Mariachi Band History

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In a recent visit to the local Wal-Mart store, I was surprised with the attendance of a live Mariachi band. The Fritos Lay chips company was doing a promotion on some corn chips. The six-member band preformed for a few hours and was a great delight to listen to. As I later went to research, the history of Mariachi I found some very interesting facts. The word "Mariachi" means "musician" or any person who is involved with musical activities. This group of people is easily distinguished between other bands do to the distinct instruments, attire, and music. Most mariachi groups have between seven and nine members that create a very interesting style of music. The music and style is what separates mariachi from other types of music. The mariachi band that I listened to played for a small crowd their native songs, such as Cielito Lindo, El Son de la Negra, and El Rey.

The best parts of the performance are when the occasional shouts and cries are given which are called "gritos", and are essential to the nature of the music. I really enjoyed listening to the lyrics and favored the shouts that they would yell out.

The members of the band all wear similar clothes that are of a very unique style that adds to the excitement the band causes. The clothes of a mariachi group are called the "traje", which included botines(or ankle boots), a sombrero(or broad-trimmed hats), a mono(or large bow tie), a chaleco(or short jacket), snug trousers without back pockets, a wide belt, and botonaduras(or shiny buttons) on the side of the pants. Certainly the group I saw perform at the Wal-Mart was well outfit to display there classic style of music and stronge liking for their culture. I had seen many pictures of different bands and their clothing that really adds a touch to their musical performance. The band was rewarded by the crowd with a large round of applause and a small donation on to their tip jar. The money the band collected was going to the Make a Wish Foundation. They also had a small brochure that outlined what they were wearing and what the names of the songs were that they sung. Some people were making request to play special native songs that were very interesting to hear.

The music itself is very different from what I am used to hearing so it was very pleasant. The band members all had different mariachi instruments that all serve a special function to produce the wonderful sound. The instruments that the band used to perform mariachi music were a harp, one violin, a vihuela, guitar, trumpet, and a guitarron. The harp is one of the oldest known musical instruments that the group uses. The bands use the different instruments out of tradition. The trumpet added strength to the melody the violins produced. The guitars and vihuela provided a rhythmic tone. For those who don't know what a vihuela is, it is a small guitar or ukelele instrument with a v-shaped back. Vihuela and the guitars provide the drive for the mariachi band in their performance.