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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 A:

Example B:

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”.

Example C:

                           (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."

Example D:

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 one’s love for another person; the ranchera may also express love for one’s 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 this.

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.


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