In Mexico, music can surely be a meaningful expression of one’s cultural and historical heritage, but it can also be just plain fun. Mexican music has thousand of years of history behind it, but that doesn’t make it stale. Actually, music in Mexico is ever-evolving, and Mexican musicians aren’t shy about forging new territory, even while remembering their cultural home base.
While some of Mexico’s ancient music has survived to this day — the Mayan song Xtoles is one of the world’s oldest known melodies, having been around for well over 1000 years — Mexico music is particularly fascinating because of way Spanish colonization intertwined with the nation’s cultural diversity. Spanish music has had an effect almost everywhere, but instead of replacing local forms it more often blended with them, leading to a substantial number of distinct musical styles that vary with the different characteristics of each local population. Wikipedia’s “Music of Mexico” page lays out several for us:
- Son Huasteco music, from the Huasteca territory
- Son jarocho from the area around Veracruz.
- Chilena from the Costa chica region in Guerrero and Oaxaca.
- Calentano music from Tierra Caliente.
- Abajeño music from Jalisco, Colima and Michoacán
- Son jaliscience from Jalisco. Mexican ranchera grew out of the “son jalescenses” style, folk music that was popular with ranchers out on the plains. Today’s mariachi bands mainly channel ranchera.
In a similar way, Mexican music has blended with forms from the Southwestern United States, especially Texas, where “tejano” music mixes both Spanish and Texan instruments and sounds.
While many Mexican musicians base their music in tradition, there are also thriving modern music scenes through the country — rock, pop, punk, hip-hop, techno…any music, anywhere, has a home in Mexico.
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