Banda music

Last updated
Banda El Recodo Banda El Recodo Cancun.jpg
Banda El Recodo

Banda is a term to designate a style of Mexican music and the musical ensemble in which wind instruments, mostly of brass and percussion, are performed.


Bandas play a wide variety of songs, including rancheras, corridos, cumbias, baladas, and boleros.

Ranchera, or canción ranchera is a genre of the traditional music of Mexico. It dates before the years of the Mexican Revolution. It later became closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco. Ranchera today is also played by norteño or banda and Tamborazo. Drawing on rural traditional folk music, ranchera developed as a symbol of a new national consciousness in reaction to the aristocratic tastes of the period. Some well-known interpreters of the genre are the following singers: Amalia Mendoza, Antonio Aguilar, Chelo, Cuco Sánchez, Flor Silvestre, Irma Serrano, Javier Solís, Jorge Negrete, José Alfredo Jiménez, Lola Beltrán, Lucha Villa, Pedro Infante, Rocío Dúrcal, Vicente Fernández, and presently: Pedro Fernández and Pepe Aguilar.

Corrido Musical genre

The corrido is a popular narrative song and poetry that form a ballad. The songs are often about oppression, history, daily life for peasants, and other socially relevant topics. It is still a popular form today in Mexico and was widely popular during the Mexican Revolutions of the 20th century. The corrido derives largely from the romance, and in its most known form consists of a salutation from the singer and prologue to the story, the story itself, and a moral and farewell from the singer.

Cumbia music genre and dance from Colombia

Cumbia[ˈkumbja] is a folkloric rhythm and dance from Colombia. By the 1940s cumbia began spreading from the coast to other parts of Colombia alongside other costeña form of music, like porro and vallenato. Clarinetist Lucho Bermúdez helped bring cumbia into the country's interior. The early spread of cumbia internationally was helped by the number of record companies on the coast. Originally working-class populist music, cumbia was frowned upon by the elites, but as it spread, the class association subsided and cumbia became popular in every sector of society.. The researcher Guillermo Abadía Morales in his "Compendium of Colombian folklore", Volume 3, # 7, published in 1962, states that "this explains the origin in the zambo conjugation of musical air by the fusion of the melancholy indigenous gaita flute or caña de millo, i.e., Tolo or Kuisí, of Kuna or Kogi ethnic groups, respectively, and the cheerful and impetuous resonance from the African drums. The ethnographic council has been symbolized in the different dancing roles that correspond to each sex." The presence of these cultural elements can be appreciated thus:

The history of banda music in Mexico dates from the middle of the 19th century with the arrival of piston metal instruments, when the communities tried to imitate the military bands. The first bands were formed in Southern and Central Mexico. In each village of the different territories there are certain types of wind bands, whether traditional, private or municipal.

Traditional ensembles

Banda Reflejo Sinaloense MonumentalAlebrijeParade2015 221.JPG
Banda Reflejo Sinaloense

There are brass instruments in the state of Oaxaca that date back to 1850's. The repertoire of the bands of Morelos, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Michoacán covered gustos, sones, vinuetes, funeral pieces, marches, danzones, valses, corridos, paso dobles, polkas, rancheras, alabanzas and foxes.

The traditional bands that play Yucatecan jaranas use the following instruments: clarinet, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpet, trombone, timpani, drum drum, bass drum, cymbals, güiro.

A jarana is a guitar-like string instrument from Mexico. There are different regional versions of the jarana, notably:

The traditional Oaxacan bands use a large number of saxophones and clarinets, fewer trumpets and slide trombones, and the bass drum and cymbals are played separately.

One of the oldest bands recorded in Mexico is the Banda de Tlayacapan of the state of Morelos that was founded approximately in 1870, being one of the first to play la danza del Chinelo.

The traditional Zacatecan tamborazo band does not use tuba, being the tambora the instrument that takes the low tone.


Bandas play a large variety of genres, most commonly Rancheras, Polkas, Corridos, among others. Modern Bandas, however, have turned to record romantic ballads, leaving polkas and other danceable genres behind.

The polka is originally a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. The polka remains a popular folk music genre in many European countries, and is performed by folk artists in the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, Croatia and Finland, and to a lesser extent in Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Russia, and Slovakia. Local varieties of this dance are also found in the Nordic countries, Spain's Basque Country, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America and the United States.

Perhaps the most popular song played by Bandas is "El Sinaloense" ("The Sinaloan"), a song written by Severiano Briseño in 1944. "El Sinaloense" has been recorded by hundreds of Bandas, in both vocal and instrumental versions. The song has become so popular that many Sinaloans consider it as their unofficial anthem. [1] Other tunes that are commonly recorded by Bandas include "Arriba Pichátaro", "Juan Colorado", "El niño perdido", "Que me entierren con la banda", "Palo verde", among others.

