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Son Jarocho

Son Jarocho

Son jarocho is a folkloric music and dance form from the southern coastal area of Vera Cruz state, Mexico. (The term jarocho itself refers to people and things associated with southern Vera Cruz.) Its development has been traced to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is generally seen as a synthesis of the colonial-era Spanish, indigenous, and African cultures of the region. Such well known son jarochos as "La Bamba" and "El Besuquito" date back to the colonial period. While the instrumentation varies, the most common ensemble consists of an arpa veracruzana (a 32- to 36-string diatonic harp), a requinto (a small four-string guitar played with a large plectrum), and a small eight-string guitar known as a jarana.

Most songs feature short, repetitive harmonic cycles with alternating vocal and instrumental sections and, as dance music, tend to be fast and rhythmically complex. Meters of 3/4 or 6/8 are common, though tunes in duple meter exist. Song texts generally conform to traditional poetic forms such as the copla and décima and are frequently improvised; vocalists often make skillful use of metaphors and double entendres to comment on current social and political issues. The Son Jarocho form has proved to be both resilient and flexible, as demonstrated in its continual reinvention and reinterpretation in the hands of contemporary artists such as the Los Angeles-based band Los Lobos.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance .


Olsen, Dale A., and Daniel E. Sheehy, eds. The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music. New York: Garland, 2000.

Loza, Steven. "From Veracruz to Los Angeles: The Reinterpretation of the 'Son Jarocho.'" Latin American Music Review 13:2 (Autumn-Winter 1992), 179-194.

                                   Andrew M. Connell

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