Monday, June 8, 2015

Mariachi Band Instruments

Mariachi ensemble bands were born in the state of Jalisco in the 19th century. The music celebrates common life and mariachi bands are frequent guests at Mexican social events. The bands typically include violins, trumpets, guitars, and various smaller percussion instruments native to Mexico. The players usually dress in similar outfits, including a wide-brimmed hat.

Violins


The violin is a staple of the modern and past mariachi band. As of 2011, large mariachi bands contain six to eight violins although there are some smaller subsets that use as few as four players. They create background and melodic elements. Like any other violin, these instruments blend with others to support or lead the ensemble when the music calls for it.

Trumpets


The trumpet's role in mariachi is to play melodies and accent chords. Mutes are sometimes used to change the timbre of the instrument. There are usually two trumpet players that play in unison or more often harmonically with each other. Trumpet players use the vibrato to produce the wavy sound characteristic of mariachi music. The trumpet player will use a lip vibrato as opposed to the jaw vibrato to create this effect.

Guitars


There are several types of guitars in mariachi music. All mariachi bands have at least one guitar. It's the same kind of guitar used in classical or folk music. The vihuela plays with the guitar when it is present. The vihuela is strummed just like a guitar, but it is curved while the guitar has a flat front. This curvature was meant to permit bowing, but there is no indication that the vihuela ever used a bow to produce sound. The acoustic guitar is the same kind of guitar found in classical or folk music. The guitar strums chords and creates a metric pulse.

Folk Harp


The harp has tremendous versatility and often accents chords, plays along with or as a solo in the melody, or to create powerful bass lines. The structure of the harp allows the player to perform bass parts with the left hand while using the right hand to pluck out melodic lines. The harp will accent the bass line and provide the foundation for the ensemble. The mariachi player can perform dynamic, powerful bass strikes on what is typically seen as a delicate instrument.