Folk music of Mexico

featuring content from the Smithsonian Institution


Traditional Mexican music is a vibrant blend of sounds, instruments, and cultures from all over the world, mixed with native dances and instruments to produce a multicultural hybrid experience.

This visualization takes a look at some of the popular mixed genres which were created across Mexico as foriegners began migrating to the country.

Did you know Mexican music has many genres? Scroll to reveal genres of regional Mexican music. The genres are listed in general time-period order (though some periods overlap).

Click on the play buttons by each song to hear sample from that genre/time period.


Music was an important part of the culture of native tribes of Mexico, including the Aztecs, Mayans, and Yaqui. These songs display primitive instruments of the pre-Columbus time, as well as the early Spanish influence on indegenious music.

native timeline


Corridos were used to deliver news of current events to the public with themes including oppression, history, life of criminals, and other topics.

corridos timeline


Ranchera music originiated in the ranches and countryside of Mexico in the late 18th century, marked by vocal slurs and gritos. Ranchera is the inspiration for Jalisco music which is the inspiration for Mariachi.

ranchera timeline


Son Jarocho is blended music from the state of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. Contains native themes mixed with Spanish, African, and Carribean influences.

son Jarocho timeline

Son Huasteco

Son Huasteco contains Spanish and indigenous influences. The genre is known for flamboyant and virtuoso violin parts and falsetto singing. Huapango likely derives from the Nahuatl word cuauhpanco that literally means "on top of the wood", alluding to a wooden platform on which dancers perform Zapateado dance steps.

Huapango timeline

La Banda

Banda music in Mexico dates from the middle of the 19th century with the arrival of piston metal instruments, such as trumpets and horns. This type of music became popular when communities tried to imitate the military bands, then began to use the genre for dancing.

Banda timeline


Norteño music is a blending of Mexican and Spanish oral and musical traditions, military brass band instrumentation, and Germanic/Polish musical styles (e.g. polka and waltz).

Norteno timeline


The usual mariachi group today consists of as many as eight violins, two trumpets and at least one guitar, including a high-pitched vihuela and an acoustic bass guitar called a guitarrón, and all players taking turns singing lead and doing backup vocals.

Mariachi timeline

This project was completed as coursework for MS Data Visualization Program at The New School, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. Items included in this visualization were gathered from the Smithsonian Institution's Folkways Recordings. Data came from the Smithsonian, wikipedia, as well as a variety of Mexican music websites and youtube videos.

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