November 09, 2007
January 16, 2011
Gangsta, Nortenos, Rancheros
Total Songs Added:
The corrido is a popular narrative song and poetry form, a ballad, of the mestizo Mexican cultural area (which includes the Southwestern states of the United States). It derives largely from the 18th century Spanish romance, and in its most known form consists of 1) a salutation from the singer and prologue to the story; 2) the story itself; 3) a moral and farewell from the singer.
Various themes are featured in Mexican corridos, and corrido lyrics are often old legends and ballads about a famed criminal or hero in the rural frontier areas of northern Mexico. Some corridos may also be love stories. Contemporary corridos written within the past few decades feature much more modern themes.
Corridos, like rancheras, have introductory instrumental music and adornos interrupting the stanzas of the lyrics. However, unlike rancheras, its rhythm remains fairly consistent. The corrido has a rhythm very much similar to the European waltz; rancheras can be played at a variety of rhythms. Corridos often tell stories, while rancheras are for dancing.
Until the arrival and success of electronic mass-media (mid-20th century), the corrido served in Mexico as the main informational and educational outlet, even with subversive purposes, due to its apparent linguistic and musical simplicity, appropriate for oral transmission. After the spread of radio and television, the genre evolved into a new stage and is still in process of maturity. Some scholars, however, consider the corrido to be dead or agonizing in more recent times (see affirmations of Vicente T. Mendoza, El corrido mexicano, 1954). In more rural areas where Spanish and Mexican cultures have been preserved because of isolation, the romance has taken on other forms related to the corrido as well. In New Mexico, for example, a story-song emerged during the colonial period that was known as an Indita, which loosely follows the format of a corrido, but is chanted rather than sung, similar to a Native American chant, hence the name Indita.
The earliest living specimens of corrido are adapted versions of Spanish romances or European tales, mainly about disgraced or idealized love, or religious topics. These, that include (among others) "La Martina" (an adaptation of the romance "La Esposa Infiel") and "La Delgadina", show the same basic stylistic features of the mainstream of later corridos (1/2 or 3/4 tempo and "verso menor" lyric composing, meaning verses of eight or less phonetic syllables, grouped in strophes of six or less verses).
Beginning with the Mexican War of Independence (1810-1821) and culminating during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1921), the genre flourished and acquired its "epic" tones, along with the three-step narrative structure as described above.
Prior to widespead use of radio, popular corridos were passed around as an oral tradition, often to spread news of events and popular heroes, and popular humor, to the population, many of whom were illiterate prior to the improvements to the educational system that occurred after the Revolution. Academic study of corridos written during the Mexican revolution shows they were used as a means to communicate news throughout Mexico as a response to the propaganda being spread in the newspapers which were owned by the corrupt government of Pofirio D az. Sheet music of popular corridos were sold or included in publications. Other corrido sheets were passed out free as a form of propaganda, to eulogize leaders, armies, and political movements, or in some cases to mock the opposition. The best known Revolutionary corrido, is, of course, La cucaracha, an old song that was rephrased to celebrate the exploits of Pancho Villa's army and poke fun at his nemesis Venustiano Carranza.
With the consolidation of "Presidencialismo" (the political era following the Mexican Revolution) and the success of electronic mass-media, the corrido lost its primacy as a mass communications form, becoming part of a folklorist cult on one branch, and on another, the voice of the new subversives: oppressed workers, drug growers or traffickers; leftist activists, emigrated farmworkers (mainly to the USA)... This is what scholars call the "decaying" stage of the genre, which tends to erase the stylistic or structural characteristics of "revolutionary" or traditional corrido, without a clear and unified understanding of its evolution. This is mainly signified by the "narcocorrido", many of which are egocentric ballads paid for by drug smugglers to anonymous and almost illiterate composers (more about this asserts in Spanish_Wikipedia), but others coming from the most popular norteno and banda artists, and written by some of the most successful and influential ranchera composers.
In mestizo-Mexican cultural area the three variants of corrido (romance, revolutionary and modern) are both alive and sung, along with sister narrative-popular genres, such as the "valona" of Michoac n state, the "son arribe o" of the Sierra Gorda (Guanajuato, Hidalgo and Quer taro states) and others. Its vitality and flexibility allow original corrido lyrics to be built on non-Mexican musical genres, such as blues and ska, and even non-Spanish lyrics, like the ones composed or translated by Mexican indigenous communities or by the "Chicano" people in USA, in English or "Spanglish". The corrido was, for example, a favorite device employed by the Teatro Campesino led by Luis Valdez in mobilizing largely Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers in California during the 1960s.