Monday, June 4, 2007
The ranchera is a genre of the traditional music of Mexico. Although closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco in the post-revolutionary period, rancheras are also played today by norteño (or Conjunto), banda (or Duranguense), groups. Drawing on rural traditional folklore, the ranchera was conceived as a symbol of a new national consciousness in reaction to the aristocratic tastes of the era. Probably the greatest living exponent of the ranchera is the Mexican singer-songwriter Vicente Fernández.
Traditional rancheras are about love, patriotism or nature. Rhythms can be in 3/4, 2/4 or 4/4, reflecting the tempo of, respectively, the waltz, the polka, and the bolero. Songs are usually in the major key, and consist of an instrumental introduction, verse and refrain, instrumental section and another verse and refrain, with a tag ending. Instrumentation may include guitars, horns, trumpets, or accordions, depending on the type of band that plays it.
The musical pattern of rancheras is a/b/a/b. Rancheras usually begin with an instrumental introduction (a). The first lyrical portion then begins (b), with instrumental adornos interrupting the lines in between. The instruments then repeat the theme again, and then the lyrics may either be repeated or have new words.
Some of the most popular ranchera composers have been Felipe Valdez, Antonio Aguilar, as well as the prolific José Alfredo Jiménez. Well-known rancheras include "Noches Eternas", "El Palomito", "Una Mujer Casada", and "En Las Cantinas." Rancheras can be played by a variety of ensembles, such as mariachis and bandas, and incorporating strings, brass, and/or accordion.
Another closely related style of music is the corrido, which is often played by the same bands that regularly play rancheras. As contrasted to the corrido, however, rancheras are not necessarily heroic ballads and vary more in terms of tempo.
The word ranchera was derived from the word rancho because the songs originated in the countrysides of rural Mexico. Rancheras that have been adapted by norteño bands are sometimes called norteños.