Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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(which have a comparably large Indian population). A tremendous number of Mexican songs and song types has been collected. For example, the corrido, a narrative song type derived from the Spanish romance, with a four-line stanza but with repetitive melodic struc­ture, exists in various regional types. Corridos often deal with cur­rent events, crimes, and love stories, much as the English broadside ballads tell of sensational happenings, and new ones are still coming into existence. Songs from the fine art tradition are also sometimes reshaped into the form of the corrido by the folk tradition.
One difference between Spanish and Latin American folk music in general is the importance of instruments in the latter. The presence of instrumental refrains or ritornellos (tornadas) between phrases and stanzas has caused the melodies sometimes to assume asymmetri­cal form. The frequent use of 6/8 meter in Spanish folk song is, analogously, sometimes relieved, in Mexican folk music, by 5/8 or 7/8 measures.
An interesting manifestation of the instrument culture in Mexico is the development of mariachi orchestras—groups of three to a dozen players of string instruments (violins, guitars, mandolins, double basses) that play traditional and popular tunes in city streets. In recent decades, brass instruments have been added to these mari­achi orchestras, whose name, by the way, is evidently derived from the French manage because they were once frequently utilized at weddings.
The early missionaries in Mexico evidently tried hard to sup­press the native Indian musical culture. They did not succeed en­tirely, but as a result of their work much of the folk music of the Hispanic tradition has evidently found its way into the culture of some Mexican Indian groups. Vicente Mendoza,1 a great authority on Mexican folk music, presents songs of the Otomi Indians of Northern Mexico that show the characteristic triplets of Spanish folk song, and which have elements of major tonality emphasizing tonic and third. Other Otomi songs give even greater evidence of European influence—parallel thirds and sixths, something hardly to be found in aboriginal Indian music. But these songs are probably not simply Spanish songs sung by Indians; their style would be ex­ceedingly simple for Spain, for they typically have short melodies,
1 For example, see Vicente T. Mendoza, "Musica indigena Otomi," Revista de Estudios Music ales II, No. 5-6 (1950-1951), 527.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III