History Mexican Music – Prehispanic to Revolution (Part I)

History Mexican Music 

Prehispanic to Revolution (Part I)

First of all Mexico, a pluricultural country par excellence is a colorful mosaic in which its music, dances and the beauty of its traditional dress stand out.

Prehispanic Mexico.

Archaeological vestiges of 9000 years a.c. Discover us that Mexico was the cradle of many aboriginal cultures. Art, sculpture, poetry, dance, and literature is part of the culture of the Amerindian peoples.

Olmecas on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico; Toltecas in the center of the altiplano, and Mayas in the Yucatan Peninsula, which extended to Guatemala and Honduras.

When the European man arrived at the central highlands, he marveled at a large urban complex of large buildings, pyramids, and temples.

The great Tenochtitlan, capital of the Mexica Empire, the current Mexico City.

Indigenous songs of different ethnic groups are part of our tradition, or by the diligent work of researchers.

Colonial Mexico.

The first Spaniards arrived in Mexican territory in 1511, in 1521 the Mexica Empire falls before the Spanish Conquest, and in 1535 the Viceroyalty of New Spain is born.

The musical background of both cultures, Spanish and indigenous, mixes little by little over 300 years.

From which a narrative musical genre that spreads throughout the Mexican Republic arises:

The Corrido.

Son of Spanish romance, due to its origin that of the famous troubadour who toured towns and, with the accompaniment of his guitar.

In his songs told the story of characters and peoples, embodying their most particular traits.

While those traditions help to nurture the same regional and national identity.

Since that time, a traditional song passes from one generation to the next by musicians of the town.

Spanish evangelizes brought and teach local musicians songs that passed from parents to children due to traditions conservation.

It is sung at parties, fairs, serenades. It is about the Mexican Song, a genre very appreciated by the emigrants and the nationals who live far from their homeland.

Another characteristic by delicate melodies of great amplitude and accentuated feeling.

On the other hand, bourgeois and European owners of plantations, banks, and mines.

Recreating the courts of the old continent, encourage the interpretation of chamber music in the great cities of the colony.

The church holds musical chapels in towns and cities in which European music is executed.

Finally ant the in an almost identical way as in Europe, which favors the construction of tubular organs in each town and gives rise to a splendid musical genre:

El Barroco Mexicano.

The peasant of those times intones what in the long run is a Mexican Tradition with the name of Ranchera Song.

That subsists until our days and relates the field life describing its surroundings, its landscape contrasts, and its traditions.

Describes love, in a language that, in addition to being simple and every day.

The music is picturesque and full of regional idioms.

During the 16th century

The sum of this new influence gives birth to a mestizo genre widely spread in the national territory:

The “Son,” which is a mix in a fortunate way with the traditional Spanish music that the conquerors brought to America.

The Africanía contributed important elements to the Mexican music.

Mainly in the coasts of the Pacific and the Gulf, regions with greater black population:

Such was the rhythmic richness and the use of syncopation, besides the tempo, the speed and the cadence in the interpretation.

The sounds of Costa Chica, cultivated in the south coast of the Pacific.

Marked influence of the African population settled in those regions.

Some South American rhythms brought by sailors who passed through the place to California.

That is why certain sounds of this region receive the name of Chilenas, played with guitars, vihuelas and, occasionally, harp.

As a percussion a trough, a large tray made of ceiba that is placed inverted on the floor, either to be percussed or to tap during the dance.

XIX century.

After three centuries of colonialism, the War of Independence began in 1810, which ended with the formation of a republican government in 1822.

The official recognition of Mexico’s independence by Spain in 1836.

Significant events took place in that century: the internal fights and the conservative resistance favored the establishment of a brief empire of 10 months.

Political instability, the Indian revolts in the northern part of the country and the expansion of the United States.

Those conflicts caused the Mexico-USA war in 1846, with the result that two years later.

Mexico had lost 2.5 million km2 of its territory: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and part of Wyoming.

Inheritance of the Mexican territoriality, and as a result of the U.S. border contact, a hybrid genre of the ranchera song emerges.

The country, which, like the dairy parties, widely shares both nations in a musical genre called Tex-Mex.

From the wooded Huasteca zone, which encompasses the great coastal plain of the northeast of the country and the savannah that joins it to the south.

The Huasteco and Huapango come from the Huasteca zone.

The first, with great vigor in the rhythmic accents, denotes the influence of the indigenous groups in the area.

Huapango is a dance on stage, where couples perform zapateados that enhance the regular part of the Son.

Although the Huapango is sometimes very melancholic, in others, like the Huasteco.

It highlights the mischievous and humorous quality of its verses.

The virtuoso passages in the violin and the Falsettos of the solo singer are also distinctive.

