Established in the late 1880s in Sinaloa, a state in northwestern Mexico, Banda music exploded in popularity in the 1990s throughout Mexico. Its roots come from the overlapping of Mexican music with German polka music. At the time, many German Mexicans lived in the states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Nuevo León. This greatly influenced northern Mexican music. Immigrants from northern Mexico brought the music to the United States. Initially popular in the southwest United States, primarily in Texas, California and Arizona, banda has followed the movement of Mexican immigrants to the Midwest United States and the rest of the country. Other notes on the origin of “Banda” music resembling mid 20th century Jazz: Mexicans whom came in contact with Latin-based Jazz of Chicanos or Mexicans born and raised in the United States adopted Jazz-like sounds in banda to further enrich the music type.


cumbiaCumbia is a Latin American music style that originated in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region. Traditional Cumbia and its associated dance is considered to be representative of Colombia, along with Vallenato, Bambuco and Pasillo. Cumbia originated in the Caribbean coast of eastern Colombia, but there are also folkloric variants in Panama. During the mid-20th century, Colombian band leaders such as Pacho Galan and Lucho Bermudez orchestrated this Caribbean folklore and brought it to different parts of Latin America, where it gained particular popularity in Mexico, Argentina, and the Andean region. Cumbia began as a courtship dance practiced among the African slave population that was later mixed with European instruments and musical characteristics. Cumbia is very popular in the Andean region and the Southern Cone and was until the early 1980s more popular in these regions than the salsa


Norteño (Spanish pronunciation: [norˈteɲo], northern), also norteña or conjunto, is a genre of Mexican music. The accordion and the bajo sexto are norteño’s most characteristic instruments. The norteño genre is popular in both Mexico and the United States, especially among the Mexican community. Though originating from rural areas, norteño is popular in urban as well as rural areas.

A conjunto norteño is a type of mexican folk ensemble. Often it consists of accordion, bajo sexto, double bass and drums, but it can also have saxophone.


duranguenseDuranguense (also known as pasito duranguense) is a genre of Mexican music. It is popular among the Mexican-American community in the United States. Duranguense is closely related to the Mexican styles of banda and norteño. The main instruments, which are held over from banda, are the saxophone, trombone, and bass drum. However, what sets the duranguense ensemble apart from banda is the addition of synthesizers to play both melodies and the tuba bassline. The tempo is also noticeably faster than banda or norteño. Among the duranguense elements carried over from other genres is el tamborazo; a heavy percussion line consisting of the bass drum and varied snare drum rolls.


mariachiThe term “Mariachi” is said to be an adaptation of the French word for marriage or wedding “mariage”, as this type of musical formation often played at then. This dates from the mid-19th, century during the reign of Maximilian I of Mexico (Archduke Maximilian of Austria) and the influence of Napoleon III over Mexico.

The mariachi ensemble generally consists of violins, trumpets, a classical guitar, a vihuela (a high-pitched, five-string guitar), a guitarrón (a large acoustic bass) and, on occasion, a harp. The musicians dress in silver-studded charro outfits with wide-brimmed hats.


salsaPopular across Latin America and North America, salsa incorporates multiple styles and variations. Most specifically, however, salsa refers to a particular style developed in the 1960s and ’70s by Cuban and Puerto Rican immigrants to the New York City area, and its later stylistic descendants including 1980s “salsa romantica” and other sub-genres. The style is now practiced throughout Latin America, and abroad. Salsa derives from the Cuban son and mambo, as the music foundation is based on the Son Clave. The terms Latin jazz and salsa are sometimes used interchangeably; many musicians are considered a part of either (like Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto among others), or both, fields, especially performers from prior to the 1970s.

RANCHERA (Sub-Genre / Style)

rancheraRanchera (pronounced [ranˈtʃeɾa]) is a genre of the traditional music of Mexico originally sung by only one performer with a guitar. It dates to the years of theMexican Revolution in the early 20th century. It later became closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco. Ranchera today is also played by Norteño (or Conjunto) or Banda. Drawing on rural traditional folk music, ranchera developed as a symbol of a new national consciousness in reaction to the aristocratic tastes of the period. The greatest exponents of ranchera are Cuco Sanchez, Rocío Dúrcal, José Alfredo Jiménez, Lola Beltrán, Vicente Fernández, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, and Javier Solís. Traditional rancheras are about love, patriotism or nature. Rhythms can be in 3/4, 2/4 or 4/4, reflecting the tempo of, respectively, the waltz, the polka, and the bolero. Songs are usually in a major key, and consist of an instrumental introduction, verse and refrain, instrumental section repeating the verse, and another verse and refrain, with a tag ending. Instrumentation may include guitars, strings, trumpets, and/or accordions, depending on the type of ensemble being utilized.

MERENGUE (Sub-Genre / Style)

merengueMerengue is a type of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. It is popular in the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America. Its name is Spanish, taken from the name of the meringue, a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar. It is unclear as to why this name became the name of the music; perhaps it can trace its meaning from the movement on the dance floor that could remind one of an egg beater in action. Merengues are fast arrangements with a 2/4 beat. The traditional instrumentation for a conjunto típico (traditional band), the usual performing group of folk merengue, is a diatonic accordion, a two–sided drum, called a tambora, held on the lap, and a güira. A güira is a percussion instrument that sounds like a maraca. It is a sheet of metal with small bumps on it (created with hammer and nail), shaped into a cylinder, and played with a stiff brush. The güira is brushed steadily on the downbeat with a “and-a” thrown in at certain points, or played in more complex patterns that generally mark the time. Caballito rhythm, or a quarter and two eighths, is also common. The double headed drum is played on one side with a stick syncopation and on the other side with the palm of the hand.

CORRIDO (Sub-Genre / Style)

corridoThe Corrido (Spanish pronunciation: [koˈriðo]) is a popular narrative song and poetry form, a ballad, of Mexico. The songs are often about oppression, history, daily life for peasants, and other socially important information. Various themes are featured in Mexican corridos, and corrido lyrics are often old legends (stories) and ballads about a famed criminal or hero in the rural frontier areas of Mexico. Some corridos may also be love stories. Also, there are corridos about women (La Venganza de Maria, Laurita Garza, and La tragedia de Rosita) and couples, not just about men. Contemporary corridos written within the past few decades feature more modern themes such as drug trafficking(narcocorridos), immigration, migrant labor and even the “Chupacabra”. Corridos, like rancheras, have introductory instrumental music and “adornos” interrupting the stanzas of the lyrics. However, unlike rancheras, the rhythm of a corrido remains fairly consistent. The corrido has a rhythm similar to that of the European waltz; rancheras can be played at a variety of rhythms.