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A Brief History on the Mariachi Tradition


Analyzing Mariachi Traditional and Popular Song Forms

The Son Jaliscience 

  • Perhaps the most traditional song form from the mariachi genre.
  • Has both instrumental and versed songs in this form, mostly in major keys.  Some minor key sections exist.
  • Most mariachis consider this in 3/4, some will say alternating 3/4 and 6/8, some ethnomusicologists say 12/8, due to the alternating rhythmic pattern.  Traditionally performed with dancers.
  • There are different regional styles with the mariachi region itself.
  • Several identifying musical factors:

1. alternating basic rhythmic pattern in the armonía (guitars, vihuela) and guitarrón.  Basic pattern consists of one measure of 6/8 feel (guitarrón goes “against time”, contratiempo, in the 6/8 measure) with the next measure a definate 3/4.

2. Has a traditional identifying tag ending.  About 80% of the time is the following:

The rest of the time, the following is used:

  • Sones with sung verses typically will have an introduction which is many times a similar melody to the vocal melody.  A chorus refrain may follow the main verse(s).  There is a return to the instrumental interlude using the same melodic introduction to separate verses, or there may be a new instrumental theme played.  This may play through two to three times before the tag ending is played.


Back to Song Forms

The Son Jaliscience The Jarabe The Ranchera
The Serenata The Vals The Bolero
The Corrido The Polka The Chotis
The Clasica The Huapango The Cumbia


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