Traditional Music of Mexico

Traditional Music of Mexico

The musical history of Mexico can be described as one of the best books in the world with meaningful events as well as cultural contrasts. That’s the reason why this country has a colorful world of music including various of musical styles and instruments. Before the continent was dominated by the Europeans in the 16th century, this land was once the place of Aztec culture which was one of the initial places that gave birth to music tradition.

After the conquest of Spanish, the country became the colony of Spain for more than two hundred years, thought this was a rough period in Mexican’s history, we can’t deny the contributions of Spanish culture to the traditional musical history of Mexico. Folk music and classical music has been developed since then alongside with other regional styles. In addition, with the appearance of the African slaves, the music of this country had the third dimension created by African people living here.

Traditional music of Mexico

In this post, we will introduce to you the basic music of Mexico – Son, Rachera, and Mariachi. You can see through the history as well as unique features of these types of traditional music so as to know more about the beauty of music and culture here.

The Beauty of Mexican Arts and Culture

  1. Mexican Son

This is a kind of traditional music appeared in the early 17th century as a natural result of the Spanish conquest. It is the combination of Spanish, African and indigenous cultures. You can see a similar situation in Cuban son. However, there are some differences in Mexico, and one of the is the variation between regions. Since the cultures and traditions of people in regions of Mexico are various according to the geographic locations, the music changed a lot in comparison with its original. The most crucial differences that we can notice at first sight is the rhythms and instruments usage. The music exhibition is also a factor that points out the differences between regions in Mexican son.

Mentioning to this kind of traditional music, we can see some branches of Mexican son such as:

  • Son Ja Rochon: Vera Cruz
  • Son licenses: Jalisco
  • Son calentano
  • Son michoacano

  1. Ranchera

Knowing about ranchera, you should remember its root. Ranchera is the expansion of son jalescenses. This is a type of song which was such in the middle of 19th century, right before the revolution of the Mexican. Ranchera was usually sung by a Mexican ranch. The theme of this music is mostly about love and nature. Some of them describe the patriotism of Mexican people.

The rhythm of Ranchera is very special. The songs don’t follow a typical type of rhythm, they can be a waltz, bolero or even polka. In fact, you can easily recognize a Ranchera song based on the instruments and the song form. A song in Ranchera styles consists of some particular types of musical instruments as well as the verse and the refrain in the middle.


Nowadays, people don’t often learn to sing or listen to Ranchera often. That’s the reason why this type of traditional music should be preserved and spread more to the young generations.

  1. Mariachi

This can be considered as the most well – known type of traditional music not only in Mexico but also in many countries worldwide as a typical culture of Mexico. At first, we often see Mariachi as a traditional music style, however, the truth is another way around. The word “Mariachi” refers to a group of musicians.

People don’t really have the exact answer for the name “Mariachi”. There are many arguments behind this name. Some researchers believe that this is another form of the French word “marriage” because of the location where this type of music is played mainly. This makes sense because the “Mariachi” is often formed and play songs at weddings in Mexico. Mariachi is an essential part of weddings in this country. According to other theories, this is the word from Coca Indian means something related to the orchestra. It maybe the performing platform of the orchestra or something else.

A Mariachi orchestra consist of several instruments which can be modified according to the occasions. However, a formal one includes two violins, two trumpets, a Spanish guitar and other types of guitar – which are often vilhuela and guitarron. The band often wear traditional uniform called “charro” which displays the attribution to General Portofino Diaz whom you can look for further information as a very important person in the history of this country.

Mexican Mariachi

  1. Mariachi Evolution

The Mariachis can play multiple types of music. They don’t have to bound themselves into any typical traditional music genres, but their strength is about performing Ranchera music. The main theme of Ranchera as well as Mariachi is about romantic and love. However, when the economy of Mexico worsened, the musicians can’t have the job easily as they used to have since their owners can’t afford for the whole band to play on special occasions. They became unemployed and had to struggle on their own to earn their livings. That’s the reason why the music changed, and the songs at that time were about revolutionary heroes and important events of the history.

Nowadays, after the very long time of change in both government and economy, the Mariachi revived and continue to bring traditional music back to the stage. Trumpet and harp were introduced to the band in the middle of 1950s. That is the current form of a Mariachi band presently that we can see in streets or stages in Mexico.


Knowing about the traditional music of a country is a way to dig deeper into the beauty of that country as well as broaden our knowledge about the variation of culture and arts. Mexican traditional music is a spotlight of Latin music – which is one of the most colorful music styles in the world. Therefore, people love this country and want to go there to enjoy the beauty of Ranchera and Mariachi.

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