MEXICAN FOLK MUSIC: EL JARABE TAPATIO
|El Jarabe Tapatio|
Fig. 6.5 Jarabe Tapatio
El Jarabe Tapatio is a popular mariachi folk dance, with a very well known melody. Mariachi music is a form of Mexican folk music which originated in western Mexico, and became popular throughout all of Mexico as a symbol of Mexican nationalism and identity. Although the precise date when mariachi music began in Mexico is not known, stringed instruments used in mariachi music such as the violin, vihuela (a small, guitar-like instrument with 5 strings and a rounded back) and harp, were introduced to Mexico during the Spanish colonial rule of Mexico (1521-1821). Although the word mariachi is sometimes erroneously attributed to a derivation of the French word for marriage, scholars have determined that some of the first known uses of the word mariachi in Mexico came from letters and diaries written by Catholic priests in the 1850s. The following excerpt is from a Catholic priest's 1859 diary entry describing mariachi music: "The musics, or as they say around there mariache, comprised of large harps, violins, and a bass drum, played incessantly."
The term mariachi is used to describe the music, the dances performed to it, and the ensembles used to perform mariachi music. Traditional mariachi ensembles were comprised of string instruments such as violins, guitar-like instruments such as the vihuela, the guitarrón (a large 4-5 string bass guitar which later evolved into a 6-string guitar), and in some regions, the guitarra de golpe (a small five-string guitar). Some early mariachi groups also included a diatonic harp. Modern mariachi groups generally include trumpets along with violins, vihuelas, guitarróns, and acoustic guitars.
Mariachi music was originally considered a rural form of folk music for the "common" people (such as mestizos—racially mixed persons with Spanish and Native American ancestry). Mariachi music is based on many forms of mestizo folk music such as son (meaning song; plural, sones), corrido, cancion, huapango and jarabe. The musical form of jarabe is a type of son intended for dancing, and it emerged around 1800. During the time of Mexican independence from Spain and the decline of ecclesiastical influence, secular music in Mexico became more popular. Sones and jarabes became symbols of political insurgence and national identity, and jarabes gradually evolved into combinations of excerpts from sones and other popular melodies. After the Mexican Revolution in 1910, mariachi music was hailed as a symbol of nationalism, and soon became a popular form of music throughout Mexico.     
El Jarabe Tapatio is one of the most popular dances from Mexico. The following quote describes its influence:
In the post-revolutionary era, numerous governmental efforts have promoted a common canon of folklore throughout the country…There is no greater archetype of this canon than "El Jarabe Tapatío."…Some of these jarabes, such as "El Jarabe Tapatío," were arranged for piano and published, becoming established as standard versions. In performances of "El Jarabe Tapatío" in Mexico City in 1918, the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova popularized choreographic innovations that further standardized the piece. By 1921, when, in Mexico City, performers premiered the version of "El Jarabe Tapatío" to be taught in the nation's public schools, its primacy and the title of "El Jarabe National" were fixed, though at the expense of losing much of its dynamic quality as a social dance. 
There is some debate regarding when El Jarabe Tapatío was first compiled. Some attribute it to a professor of music in Guadalajara, Jesús González Rubio (d. 1874 ), who purportedly compiled numerous jarabes, including an arrangement he made of Jarabe Tapatío.   Other sources attribute El Jarabe Tapatío to F. A. Partichela, who published a 1919 version in Mexico. One music researcher determined that the earliest printed version of El Jarabe Tapatío was a 1916 version arranged by A. Macias C., and this 1916 version was published in Texas.  There may be other earlier versions too, for example, another arrangement was written by the Mexican composer Manuel Maria Ponce. Ponce used the "Mexican folk tune" Jarabe tapatio as thematic material in a piece he composed in 1913 called Rapsodia Mexicana II. It was published by the Mexico City publisher A. Wagner y Levien, the same publisher who published F. A. Partichela's 1919 arrangement of Jarabe tapatio. Although all of these different versions and claims regarding the first publication date of El Jarabe Tapatío may be interesting, pinpointing an actual publication date may not really matter because most musicians consider El Jarabe Tapatío to be traditional Mexican folk music since it is a medley of popular songs such as:
- Jarabe de Jalisco – a jarabe from the state of Jalisco
- Jarabe del Atole – a well-known traditional jarabe from the late 1800's
- Son del Palomo – one of Mexico's most well-known sones
- a Jarana Yucateca – a popular dance style from the Yucatán Peninsula
- Jarabe Moreliano – a jarabe from the state of Michoacán
- La Diana – the final section of most jarabes 
The name Jarabe Tapatio is derived from different sources. Although jarabe does refer to a song (son) in the musical form of a dance, the word jarabe also means "syrup" in Mexican Spanish. Some scholars have also linked the word jarabe to the Arabic word xarab which means mixture of herbs, and there is some debate whether jarabe refers to the sweet courtship between the couples during the dance, or is a reference to the mixture of popular local songs used in creating this dance. The word tapatio refers to the region the tapatio dance came from (the Jalisco region), and the tapatio dance is a Mexican couples dance, in which the man dances the Spanish zapateado steps (a flamenco dance with syncopated heel and toe stamping in imitation of castanets). Jarabe Tapatio, a courtship dance, is nicknamed the Mexican hat dance, because during the dance, the man throws his hat at the feet of the woman. After she puts it on, they dance together.    
TECHNIQUE TIPS: As you play Jarabe Tapatio's famous compilation of Mexican folk songs and dances, maintain a lively dance tempo throughout the piece. This arrangement begins with a 6/8 meter with a strong triple pulse in each measure (ONE-two-three, FOUR-five-six). Beginning in measure 25, the meter changes to 2/4 with a strong two-beat pulse.
© Copyright 2013 RK Deverich. All rights reserved.
*Although this online string class is provided free of charge, all rights are reserved and this content is protected by international copyright law. It is illegal to copy, post or publish this content in any form, and displaying any of this material on other websites, blogs or feeds is prohibited. Permission is given for individual users to print pages from this website for their personal, non-commercial use.