a traditional tune played at birthday celebrations and saint days. They were often hired to play serenatas (serenades) during the rites of courtship, conveying messages of love. Mariachi music has also been incorporated into the Roman Catholic mass.

After Gaspar Vargas went to Mexico City with his mariachi group, mariachis could be found playing for legendary song writers and singers like Pedro Infante, Miguel Aceves Mejia, and Lola Beltran. Soon mariachi groups were contracted for motion pictures, giving rise to their popularity. Radio and television played their music of sones (like the son from Jalisco - La Negra) to zapateados, jarabes, and polkas.
Of course, Mariachi Vargas aren't the only ones I listened to. I also pulled a CD by Linda Rondstadt called "Canciones de Mi Padre."
Linda went back to her roots several years ago and put together this CD of songs that were her father's favorites.

I've added a couple of you tube videos that you might enjoy. You don't have to listen if you don't want but I hope you do. The music will have you dancing and maybe even singing along.

So now you know what I do while I'm cooking.

Please check out my new chocolate blog: Mexican Chocolate Lore and More. Let me know what you think about it and how I can make it even better for you. Muchas gracias mis amigos y amigas.


Esi said...

That's so funny that you posted this! I was at a party on Saturday where they hired a mariachi band to come play for an hour. It was so much fun! I am definitely finding more tunes to rock out to in my own kitchen as well!

Adam said...

Teresa, great idea for a post. I've heard of the Mariachi before, from... (please excuse me) Desperado. Yes, that movie with Antonio Banderas. He played a wicked guitar, and as a guitar player, I got really into that style of music.

I know there's more to the music than Spanish guitar, but I just love the tone and sound it makes.

I've actually been listening to a lot of Rodrigo y Gabriela recently. They are kinda famous, ever hear of them?

ARLENE said...

Hola, Teresa. Since I visit your blog so often, thought I'd just add it to my list of favorites.

Ben said...

Teresa, your post has brought tears to my eyes! I love mariachi music and I love all those Mexican customs, oh how I miss them some times. Great selection of songs, now I'll be listening to mariachi all day :-p

Debinhawaii said...

What a fun and interesting post! I like mariachi music--its always so festive and now I know the history. Thanks for a great post!

Foodycat said...

That's very interesting - the closest I have come to mariachi is seeing La Bamba (los lobos are mariachi-ish aren't they?) but I am now going to watch your youtube clips!

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

I don't think they're mariachi, actually, I know they're not...but one of my absolute favorite dance songs is Una Rumba Por Aqui by the Gypsy Kings. OHHHhhh how I love that SONG!!! If I hear it, I sing it

"Ole ole ole, ole ole ole...todos todos todo dicen ole!"