As a highly musical and artistic population, that region possesses one more son.

The “Son Jarocho,” of more significant African influence, palpable in the rhythmic accentuation and the use of responsorial singing.

The Jarochos troubadours use the ten-syllable ten-metric combination called tenth and show an exceptional talent for the improvisation of couplets.

Very particular ingenuity and mischief, where the harp strummed and percussed, plays an important role.

The War of Reform

In the mid-nineteenth century exploits a liberal revolution that aims to reduce the power of the Church and the wealthy classes.

In the face of such a chaotic situation, in 1861 the government decided to suspend the payment of the foreign debt. 

For which Spain, England, and France finally decided to intervene in Mexico and demand it by force.

The conservatives expelled the first two nations, but the French Intervention propitiates that in 1864 Napoleon III.

While wished to oppose a Latin wall to politics U.S. expansionist, send a large army that, together with the conservatives.

France supports the proclamation of Maximilian of Habsburg, Archduke of Austria, as Emperor of Mexico.

Carlota de Bélgica and her consort Maximiliano exercised for three years the Empire, which culminated with the execution of both.

The victory of the Liberal Party led by Benito Juárez and supported by the U.S.A. ended the  Civil War.

At that time, the Son of Mariachi emerged as the most representative musical genre in Mexico because of the wide dissemination it has had.

Originally it was performed with harp, three violins, a vihuela, one or several guitars and percussion, also the same instrumentalists singing the couplets.

It is speculated that the word mariachi arises in times of the French Intervention.

The term Marichi derives from marriage, alluding to the popular musical group to liven up weddings.

In 1875 a military uprising ended the liberal stage, because of the establishment of a repressive dictatorship supported by the landowners.

Which ended up to 35 years later with the outbreak of the First Revolution of the 20th century.

The Revolution.

  • Porfirio Díaz era ended!

After the fall of the dictatorship in 1910, years of internecine struggles took place in which the middle classes, the workers, and the peasants participated.

But in 1919, after the murder of the revolutionary agrarian leader Emiliano Zapata, the bourgeoisie assumed power.

In the art music some opera singers and pianists stood out in the Old Continent; and composers of Romanticism emerged, among whom are Ricardo Castro and Manuel M. Ponce.

  • The old Corrido new era.

As a favorite song, the very old corrido acquires its greatest boom since the Mexican Revolution since its narrative nature is a useful communication tool that describes the conflicts.

The campaign scenes, the successes, and defeats of the soldier and his inseparable woman, the soldadera.

The outlaw, the daily life of the people, the local customs. As a favorite dance genre, the series imposed, a kind of suite made up of several Sones.

Originally it was accompanied by bandurrias and guitars and sometimes with harp, violin and a kind of bandola; but currently, the sones are accompanied with mariachi.

In the early 50s, television put a unique dress on this musical ensemble and added the use of the trumpet.

  • Charros and Mariachi.

I am placing Charros and Mariachi in a prominent position in traditional music and its dissemination within the media.

Since before, between the 30s and 40s, the cinema had consolidated the position of the mariachi with the production of films that showed a schematic image of Mexico.

Where everything revolved around the charro (typical characterization of the authentic Mexican mestizo), tequila (agave distilled brandy and favorite national drink) and mariachi.

The famous are Jarabe Tapatío is considered the national dance and is interpreted by the characteristic couple of Charro and his partner, China Poblana.

  • The Yucatan influence

The Yucatan Peninsula has contributed to the Yucatecan Song. Its development, at the beginning of the 20th century.

The product of the productive literary and musical environment in its cities.

Serenade and literary evenings used, and singing a duet accompanied by the guitar became a contemporary art.

With all the east coast of Yucatan looking towards the Caribbean, the lyric poetry is a combination of sensual rhythms of the Caribbean.

The bolero, the Bambuco, and the clave are the genres that make up the Yucatecan Song.

These hot rhythms arrived in the Yucatan Peninsula, assimilated the Mexican essence acquiring a melancholic, sweet and very expressive sonority.

As the Yucatecan song evolved, it was composed of two voices, with two different melodies and, in some cases, two various texts sung at the same time.

  • The Black Influence in Mexico

In the Caribbean, specifically in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, there was a meeting of two musical cultures. 

Spanish and African, resulting in music that would later spread to other countries of the continent, including Mexico.

The presence of a population of African origin, which had already left its indelible mark on the culture of our country. 

We have formed a favorable environment for those musical genres that would arrive in the 19th century.

Danzón becomes an integral part of Mexican culture and maintains to date as an active manifestation of its favorite tradition.

Also from the Caribbean came the mambo, the cumbia, the bolero, and the guaracha, among many other genres and rhythms.

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