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Lesson

Estoy Aquí: Music of the Chicano Movement
Mariachi and Conjunto: Symbols of Chicana/o Identity and Pride
Estoy Aquí: Music of the Chicano Movement / Mariachi and Conjunto: Symbols of Chicana/o Identity and Pride

Mariachi and conjunto are two musical genres that gained widespread popularity during the Chicano movement and remain popular today. What we now recognize as the mariachi sound originated in the rural areas of western Mexico. Conjunto is a type of dance music that originated in south Texas. It is a unique blend of music cultures, most notably, Mexican norteño and German polka. Within this lesson, you can watch one of the most famous mariachi ensembles in the United States (Mariachi Los Camperos) and actively engage with conjunto through dance. As you compare and contrast the defining characteristics of these genres, you will gain a deeper appreciation of the ways in which music can serve as an important symbol of cultural pride.

Lesson Components & Learning Objectives

  1. Exploring Mariachi: An Enduring Cultural Symbol

    • Identify the instruments that are associated with mariachi
    • Explain the historical and cultural context of mariachi
    • Approx. 45 minutes
  2. Experiencing Conjunto: Dance Music from South Texas

    • Identify the instruments that are associated with conjunto.
    • Explain the historical and cultural context of conjunto.
    • Actively experience conjunto through dance.
    • 30–45 minutes
  3. Comparing Mariachi and Conjunto

    • Identify similarities and differences between mariachi and conjunto.
    • 20–30 minutes

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Bibliography

Text

Champion, D., De Leon, R., & Vidaurri, C. L. (1999). Taquachito nights: Conjunto music from south Texas [Liner notes]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Clark, J., & Hermes, R. (1998). Mexico’s pioneer mariachis, Vol. 4: The very first mariachi recordings 1908–1909: Sones abajeños, by Cuarteto Coculense [Liner notes], edited by C. Strachwitz. Arhoolie Records.

Knighton, E. J. (n.d.). Chips and salsa: A taste of mariachi music for the high school [Lesson plan]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Lin, J. (n.d.). Mariachi: Music from the heart of Mexico [Lesson plan]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Loza, S. (2019). Barrio harmonics: Essays on Chicano/Latino music. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (n.d.). ¡Que viva el mariachi!: Music, meaning, and movimiento. Explore: Soundscapes.

Ragland, C., Peña, M., & Paredes, A. (1993). Borderlands: From conjunto to chicken scratch [Liner notes]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Sheehy, D. (2002). ¡Viva el mariachi!, by Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos [Liner notes]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Sheehy, D. (2005). ¡Llegaron Los Camperos! [Liner notes]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Soto, A. C. (n.d.). Conjunto music from south Texas [Lesson plan]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Soto, A. C. (2008). Conjunto in the classroom. Music Educators Journal, 95(1), 54–59.

Audio

Rubén Vela y su Conjunto (1999). El coco rayado [Audio recording]. On Taquachito nights: Conjunto music from south Texas [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Nati Cano's Mariachi Los Camperos (2005). México lindo [Audio recording]. On ¡Llegaron Los Camperos! [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Los Fantasmas del Valle (1999). El chueco [Audio recording]. On Taquachito nights: Conjunto music from south Texas [Album]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Video

Cantarelli, J., Campbell, P. S., & Soto, A. C. (2018). World music pedagogy workshop at the University of Washington [Video]. YouTube.

Galan, H. (1995). Songs of the homeland [Film]. Galán Incorporated Television & Film.

Galan, H. (2001). Accordion dreams [Film]. PBS.

Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos (2005). “México lindo” by Natividad “Nati” Cano from ¡Llegaron Los Camperos!: Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos [Video]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Cano, N. (2007). What makes a good mariachi? [Video]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Images

Rendón, A. (1987). Flaco Jiménez [Photograph]. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Acquisition made possible through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, NPG.2016.9.

Talman, H. (2009). Natividad Cano [Photograph]. In Grammy Award for Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano [Online article]. Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, Spring, 2009. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC.

Sheehy, D. (2015). Mariachi Los Camperos performing on stage [Photograph]. In Tradición, arte y pasión [CD packaging], disc tray. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC. Designed by Cooley Design Lab, SFW40559.

Hyde, H. (1912). Church at Cuernavaca, Mexico [Soft-ground etching on paper]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Hyde Gillette in memory of Mabel Hyde Gillette and Edwin Fraser Gillette, 1992.13.67.

Thieme, A. (1946). Taxco, Mexico [Photomechanical print of oil on canvas]. In Library of Congress copyright deposit collection [Archival collection]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Photograph archives, LC002116.

Holmes, W. H. (1918). In Mexico [Watercolor and pencil on paperboard]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Neil Judd, 1973.133.3.

Mediastudio (2002). ¡Viva el mariachi!, by Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos [Cover art]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington DC. Photographs by Daniel Sheehy, SFW40459.

Unknown artist (Collected 1966–1971). Mola, figure with horse (Cantares rancheros, Antonio Aguilar) [Mola]. National Museum of Natural History, Anthropology Department, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Donated by Mr. F. L. Hoover, 8453286.

Talman, H. (2009). Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano [Photograph]. In Grammy Award for Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano [Online article]. Smithsonian Folkways Magazine, Spring, 2009. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC.

Rendón, A. (1998). Charro showing roping skills [Gelatin silver print]. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center, 2016.6.6.

Sheehy, D. (2002). Luis Damián [Photograph]. In ¡Viva el mariachi!, by Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos [Cover art excerpt], cover art by Mediastudio. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC, SFW40459.

Talman, H. (2005). Jesus “Chuy” Guzman [Photograph]. In ¡Llegaron Los Camperos!, by Nati Cano’s Mariachi Los Camperos [Liner notes], p. 9. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington DC, SFW40417.

Unknown artist (2014). Flaco Jiménez and Tomás Ortiz de Los Alegres de Teran [Cover art]. Arhoolie Records, El Cerrito, CA. Finished artwork provided by Flaco Jiménez, ARH00543.

Pope, W. (1990). Caballo viejo, by Valerio Longoria [Cover art]. Arhoolie Records, El Cerrito, CA. Photograph by Philip Gould, ARH00336.

Unknown artist (1999). Lower Rio Grande Valley [Map]. In Taquachito nights: Conjunto music from south Texas [CD booklet], design by Visual Dialogue, p.30. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC, SFW40477.

Lopez, J. (1999). Taquachito nights: Conjunto music from south Texas [Cover art]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC. Album design by Visual Dialogue, SFW40477.

Unknown artist (ca. 1948). Narciso Martinez, accordion, with Santiago Almeida, bajo sexto [Photograph]. In Narciso Martinez, father of the Texas-Mexican conjunto [Liner notes], by Chris Strachwitz, 1993, p. 5. Arhoolie Records, El Cerrito, CA. Promotional photo by Ideal Records, ARH00361.

Unknown artist (n.d.). Accordion player [Photograph]. In Taquachito nights: Conjunto music from south Texas [CD booklet], designed by Visual Dialogue, 1999, p. 18. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington DC, SFW40477.

Unknown photographer (1957). Los Caminantes, Eastside Club [Photograph]. In Tejano roots: San Antonio's conjuntos in the 1950s [CD booklet], designed by Dix Bruce, 1994, p. 9. Arhoolie Records, El Cerrito, CA. Photograph courtesy of Richard Herrera, ARH00376.

Nadel, L. (1956). Braceros preparing food [Photograph]. National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, 2004.0138.05.30.

Cooley Design Lab (2009). Borders y bailes, by Los Texmaniacs [Cover art]. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington, DC. Photograph by Daniel Sheehy, SFW40555.