The Curious Origin of Serenades in Mexico

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Mariachis playing at wedding.

This Latin tradition is the most romantic of all. Do you know its history?

Painting "Poquito A Poquito" by Jesús Helguera.
CREDIT: TUTT ART PITTURA SCULTURE POETRY MUSIC

For Mexicans, one of the most romantic customs to make a couple fall in love is the serenade. But do you know what the origin of mariachi music for serenades is?

Rich Custom

Detail from "El Placer De Bailar" by Luigi Cavaliery.
CREDIT: PINTEREST / SABINA HATIBOVIC

Although special musical pieces were already made to liven up parties and night parties around the world, most of these mark their birth in 18th century Europe. The aristocrats asked Mozart or Beethoven for compositions for evenings. With the uniqueness that they had to be clean and serene tunes, hence they were called serenades.

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In Latin America, both in the colonies and in the viceroyalties, it was customary to hold contests of these pieces during the evening, but in the open air. Later lyrics were added, which spoke of sorrows and love. Therefore it was in America that the serenade acquired its romantic character at the foot of the balcony.

Where Did El Mariachi Come From?

Miguel from the movie "Road To El Dorado" playing the mandolin.
CREDIT: TENOR

From the Italian serenade, which has its origin in the popular songs that were made in the streets, they used mandolin. Following the old customs of the medieval troubadour.

On the other hand, from Spain, where the mandolin was changed to the rondalla and the tuna, which arrived in Mexico. It is worth mentioning that today the old custom of the female student, who plays this type of music with these instruments, continues.

During the 20th century, these string groups became popular in Mexico and were known by the name of fandangos or mariachis. They were so famous among the people that even dignitaries like Porfirio Díaz were greeted with large groups of mariachis.

The original mariachi is made up of vihuela (old instrument), guitar, harp, violins and drum. However, in Mexico, in 1941, Emilio Azcárraga, owner of radio station XEW (and later of Televisa), insisted on adding a new sound, the trumpet! This is how the mariachi we know today was born (or at least that's what the popular version says).

Nacho plays the air trumpet.
CREDIT: GIPHY / IMGUR

The fact of including the trumpet completely changed the whole sound and the interpretations of the serenade, appropriating it to the Mexicans.

World War II And The Blackout

Mariachis playing in the dark
CREDIT: XGUSTO

In the nightlife of the 40's, mariachis performed inside clubs and nightclubs playing from a balcony to the public. When Mexico declared war, the lights in the main cities were turned off completely so that the Japanese planes would not attack; This was called "the blackout."

However, as good Mexicans, we take the party to the streets, regardless of the "blackout."

So the public manifestations of the maricahi were, in its beginnings, to conquer the girls. The musical band stood at the foot of the balcony of the houses to wake them up with romantic songs.

This phenomenon became even more popular when it was reproduced in Mexican films, under the voices of Agustín Lara, Luis Aguilar or Pedro Infante. And the matter became even more romantic when the protective knight came to the balcony mounted on horseback in his charro suit.

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The Best Mariachi Music For Serenade

If you plan to serenade your beloved, take out your notebook and write down the following.

SpongeBob struggles to write in his journal.
CREDIT: TENOR

In order for the serenade to be effective, the composers made songs that began from the lowest to the most beautiful, so that the couple could wake up little by little.

The natural thing was to first turn on the light in the room, letting the lover know that the song was being heard, and before finishing the musical piece, go out to the balcony.

Painting "Las Mañanitas" by Jesús Helguera.
CREDIT: TUTT ART PITTURA SCULTURE POETRY MUSIC

These songs are still used. We are talking about melodies like "100 years" (And yet you continue, united to my existence, and if I live 100 years, I think of you for 100 years); “Bésame mucho” (Kiss me as if it were the last time); "If they leave us" (If they leave us, we will love each other for life); “Luz de Luna” (Well since you left, I haven't had moonlight); "Red Sky" (I have not been able to forget you, since the night I lost you); "You know a thing" (I can't find the words, or rhyme verse or prose, maybe with a rose, I can tell you); and of course "Serenata Huasteca" (I sing at the foot of your window, so you know that I love you).

Of course, to be a serenade, you have to sing the song yourself, so you have to learn the lyrics. Well, one mistake could end the relationship.

Elizabeth Taylor doesn't want your company.
CREDIT: GIPHY / WARNER ARCHIVE

Among so many instruments, it is worth bringing an accordion. And please! You have to know the musical tastes of the couple. Well, there are those who make the mistake of singing the song that he hates the most or the one that the ex dedicated to him.

Good love


Hiring a mariachi to serenade can be very expensive, because of all the members it must include. Generally, the serenade is used to ask for deep forgiveness, it is dedicated to a true love or a hidden declaration of master.

The price can also vary, even for the type of mariachi dress. There are some who are dressed up with endless details embroidered on their suits. The truth is that it is worth investing in the quality of these characters.

Before taking a serenade, you have to take into account how many songs will be sung and who provides the transportation. Generally, the mariachis have their own wagons, but if not, you will have to pay the taxi or, sometimes, even the gasoline.

Teresa hates poverty.
CREDIT: TWITTER / POBREZAMALDITA

That is why there are those who prefer to play the guitar, throw a karaoke with a tape recorder or invite a friend who knows melodic. It will be necessary to put a lot of feeling or make an effort so that it manages to reach the heart of our love.

But yes, you should not miss the surprise. It must be something sudden for it to be worth it, for the song to sound in the middle of the silence and for it to be unexpected. It is common to wear it on birthdays or anniversaries, but if the date is unexpected, it can be more successful because it is a real detail.

So now you know. Mariachi music for serenades is a very Mexican tradition, but singing at the foot of the balcony with the guitar is also worth it. It all depends on the lyrics of the songs really projecting the true feelings and not being a simple farce or a "see if it falls" number.

Do it with your heart in your hand, because if you can't get another beautiful Mexican tradition: the “there goes the water” or “the pot on the head”.

The Hardest and Funniest Songs for Karaoke: Even Vicente Fernández would have difficulty singing these songs.

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