Have you ever seen a band of musicians perform in embroidered suits and sombreros? Let us tell you about this unique musical tradition from Mexico – the mariachi band!
The mariachi band is an ensemble. An ensemble is a group of musicians who perform together. The mariachi band sings songs and plays musical instruments.
Did you know that the tradition of mariachi bands is around 300 years old? It started in the late 1700s in west-central Mexico. Over the years, the tradition was passed down from generation to generation. The word ‘mariachi’ is believed to have come from the Cora Indians. The Cora Indians are a community native to Jalisco, a western Mexican state. The Coras used the word ‘mariachi’ to describe a tree that grew in their region. The wood used to make early mariachi instruments was the same type of wood that was obtained from this tree!
A mariachi band has at least four members. Most of the time, a band has more than a dozen members! They wear traditional charro suits to perform. Charro suits have waist-length jackets, pants, and bowties. The suits have embroidery on them! The members also wear boots and sombreros. Sombreros are hats with wide brims worn in Mexico.
The members of the mariachi band carry a variety of traditional and modern musical instruments. They carry a guitar, violin, guitarrón, and vihuela. The guitarrón is a large guitar. It is the backbone of any mariachi band. The vihuela is a small guitar with a round back. Nowadays, modern mariachi bands also carry instruments such as harps and trumpets.
The mariachi bands perform in restaurants or on the streets. They are an important part of religious, social, and festive events in Mexico and abroad. They stroll through the crowds singing about love, betrayal, death, heroes, and animals. The bands also know many popular songs as they take requests from their audience!
In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared mariachi an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.