The term “Mexican” is often referred to as a dark-skinned, tall, muscular man wearing a hat and strumming his guitar. A majority of people call him a mariachi. Mexican folk music is as varied as Mexico’s regions and states. Mexican music cannot be stereotyped.

Indigenous Music

Mexico is home of many indigenous peoples, as are most other countries in the world. Mexico’s indigenous music derives its inspiration from diverse tribes, including the Purepecha of Michoacan (Huichol of Nayarit), the Yaqui, Sonora and the Lancandon, Chipas. True indigenous music is not meant for outsiders. Ethnomusicologists prize songs that are performed for non-indigenous audiences because they offer insights into the culture and customs of the indigenous people.

Mestizo music: Regional, National and Period

Folk music, which is a mixture of Spanish, Indian and African cultures, has its own distinctive appeal. This folk music is often referred to as “regional” music, or “musica region”, because it reflects the customs and traditions of the area. Traditional music is played using instruments from the region where it was originated.

National music is also a genre of folk music that has come to symbolize the entire country. For example, Mexico’s national song is “Jarabe Tapatio”, a folk song that hails from Jalisco. “La Bamba” (state of Veracruz) and “Las Chiapanecas”, from the Chiapas state are often used as symbols of beauty, grace and culture in Mexico.

Period music is another type Mestizo music. To help during the Mexican Revolution’s war, mercenaries were hired and started introducing polkas around campfires. These polkas can still be heard in folk music that comes primarily from the United States bordering northern states. Other “periodical” folk songs were also created during Spanish or French occupations of Mexico.