Severiano Briseño Chávez was a Mexican composer born in the State of San Luis Potosí, and died in Mexico City. He was a founding partner of the national society of authors and composers, Sociedad de Autores y Compositores de México (SACM).


Banda Sinaloense at the start of 1900 Band's Sinaloa.jpg
Banda Sinaloense at the start of 1900

The history of banda music in Mexico dates from the middle of the 19th century with the arrival of piston metal instruments, when the communities tried to imitate the military bands. In each village of the different territories there are certain types of wind bands, whether traditional, private or municipal.

Banda music was established in the 1880s in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, when it exploded into popularity in the 1890s throughout Mexico. Its roots come from the overlapping of Mexican music with German polka music. At the time, many German Mexicans lived in the states of Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Jalisco and Nuevo León. This greatly influenced northern Mexican music. Immigrants from northern Mexico brought the music to the United States. Initially popular in the southwest United States, primarily in Texas, California and Arizona, banda has followed the movement of Mexican immigrants to the Midwest United States and the rest of the country. Mexicans who came in contact with Latin-based Jazz of Chicanos or Mexicans born and raised in the United States adopted jazz-like sounds in banda to further enrich the music type.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Throughout the 20th century, Banda music was traditionally confined to the states of Sinaloa, Jalisco and Zacatecas, whereas Mariachi and other Regional Mexican genres enjoyed more popularity in the rest of the country. However, in the 1990s Banda music started to become popular throughout the country, eventually becoming the dominant Regional Mexican genre in the XXI century.

La Arrolladora in 2012. Arrolladora Banda Limon AccesoTotal.jpg
La Arrolladora in 2012.

Banda El Recodo, La Arrolladora, La Original Banda El Limón, Banda MS, La Septima Banda, Banda Cuisillos, Banda Jerez, Banda Los Recoditos and La Adictiva are some of the most famous bandas. Famous soloists include Valentín Elizalde, Julio Preciado, Lupillo Rivera, Sergio Vega, Roberto Tapia, Espinoza Paz and Julión Álvarez. While not known primarily as a banda singer, Juan Gabriel also recorded in the genre. Despite banda being a male-dominated genre, there are a few female soloist banda-singers such as Graciela Beltran, [2] Carmen Jara, Diana Reyes, Beatriz Adriana, Yolanda Pérez and Ninel Conde. Examples of females soloist who have recorded in the genre while not known mainly as banda singers include, Ana Gabriel, Alicia Villareal, and Ana Barbara. There's also a handful all-female bandas such as Banda Las Soñadoras and Banda Las Tapatias, both from Guadalajara, Jalisco. Jenni Rivera, the highest earning solo banda singer of all-time has been attributed to bringing a female perspective to what had historically been a male-dominated genre. [3] [4] [5] Recently an upcoming solo artist has emerged by the name of Andrea Ferrera, she has shown to be successful selling out stadiums across both The United States and Mexico.

The 2010s wave of popularity of the tuba in Southern California has been credited to its presence in banda music. [6] As of 2017 El Salvador started having their own Banda music.

Traditional Banda Sound

Jenni Rivera, the highest-earning banda singer of all time. Jenni Rivera at the Gibson.jpg
Jenni Rivera, the highest-earning banda singer of all time.

A typical banda is made up of brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The most notable instrument is the tambora which is a type of bass drum with a head made from animal hide, with a cymbal on top. Bandas were previously called "tamboras", named after this drum. The tambora is played in a strong and embellished manner, which provides the drive for the rest of the band. The percussion section also includes the tarola which is a snare with timbales which would resemble the tom-toms on a regular drumset, cowbells, and cymbals. Banda el Recodo, one of the most famous bandas, [7] features three trumpets, four clarinets, three valve trombones or slide trombones, two E alto horns, and one sousaphone.

Like an orchestra, a banda can be organized into different sections.

  1. Bass: The lowest-pitched part is played by the sousaphone (referred to as a "tuba" in Mexico), accompanied by the tambora, a large bass drum with a cymbal on top.

Most banda arrangements feature three-part harmony and melodic sections which contrast the timbres of the clarinet, trumpet, and valve trombone sections.

Bandas play many different styles including waltzes, cumbias, polkas, marches, foxtrots, rock ballads, rancheras and sones. Historically bandas were village brass bands called on to entertain the town, and would play anything from opera overtures to big band jazz. This tradition continues today in many towns, especially during festivals and celebrations.

