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Music of Mexico

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Music of Mexico

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Traditional mariachi music. Traditional mariachi music.

The music of Mexico is extraordinarily diverse and features a wide range of different musical styles. The best-known Mexican genre by far is ranchera, interpreted by a band called mariachi. This style of traditional Mexican song is considered old-fashioned but nonetheless respected traditional music and is usually listened to as much as modern music. Mexican ranchera styles, including norteño and banda, are not only popular within Mexico itself, but they are also frequently enjoyed by Mexican immigrants in both rural and urban American communities. Norteño, similar to Tejano music and Tex-Mex, arose in the 1830s and 40s in the Rio Grande border region of southern Texas. Influenced by Bohemian immigrant miners, its rhythm was derived from the European polka dance popular during the 1800s. Banda, similar to norteño in musical form, originated from the Mexico state of Sinaloa during the 1960s. Other new styles such as cumbia, pop, and rock have seen increased popularity as the music of Mexico faces a new generation of young people.

Southern Mexican folk music is centered around the marimba, which remains popular in Chiapas and Oaxaca. In Yucatán the traditional Jarana music and dance is popular.

Modern Mexican musical styles are also changing Mexican music. Cumbia, pop, hip-hop, and rock, which are heavily influenced by music from the Caribbean islands and the United States, are increasingly becoming popular among Mexican youths on both sides of the border.


Contemporary genres

Today, there are many popular modern Mexican musical genres. Widely popular country music includes norteño, banda, and duranguense bands, which play rancheras, corridos, and sometimes cumbia songs. Spanish rock, hip-hop, and electronic music are other modern genres popular among Mexicans and Mexican Americans.


Norteño music (similar to Tex-Mex and Tejano in the United States) almost always has the accordion as the lead instrument, with guitars serving as its roots. Norteño is an outgrowth of corridos which told tales of the Mexican Revolution. In the late 1920s, the corridos entered a golden age when Mexicans on both sides of the border recorded in San Antonio-area hotels, revolutionizing the genre alongside Mexico's political revolution. By the time the golden age ended, Narciso Martínez and Santiago Jimenez had introduced the accordion, which had been introduced by Bohemian miners who immigrated to the country in the late 19th century. Alongside the accordion came the polka, which, alongside waltzes, chotis and mazurka, mixed with corridos to form modern norteño in the early 1950s. Although norteño originated in the American state of Texas, it is popular among Mexican Americans from virtually any region of the United States. Later in the century, bands such as Los Tigres del Norte and Los Cadetes de Linares added influences from cumbia, rock music, and other new styles, thus creating a unique new blend in some of their new songs.


Banda music, or Mexican big band music, originated in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa. In the 1990s, banda exploded in popularity in the rest of the country and also among Hispanics in the United States. Originally instrumental, this style was popularized by Banda el Recodo, Julio Preciado, and other major stars who started including lyrics and converting popular songs into this genre.


Música durangunese (often called duranguense or el pasito duranguense) is a type of music which originated from the northern Mexican state of Durango. In the United States, it has became increasingly popular in Chicago, which has a large community of immgrants from Durango. This music is based on both brass and wind instruments and includes the clarinet, trumpet, flute, and drums. Duranguense bands usually play their songs at a rapid, danceable tempo and tend to rely much more on percussion than banda does. [1] In the 2000s, música duranguense rapidly gained recognition along with banda and norteño as a style of Mexican music. Duranguense bands play mainly rancheras, polkas, and cumbias. Some of the most popular artists include Grupo Montez, Patrulla 81, Alacranes Musical, Los Horoscopos de Durango, and Conjunto Atradecer.

Click here to hear what a typical duranguense song sounds like. (Piedra by Patrulla 81)

Cumbia and pop

Main article: Mexican cumbia

The 1980s saw Colombian cumbia become even more popular in Mexico than its native land, and it was by far the dominant genre throughout the decade, before banda overtook it in the 1990s. In the early 1970s and 1980s Mexican bands like Rigo Tovar y su Costa Azul and Los Bukis topped the charts, and helped, by the end of the decade, inspire grupera bands such as Yonics, Bronco, El Gran Silencio and Los Kumbia Kings.

