We love this style of music, which we first discovered years ago at a rodeo in Sayulita on our first visit to Puerto Vallarta. Some may find it brash and loud but, to us it represents joy, liveliness and people having a darn good time. Wind and brass in large and small combinations make up the banda groups we have seen in Puerto Vallarta. Bandas are hard to pin down when it comes to a designated style. They play everything; rancheras, corridos, cumbias, boleros and baladas. What are those you might ask?
Ranchera is pre-revolutionary; songs from the ranch or plantation. Ranchera is the closest thing to mariachi, which we hear in Puerto Vallarta and all about Jalisco, but mariachi came after the revolution. Ranchera, also referred to as Norteños (indicating from the north) involved songs of love, nature and patriotism. You’ll find dancers performing polkas, waltzes and boleros to this music.
Corridos express oppression and history, current topics with social relevance and the past. They are ballads and they tell a story. This type of music crosses the border because it comes from a time when there was no border. Marty Robbins famous song El Paso would be a good example of a corrido; though it’s a song from the USA, it is truly a Mexican piece. In the 1960’s corridos were very instrumental in calling the charge for farm-workers in California by Luis Valdez, who led Teatro Campesino, the production of theater art that encourages activism, economic independence, and artistic excellence.
Cumbia is basically a courtship dance that drifted north from Colombia in South America and was adapted into Banda music, fit for singing, dancing and male/female duets. It is not unusual to hear this type of music in Puerto Vallarta at folklore festivals and assemblies, accompanied by colorful traditional costumes.
Bolero is actually a dance; the music played for it is very specific and originated in Spain, migrated to Puerto Vallarta over many years, have its inception in Cuba. The music and dance are slow, very romantic, and seductive.
Baladas are narratives stories and poetry set to music and can be found in every country all over the world. Ballads you will hear from Banda in Puerto Vallarta are often late at night, toward the end of the party, and given to lengthy descriptions. It’s a great way to practice your Spanish and decipher what desperado has fallen for another beautiful señorita.
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Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article! (opinions expressed are his own)
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