Bandas usually have a strong percussion. The percussionists generally provide the accents and do not usually play all the time or keep a 'groove'. Often the percussionists will enter only when the singer is not singing, such as in an instrumental chorus. The groove is mostly provided by the sousaphone (or bass guitar in a few recordings) playing the bass line, and the alto horns playing sharp upbeats. Typically when a banda plays a cumbia, the alto horn players switch to Latin percussion instruments such as maracas, cowbell, congas, bongos and guiro.

Bandas generally contain between 10 and 20 members. They usually have a lead singer and a second voice, and occasionally a third voice. The voice often consists of a duet, but solo singers and trios are also common.

Besides the typical instrumentation, banda music, as well as many other forms of traditional Mexican music, is also noted for the grito mexicano, a yell that is done at musical interludes within a song, either by the musicians and/or the listening audience.

Espinoza Paz Espinoza paz.jpg
Espinoza Paz


In the late 1980s, a new sub-genre of regional Mexican music was created in the state of Nayarit called Technobanda. It is essentially a mix of traditional Banda with Grupero music. Its popularity spread to many nearby states as well as the United States. In this subgenre, some or all of the horns are replaced by electric instruments. A typical Technobanda will substitute a sousaphone with an electric bass and the two alto horns with a synthesizer and an electric guitar. The clarinets are frequently replaced with saxophones. Drums are also used. Technobanda popularized the dance-style of the Quebradita.

Examples of well-known Technobandas:

Tierra Caliente

In the early 1990s, another sub-genre of regional Mexican music was created in the state of Michoacan called Tierra Caliente, also known as Calentano. Like Technobanda, it uses electric instruments like an electric bass and synthesizers, as well as trumpets, saxophones and drums. Some artists also use accordions. Tierra Caliente’s popularity was originally limited to the Calentano regions of Mexico, but it went on to gain popularity throughout many parts of the country, as well as in the United States.

Examples of well-known Tierra Caliente bandas:


Tamborazo is closely related to traditional Banda. However, Tamborazo uses saxophones instead of clarinets. Another difference from banda is that Tamborazo uses its drum consistently, as opposed to banda which distributes the use of the other instruments throughout a song. Tamborazo originated in Villanueva in the state of Zacatecas. Tamborazo uses various instruments such as:

Examples of well-known Tamborazos:

See also

Related Research Articles

Musical ensemble group of people who perform instrumental and/or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name

A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Some music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.

Jimmy Sturr American musician

James W. Sturr, Jr. is an American polka musician, trumpeter, clarinetist, saxophonist and leader of Jimmy Sturr & His Orchestra. His recordings have won 18 out of the 24 Grammy Awards given for Best Polka Album. Sturr's orchestra is on the Top Ten List of the All-Time Grammy Awards, and has acquired more Grammy nominations than anyone in the history of musical polka awards.

Jazz band musical ensemble that plays jazz music

A jazz band is a musical ensemble that plays jazz music. Jazz bands vary in the quantity of its members and the style of jazz that they play but it is common to find a jazz band made up of a rhythm section and a horn section.

Music of Mexico

The music of Mexico is very diverse and features a wide range of musical genres and performance styles. It has been influenced by a variety of cultures, most notably the culture of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Europe. Music was an expression of Mexican nationalism, beginning in the nineteenth century.

Contrabass refers to several musical instruments of very low pitch—generally one octave below bass register instruments. While the term most commonly refers to the double bass, many other instruments in the contrabass register exist.

Norteño (music) genre of Mexican music related to polka and corridos

Norteño or Norteña, also música norteña, is a genre of Mexican music from Northern Mexico, hence the name. The music is most often based on a polka or waltz tempo and its lyrics often deal with socially relevant topics. The famous corridos are considered Norteña music. The accordion and the bajo sexto are norteño's most characteristic instruments, but the genre can include brass bands as well. Norteña music developed in the late 19th century, as a mixture between German folk music, and local Northern Mexican music.

Banda el Recodo Mexican band

Banda Sinaloense el Recodo de Don Cruz Lizárraga, often referred to as Banda el Recodo, is a Mexican banda formed in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, México in 1938; it has been under the direction of the Lizárraga family. Banda el Recodo has performed with such popular artists as Juan Gabriel and Pedro Infante.

Banda Jerez is a Mexican banda group from Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico formed in the late 1980s. Banda Jerez's hits include "Billete Verde", "Una Mujer Casada" "Tan Bonita", "Cerveza Helada", "La Cabrona", "La Baraja","tamarindo", and "la iguana". The band was named after Jerez de García Salinas, Zacatecas, Mexico, where it was founded. Banda Jerez re-works traditional ranchera songs, from Antonio Aguilar Vicente Fernández Heriberto Lazcano and José Alfredo Jiménez. The ensemble of members consist of vocalists Marco Antonio Flores, and Rafael Juárez, and three clarinettists, three trumpeters, three trombonists, two Charchetas, a tambora, a tarola, and a tuba player. They are known for their explicit lyrics.