Hip-hop and reggaeton

Hip-hop is becoming increasingly popular among Mexican youths in both Mexico and the United States. Some of the most famous Mexican hip-hop artists are Cartel de Santa and Control Machete. Reggaeton, from Puerto Rico, is also popular among Mexican youths and is increasingly influencing Mexican-American hip-hop rhythms.


The same period saw a relaxation of regulations that restricted imports of foreign music. The result was the appearance of Mexican rock bands like Café Tacuba, Los Caifanes, Maná, and Maldita Vecindad. The latter are "grandfathers" to the Latin ska movement, with Panteón Rococó as the most prominent band. Mexico City has also a considerable movement of bands playing surf rock inspired in their outfits by local show-sport lucha libre, with Lost Acapulco initiating and leading the movement.

Electronic music

Electronic music is prominent in the North with the Nortec Collective and the Static Discos Label, Nopalbeat in Guadalajara, and Discos Konfort, Filtro and Noiselab Collective among others in Mexico City. Electronic music is by far most popular among young people. Electronic music has been getting stronger in Mexico over the last ten years and is heavily influenced by American and European disco music.

The cities with most electronic music parties raves and events are Mexico D.F., Guadalajara, Cancún, Acapulco, Monterrey, Ciudad Juárez, Puebla and Tijuana.

Latin alternative

An eclectic range of influences is at the heart of Latin Alternative, a music created by young players who have been raised not only on their parents' music but also on rock, hip-hop and electronica. It represents a sonic shift away from regionalism and points to a new global Latin identity.

The name "Latin Alternative" was coined in the late 1990s by record company executives as a way to sell music that was -- literally -- all over the map. It was marketed as an alternative to the slick, highly produced Latin pop that dominated commercial Spanish-language radio, such as Ricky Martin or Shakira.

Artists within the genre, such as Kinky and Cafe Tacuba, have set out to defy traditional expectations of Latin music. Now, in an age of Internet connections, downloading and sampling, Latin Alternative has become not just a reaction to outside influences but its own genre.

Classical music

Mexico has a long tradition of classical music, as far back as the 16th century, when it was a Spanish colony. Music of New Spain, especially that of Juan Gutierrez de Padilla and Hernando Franco, is increasingly recognized as a significant contribution to New World culture.

Puebla was a significant center of music composition in the 17th century, as the city had considerable wealth and for a time was presided over by Bishop Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, who was an enthusiastic patron of music. Composers during this period included Bernardo de Peralta Escudero (mostly active around 1640), and also Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, who was the most famous composer of the 17th century in Mexico. The construction of the cathedral in Puebla made the composition and performance of polychoral music possible, especially compositions in the Venetian polychoral style. Late in the century, Miguel Matheo de Dallo y Lana set the verse of poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

In the 18th century, Ignacio Jerusalem, an Italian-born composer, brought some of the latest operatic styles as well as early classical (galant) styles to Mexico. His best-known composition is probably the Matins for the Virgin of Guadalupe (1764). Ignacio was maestro di capilla at the cathedral in Mexico City from 1749 until his death in 1769.

In the 19th century the waltzes of Juventino Rosas reached world recognizion. In the 20th century, Carlos Chavez, is a composer of note who wrote symphonies, ballets, and more. Another recognized composer is Silvestre Revueltas who wrote such pieces as "The night of the mayas", "Homenaje a García Lorca", "Sensemayá" based on a poem by Nicolas Guillen, "Janitzio" and "Redes". Manuel M. Ponce is recognized as an important composer for the spanish classical guitar, responsible for widening the repertorium for this instrument. Jose Pablo Moncayo with compositions such as "Huapango", and Blas Galindo with "Sones de Mariachi", are also recognized as adapters of mexican sons into symphonic music .

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.