Friday, January 15, 2010

Mexico and Its Music

Well we just got back from spending two great weeks in Mexico, and of course a large part of that trip involved listening to music. I know very little about Mexican music, but I like to listen to it, and I often think about it.

Mexican music is so recognizable and is so much a part of their culture. I have to smile when I see a young Mexican man driving an ultra spiffy muscle car down the boulevard, with all the windows rolled down, and the car stereo at full blast. And what you might hear, even if you're a block away, is the sound of an accordion blasting away to a 2/4 polka beat. How funny is that.

I've been to Mexico enough times and have traveled to enough places to be able to recognize some of the different styles of Mexican music according to the region of origin. The accordion/tuba laced norteño music of Northern Mexico is quite different from the horn and violin flavored mariachi music of Guadalajara, which is very different from the harp influenced music of Vera Cruz, which is in turn much different from the music of the Yucatán.

But it's all distinctly Mexican. And it's so cool that there seem to be dozens of standards that everyone knows and feels free to sing along to.

It makes me wonder why we don't have something similar in America. I mean our American culture has contributed to more than its share of music, but there doesn't seem to be one style or group of songs that we all relate to. But upon further thought, there are some exceptions.

We all seem to know the classic Christmas Carols, for example. And there are at least two regions of our great country that exhibit their own unique musical tradition. One is Southern Louisiana (not just New Orleans, but the bayou country as well), and the Cajun areas around Lafayette. And the other is Hawaii.

Hawaii is full if music, and once you get beyond the tourist layer of "Tiny Bubbles" and the like, you get a rich collection of tunes that all the locals seem to know and love. We've been very fortunate to have been invited to participate in many Hawaiian jam sessions. The songs are fairly simple to play and to pick up by ear, having only four or five chords at the most. But they are really soulful, and the locals treat them with reverence.

I'm thinking about that because we will be in Hawaii starting next week, and will no doubt get to re-experience these jam sessions. If you are lucky enough to live in Hawaii or are lucky enough to be there over the next couple of weeks, consider taking my Instant Piano workshop. I'd love to meet you.

I'll be holding the workshops in Kona, Hilo, Honolulu, and Kaneohe. Also How to Play Piano Piano by Ear at every location except Kona. Find the schedule here.

http://pianofun.com/schedule/Laughlin.html


Aloha and mahalo,


Robert

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