Trumpet Phrasing and Articulation:
Some examples on Mariachi Trumpet Style and Technique
by Laura Garciacano Sobrino
I. The Son Jaliscience
The following examples are typical phrase articulations used in standard licks for the traditional
son jaliscience. Example A illustrates a typical melodic
phrase ending, as found in many entradas (song introductions). Example B shows the
tonguing for the end of an adorno (melodic embellishment). The articulations used more often in the son jaliscience include tot, ta and da.
Example C most typically comes at the end of a son jaliscience, but can also be used as a remate
(tag phrase ending) at the end of an entrada. The tonguing, much in the style of Miguel Martinez during his Mariachi Vargas de
Tecalitlán years, articulates tot, ta and dot.
(similar to a jazz rolled eighth feel)
Finally, Example D is the standard ending for most sones , which uses the articulations of ta, da and tot. This
feature of the son jaliscience form is as identifying as extended V7-I
Beethoven endings! Alone, it is the ending used for probably 90% of the
traditional son jalisciences; it can also follow Example C, finalizing
the ending even "more."
II. The Ranchera
Rancheras, orsongs from the ranches, are love songs sung in 4/4, 3/4 and 2/4 meters. Love may not necessarily reflect ones love for another person; the ranchera may also express love for ones homeland, an animal, nature, etc. As the feeling of the ranchera
reflects different moods, the trumpet phrasing changes depending on those moods. Below are two typical examples. The first example of El Rey is transcribed plainly,
without the mariachi style of articulations or phrasings. Then, in the second example of El Rey a few
stylistic embellishments are added. There are many options a trumpet player might use to interpret this song within the mariachi style.
The four articulations more often used in this genre are: ta, tot, da and dot."
I suggest that the phrase markings used be respected for they have been handed down from Miguel Martinez, El
Trompetas," considered the father of the mariachi trumpet.
I hope and highly suggest that the mariachi trumpet student listen to as many recordings as possible in addition to the exercises presented
here. The recordings, especially the classics by Miguel Martinez and Cipriano Silva, will help the student to hear and understand more clearly the nuances of the mariachi trumpet style.
El Rey- 3/4 ranchera, unembellished
El Rey-phrased and articulated in the Cipriano Silva style.
Finally, this ranchera introduction (entrada ) is to exemplify a more sentimental trumpet style.
"Por Un Amor," very typical of the slow 4/4 ranchera feeling
and style, is a song that talks about a love that is no more and how the singer is suffering because of it. Therefore, the trumpet phrasing should reflect a more crying style, if you will. The
stylistic articulations most used in this type of ranchera are tha and da,
(much softer syllables, if you will) and are probably a combination of many of the great mariachi trumpet musicians styles.
Por Un Amor-phrased and articulated.
III. The Mariachi Trumpet Vibrato
The mariachi trumpet vibrato is a lip vibrato that has different speeds,
depending on the song form. According to my sources, the speeds should not vibrate faster than an eighth-note
in relationship to your tempo beat, and should start from the pitch ending on the up side of that pitch.
I suggest that the student listen carefully to proper mariachi recordings in order to fully understand
To begin practicing your lip vibrato, practice with a metronome set to a slow 4/4. Start from the pitch note and vary the pitch slightly up to not more than a quarter-step above the starting pitch, and return down to the original pitch. Play each eighth-note with its corresponding pitch variance up, then down. Once controlled, move on the sixteenth-note speeds, using the same technique explained for the eighth-notes.
A. The Son Jaliscience vibrato
The vibrato speed typically used for the son jaliscience is approximately equal
to the eighth-note exercises.
B. The Ranchera vibrato
Depending on whether one is performing an upbeat 2/4 or 3/4 ranchera
or a slower 3/4 or 4/4 ranchera, the typical speed of this vibrato technique is
slightly slower than the eighth-note exercises, and can be vibrated up to the
eighth-note tempo. This form is about the only traditional form where a
typical vibrato speed resembles triplets. Again, it is very important that the student
listen to the suggest recordings and try to imitate those styles.
C. The Bolero
The bolero form (4/4 love ballad) utilizes a vibrato speed approximately equal to sixteenth-notes.