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In-class Live Mexican Folk Music Concert Review: What Instruments Were Used According to the Region

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On the March 18th of 2019, our Latin Music class hosted an in-class live concert of Mexican Folk music, by an internationally acclaimed band, Sones De Mexico. Listening them in class was the best interactive learning experience I ever had in a class. Listening to a live band and learning about the music of Mexico, becomes more memorable, rather than just reading or listening about it. The band was established in 1994 in Pilsen neighbourhood in Chicago. They travel in different states throughout the United States of America and give their performance aiming for the Mexican culture and Music to stay alive. All the members of the band could play the instrument as well as sing. They had good knowledge of regional Mexican music and the musical instruments that were used.

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The band played many different types of music from different regions of the Mexico. They started playing the Huasteca region and sang the song El Canario. They played many other songs such as the Xochipitzahuatl sung in Nahuatl, the language of Aztechs, and Moctezuma. The fourth track was Petenera which is in a 12-beat meter and I felt this as a very strong song compared to others. The band then moved to another region of Mexico named Michoacán. They explained about the region Michoacán, showed it on the map and acknowledged us with the location of the region. It is known for its extraordinary assortment of enchanted towns. The band then played the songs that were associated with the culture of Michoacán, the Jabalí and Danza de Los Viejitos (Dance of the Old People). During these concerts in the class, they used different types instrumentation for different songs like the jararanas, the vihuelas, the guitarrón, and the guitar. The other region was Yucatán it is also known as the Gulf of Mexico beaches. The song played by them representing the region was Toro Rabón (The Bull Without a Tail), the song was pleasing to hear. The band also explained about the Northern Region of Mexico and then showed us the regional music. The songs that expressed the Northern region were Mezquitón and El lucero.

The next region from which the band played the songs is from a region called Veracruz (música jarocha). The songs played by them were La Morena, El colás and La Bamba. The song was originally sung by an artist called Ritchie Valens, and it gained a position in top 40 hits chart in the United States, which determines the success itself. It combines the features of African and Spanish music together. This song had its unique feature: two members of the band performed a short act which was funny and added an extra element of fun in the music. This song is played with one or two harps along and the guitars. This type of music is mostly performed at weddings in state of Veracruz.

Every music from different regions require almost different type of instrumentations according to the culture of that region’s culture and the type of music they play. They used these instruments during the concert of their of folk music: violins, vihuelas, guitarrón, jararanas, guitar, percussion, Quijada, tenor sax, clarinet, and harp. The Quijada was made from donkey jaw. They used this instrument in one of their songs. Talking about personal experience, I really enjoyed the concert, because they explained about each state and each instrument before using it in their song. I also got to learn about the regions of Mexico and their cultural music.

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