Mariachi Music

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Mariachi Music

The origins of the word "mariachi" are not very clear. One theory, that the word came from the French word for marriage has been totally discounted. Many historians believed that the word originated when a Frenchman named Maximillian was the emperor of Mexico. Evidence of the usage of the word dates back much earlier than the arrival of Europeans, so the word had to come from somewhere else. Another theory states that the origin came from the name of the wood used to make the guitars or platforms on which the musicians performed. The most recent theory, however, dates the word back to the early 1500’s to the Coca Indian word for a musician (Ruiz, 2002). Today, the term mariachi refers to the musicians who play traditional Mexican music on streets, at celebrations, and in cafes.

The history of the mariachi can be traced back to the sixteenth century and the days of the Spanish colonization. During this time, theatre was immensely popular. The instruments used in these theatrical productions included violins, guitars, and harps. It was to this time, and to these instruments, that the origins of the modern mariachi can be traced (Mexico, The Melting of Two Cultures, 1991).

The modern mariachi ensemble originated in the Mexican state of Jalisco where traveling groups of musicians would play for hire in haciendas. During the Mexican Revolution which began in 1910, they were unable to perform in the haciendas as they had in the past and were forced to travel from town to town singing about, and thus carrying news about, the war. During this time, they would play for fees at celebrations or for tips in public squares and cafes (Collins, 2004).

After the revolution, the music of the mariachi became a symbo...

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Mackey, C. Mucho Mariachi. Americas. (English edition). Washington: Jan 1996. Vol. 48, Iss. 1; pg. 2, 2 pgs.

Mariachi History. El 2004. On-Line. Internet.

Mexico, The Melting of Two Cultures. Higgins and Associates. 1991. New York, NY.

Ruiz, R. Mariachi – An Evolving Mexican Tradition. La Prensa. San Antonio: Dec 1, 2002. Vol. XIV, Iss. 22; pg. 8B.

Sharp, J. Mariachi: From the Heart of Mexico. DesertUSA. 2004. On-Line. Internet.


Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. “Guadalajara”. Serie Platino: 20 Exitos. U.S. Latin. 1997.

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. “La Negra”. Serie Platino: 20 Exitos. U.S. Latin. 1997.

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. “Las Mañanitas”. Serie Platino: 20 Exitos. U.S. Latin. 1997.

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