Mariachi Instruments


Mariachi music is a big part of the cuture here in San Antonio. So much so, that we now find this style of music being offered in school. In some cases, it has taken the place of orchestra class with some schools offering Band and Mariachi only. The usual mariachi group today consists of as many as eight violins, two trumpets and at least one guitar. Traditional mariachi guitars include the vihuela, a high-pitched, round-backed guitar that provides rhythm, and a bass guitar called a guitarrón, which also provides rhythm. The vihuela is similar in size to a ukulele and has five strings, and it is one of the instruments used to form the rhythm for the mariachi band. The guitarron is a larger guitar that is used to form the bass of the music and is one of the more recognizable instruments of a mariachi band. Any walk along the famed River Walk in San Antonio will allow you to get a glimpse of these classical music.

How it started

Originally the music of Mexico included drums, rattles, flutes, and shell horns. Over time, the people of Mexico altered the Spanish theatrical orchestra and made it their own. This new type of orchestra was made up of violins, trumpets, and a guitar. Today, the mariachi band has six to eight violins, two trumpets, a guitar, and instruments traditional to Mexico. The vihuela, a round back guitar, is strummed to keep the rhythm of the mariachi music. The guitarron is similar to a bass guitar. The music is also accompanied by gritos, shouts or cries that express their happiness in celebration.

Mariachi music can be used as a way of communicating. The mariachi music can be used as a way of serenading. During Mother's Day, you can find many mariachis traveling the city to serenade mothers from different members of the groups as well as other ladys inportant to the group members.  Mariachi music, like much of the music of the Latino cultures, is a music of the people. Mariachi music was of the lower class commoners but it was not just a song but a dance as well, something that was taught only by ear. The mariachi music is of the country people, it celebrates their struggles, joys and growth of the people. Mariachi music is often present at important events and celebrations in the lives of the Latino people. It is common to listen to the mariachis at baptisms, weddings, on holidays, and even at funerals.


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