Written in 1923, the English Folk Song Suite is one of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams's most famous works for military band. It was published originally as simply Folk Song Suite. Its premiere was given at Kneller Hall on 4 July 1923, conducted by Lt Hector Adkins.

Regional styles of Mexican music vary greatly vary from state to state. Norteño, banda, duranguense, Mexican Son music and other Mexican country music genres are often known as regional Mexican music because each state produces different musical sounds and lyrics.

Duranguense music genre closely related to the Mexican styles of banda and norteño

Duranguense is a subgenre of Regional Mexican music. It surged to large-scale popularity during the mid 2000’s among the Chicano community in the United States, as well as in Mexico. The main instruments are the saxophone, trombone, synthesizer and tambora. Among the Duranguense elements carried over from other genres is el tamborazo; a heavy percussion line consisting of the bass drum and varied snare drum rolls. This genre popularized the dance style, Pasito Durangense.

Dutch Swing College Band band

The Dutch Swing College Band "DSCB" is a traditional dixieland band founded on 5 May 1945 by bandleader and clarinettist/saxophonist Peter Schilperoort.

The Cougar Marching Band is the marching band of Washington State University. With over 200 members, the Cougar Marching Band performs at every home football game and select away games.

Krency Garcia, better known as El Prodigio, is a famous merengue típico accordionist from Cabrera, Dominican Republic. He is known throughout the genre for his rapid instrumental solos, his origination of fusion in merengue tipico with genres like jazz, and his rivalry with fellow accordionists, Geovanny Polanco and Kerube. While the latter two are slightly more traditional, El Prodigio is more experimental, and has included instruments such as trombone, trumpet, and wurlitzer piano in his lineup, along with the standard accordion, tambora, güira, conga, electric bass, and saxophones of today's merengue tipico.

Bombo criollo

The bombo criollo, or simply bombo, is a family of Latin American drums derived from the European bass drum and native Latin American drum traditions. These drums are of smaller dimensions than the orchestral bass drum, and their frame can be made of wood or steel. They can be held vertically or diagonally on the body or a stand. The specific make of the instrument depends on the regional tradition. In Argentina, the bombo criollo is called bombo legüero. In Cuba, it is known as bombo de comparsa due to its use in comparsas. In other countries, the term tambora is commonly used.

B-Side Players

The B-Side Players are a San Diego based band that incorporate the sounds of Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and Brazil with the funk, rock, jazz and hip-hop rhythms of their homeland. The band also drops a bit of Cumbia, gritty street Samba, Son Montuno and Jarocho into the mix. Described as War meets Lenny Kravitz by way of Ben Harper, the players have expanded their sound by playing with the likes of Harper, Ozomatli, The Wailers, James Brown, War and some of Cuba's best bands. Formed in 1994, they are signed to Jazz label Concord Music Group.

The Power Sound of the South

The Power Sound of the South is the marching band of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. While the band serves as ambassadors to the university in a number of settings, their primary function is to support the NC State football team both at home in Carter–Finley Stadium and on the road. The Power Sound of the South performs at all home football games and select away games. The band has also represented NC State internationally, in countries including Ireland and Spain.

Banda Conmoción are a Chilean ensemble band who mix cumbia and gypsy music with genres such as ska and cha-cha-cha. They are part of the new Latin American fusion movement and emerged in the early naughties along with groups like Chico Trujillo and La Floripondio. They are also considered part of the New Chilean Cumbia movement.

The Delphian Jazz Orchestra is a seventeen piece ensemble based in New York City that performs the music of composer Justin Mullens and poet Justina Mejias.

Military Band Service of the Armed Forces of Russia Ceremonial music organization in the Russian military

The Military Band Service of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation serves as the official service of military bands in active service within the Russian Armed Forces and formerly the Soviet Armed Forces.


  1. "¿Quién escribio el Sinaloense?". Mazatleco. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  2. "AllMusic Review by Phil Freeman".
  3. "The Death of an Independent Latina: Jenni Rivera (1969-2012)". Time. 10 December 2012.
  4. Cobo, Leila (December 9, 2012). "Jenni Rivera, Big-Voiced Queen of Banda, Dead at 43". Billboard . Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  5. Mejía, Iván. "Exposición 'Jenni Rivera, la Gran Señora'". Vivelohoy (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2015-04-17. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
  6. ""Tuba Raids" Plague Schools in California".
  7. "Banda El Recodo banda member Aldo Sarabia murdered".