Mexican Mariachi Music: The Life of the Party

In Culture by Belen Molina

Whether you are serenading your significant other the way lovers do south of the border, or partying it up at a destination wedding celebration in one of Mexico’s most exclusive beach resorts, none of these scenarios would be complete without the cheerful and unique rhythm of mariachi music.

Mariachi is a traditional music genre that is widely popular in Mexico and that has been recognized as a symbol of Mexican folklore and culture around the world. The music that became known as mariachi dates back to the 19th century and originated on the small ranches and the rural areas of Western Mexico, particularly in the state of Jalisco. It wasn’t until the 1920s, when prominent radio stations began promoting mariachi music that it began to gain national prominence. By the mid-20th century, the unique make-up of the mariachi ensemble was widely established as being composed of a minimum of three violins, two trumpets, a guitar, a round-backed guitar called vihuela, a deep-voiced guitar called guitarrón, and a Mexican folk harp.

Mariachi Strings

In 2011, mariachi music was recognized as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. According to the selection committee, “Mariachi music conveys values that promote respect for the natural heritage of regional Mexico and the local history, both in Spanish and in indigenous languages from the west of the country.”

Traditionally, mariachi music is used to celebrate special occasions, such as birthday parties, wedding celebrations, farewell reunions, or any other gatherings of family and friends. Mariachi music is a great way to end a celebration on a high note and to quickly transform the experience of your guests in order to make it unforgettable. Whether it’s an expressive country song, a romantic bolero, or a rhythmic Son you can dance to, you can never go wrong with mariachi music.

Insider Tip: If you happen to be in the beautiful City of Guadalajara, don’t forget to visit the famous Plaza de los Mariachis or El Parian in Tlaquepaque. Both are great places to hear mariachi music. If you hire mariachis in a plaza or a restaurant, expect to pay $50-100 pesos per song. They will ask you what song you want to hear. If someone in your group is celebrating a birthday, ask them to play Las Mañanitas. Some good upbeat songs include the Jarabe Tapatío and El Son de La Negra. If you want something more romantic, ask for Serenata Huasteca or Sabor a Mi.

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