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Mexican Folk and related instruments

Big Ballad Singer 09 Aug 10 - 03:42 PM
Amos 09 Aug 10 - 03:50 PM
Amos 09 Aug 10 - 03:55 PM
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Subject: Mexican Folk and related instruments
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 03:42 PM

I am a fan of ranchero and norteno music and Mexican culture in general.

While I know there are instruments typical of mariachi bands and so on, I am wondering what instrument a solo musician might play to accompany himself in the various styles.

Would a guitar suffice across the board? Would perhaps a requinto or bajo sexto be more authentic?

I play the guitar and several other instruments fairly well, but if there is any instrument that simply is THE sound to have in a certain style of Mexican music, please let me know.

Muchas Gracias,


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Subject: RE: Mexican Folk and related instruments
From: Amos
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 03:50 PM

I have seen Mexican street singers soloing with a guitar often enough.

Wikipedia says: "The requinto guitar has six nylon strings with a scale length of 530 to 540 mm, which is about 18% smaller than a standard guitar scale.

Requintos made in Mexico have a deeper body than a standard classical guitar (110 mm as opposed to 105 mm). Requintos made in Spain tend to be of the same depth as the standard classical. Requinto guitars are also used throughout Latin America.

Requintos are tuned: A-D-G-c-e-a.

The requinto was invented for use in the guitar orchestra, which usually consists of two requintos, two standard guitars, two bajas, and occasionally a bass or two. The bajas and requintos were designed to have a different tuning in relevance to the different tunings of string instruments in the string orchestra. The standard guitar would represent the viola, and in contrast, the requinto represents the violin and the baja represents the cello, whilst the bass is the bass."

"A bajo sexto (Spanish: "sixth bass") is a musical instrument with 12 strings in 6 double courses, used in Mexican music. It is used primarily in norteño music of northern Mexico and across the border in the music of south Texas known as "Tex-Mex," "conjunto," or "música mexicana-tejana".

A Bajo Quinto.A similar instrument with five courses is the bajo quinto. The manufacture of bajo quinto achieved high quality in the 19th century, in the states of Aguascalientes, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala and Distrito Federal.[1]

The bajo sexto sound provides a strong rhythm in the lower pitched end of a Conjunto band and also provides a strong projection of chord changes across songs.

Bajo sextos are tuned: E,A,D,G,C,F, (from lowest to highest string)

Bajo quintos are tuned the same: A,D,G,C,F (as above) [2]"

I have seen solo musicians playing the bajo sexto as well as the normal six-string midsize guitar.

I don't really know of there is some sort of cultulral convention on what is best, but they have both sounded rich and very Mexican in the right hands.


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Subject: RE: Mexican Folk and related instruments
From: Amos
Date: 09 Aug 10 - 03:55 PM

HEre's a fascinating example of a small indigenous group led by a baja sexto playing on a street in southern Mexico. Note the sophisticated variations being achieved by the drummer using a clay pot and a cap de beisbol!


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