Conjunto XiMusica Jarocha y Huasteca
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Son Jarocho

Jarocho

Jarocho

The people from Veracruz are commonly referred to as jarochos. More specifically, the southern half of the state of Veracruz is where the jarocho musician is found. A jarocho is any person from southern Veracruz. Jarocho can mean (1) a carroty red color or (2) a sharp pointed arrow; in reference to the skin color of the mestizos of the region or to the fact that colonial militiamen were armed with only a jara (stick or spear).

Jarocho is also an insolent or brusque person, usually a peasant, in the 18th and 19th century. These peasants were the only ones who would clean up the streets littered with horse droppings. Over the years the derogatory term became a symbol of a regionally proud people.


El Conjunto Jarocho

Jarocho

The typical ensemble is the conjunto jarocho. Most professional jarocho groups are composed of a harp, requinto, and jarana. Other instrumentation may include the guitar, a pandero (tamborine), quijada (jawbone of a donkey) and, on rare occasions, violin. Daniel Sheehy (1979) completed a comprehensive investigation of the jarocho style of music, The Son Jarocho: the History, Style, and Repertory of a Changing Mexican Musical Tradition.


Harp

Harp

The harp is the backbone of the modern conjunto jarocho. The jarocho harp is very different from the classic harp in its size and lack of tuning pedals. The harp is diatonic, tuned in a single key (equivalent to playing the white keys of the piano) and is composed of 32 to 36 strings which are wrapped around a metal peg allowing it to be tuned using a key. A popular trend in the Veracruz region is the addition of tuning levers to add harmonic versatility.

The Veracruz jarocho harp of the 18th and 19th century was two-thirds the size it is now, musicians would play this small harp while seated. Beginning in the 1930's the harp was revolutionized by a virtuoso performer-Andrés Huesca. His harp of choice was the arpa vieja or arpa grande, the type of harp used in the states of Jalisco, Michoacan and Guerrero, except this larger harp was manufactured in the Veracruz style with a single sound hole located on under side of the sound box. The arpa grande allowed the performer to play while standing, provided a stronger sounding bass, generated greater volume, and allowed the performer to play more aggressively. Andrés Huesca set the standard for modern harp players.


El Conjunto Jarocho

Jarana

The jarana veracruzana, or simply, jarana, is the main harmonic instrument of the conjunto jarocho. Derived from the small Spanish Baroque guitar the jarana is a small guitar with eight strings in five courses. The conjuntos normally carry between one and three jaranas, depending on the size of the group. The strumming patterns will set the compás (tempo) of the music, a rhythmic measure. The compás will determine the number and type of steps used in a dance. The jarana, in most sones veracruzanos, plays a repeated strum pattern, termed mánico, the repeated harmony determines the speed of the song and style.

The mánicos or, alternatively, maniqueos are "melodic lengths and phrasings, and tendencies of harmonic rhythm" expressed in duple meter or triple meter. Another important characteristic of the jarana strumming is the use of the rasgueo, derived from rascar (to scratch), the musician drags the thumb or fingers across the strings producing a distinctive musical sound that makes the son jarocho unique. Being that the jarana forms the nucleus of the conjunto jarocho and is the single most important instrument of the ensemble, all dancing revolves around the presence of the jarana, the type of jarocho dance step and its expression revolves around the jarana and the mánicos produced in the music.


Requinto

Requinto

The requinto is a melodic instrument of the conjunto jarocho. Generating a unique doublet sound resulting from a púa (plectrum) striking one of four strings immediately followed by the sound of the púa striking the top of the sound box, the requinto is a unique instrument not found anywhere else in Mexico. The requinto has become a very important rival to the harp for carrying melodies, because it is chromatic, the requinto can play accidentals or easily switch from one key to another.

Lino Chavez of Conjunto Medellin established the standard for the requinto, much as Andrés Huesca for the harp. The aggressive style of play, the lively melodic improvisations and the versatility of the instrument made the recording by Conjunto Medellin a trend setting standard.

Listen to a Sample:
Title: La Bamba
Duration: 3:20
Size: 3.05 MB


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