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The jarana jarocha is a guitar-shaped fretted stringed instrument from the southern region of the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Typically strung with 8 strings in 5 courses, usually arranged in two single outer strings with three double-courses in between. The strings are usually nylon, although they were gut in the past. The body is somewhat narrower than a guitar because of its direct lineage from the Spanish baroque guitar of the sixteenth century. Sometimes mistaken for a ukulele, the jarana jarocha comes in at least five sizes, the smallest being the chaquiste, somewhat smaller than a soprano ukulele; then the mosquito, about the size of a soprano ukulele; the 'primera', about the size of a concert ukulele; the 'segunda', in length between a tenor and a baritone ukulele; and the 'tercera', somewhat longer than the baritone ukulele. Some luthiers are building jaranas of a size they label "tercerola" or "jarana cuarta", but there is some discussion as to whether these represent a distinct size or are merely particularly large variations of the standard tercera.
The jarana traditionally features a singular type of construction; the body is carved to shape from a solid piece of wood (traditionally Spanish cedar), and it is then hollowed out, with a separate soundboard and fingerboard applied. Other Mexican and South American folk guitars derivative of Spanish instruments are also made this way, notably the charango of Bolivia.
The sound is distinctive—it does not sound like either a ukulele or a guitar. It is almost a percussion instrument in the way it is played, with an accented down and double upstroke pattern that almost mimics the zapateado steps of the dancers. The sound depends on the wood used and the size of the instrument. Jaranas by different makers tend to have different voices even when made of the same woods because of method of manufacture, etc.
The jarana primera tends to have a high and sharp voice, while the segunda has a more tenor, shimmering voice. The tercera has a deep and sonorous voice, and the tiny chaquiste and mosquito often have shrill voices.
The jarana is used to great effect with other instruments such as the 'arpa jarocha' or Veracruz folk harp, the 'guitarra de son' which is almost identical to the jarana but for the fact that it has four strings that are plucked with a long plectrum usually made of cowhorn (thus making it a melodic rather than rhythm instrument) and because it is used as a lead instrument in vocal music.
Although the jarana usually has eight strings arranged in five courses (a single course, followed by three doubles, then another single), many jaranas are now being produced with 4 double courses, often tuned GG CC EE AA. Leonardo Zendejas of the group Son de Barro has commented that the absence of the bottom G string makes chord shapes and climbing the finger board on these instruments much easier than on more traditional 5-course jaranas. Gilberto Gutierrez Silva, luthier and founder of the group Mono Blanco, has created his own variation—a jarana with three courses of triple-strings, tuned GGG CCC EEE (the same tuning as the Cuban tres). He has named this variation the "tresera".
The steel-string acoustic guitar is a modern form of guitar that descends from the nylon-strung classical guitar, but is strung with steel strings for a brighter, louder sound. Like the classical guitar, it is often referred to simply as an acoustic guitar.
The classical guitar is a member of the guitar family used in classical music. An acoustic wooden string instrument with strings made of gut or nylon, it is a precursor of the modern acoustic and electric guitars, both of which use metal strings. Classical guitars are derived from the Spanish vihuela and gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, which later evolved into the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Baroque guitar and later the modern classical guitar in the mid-nineteenth century.
The ukulele is a member of the lute family of instruments. It generally employs four nylon strings.
The cavaquinho is a small Portuguese string instrument in the European guitar family, with four wire or gut strings.
The term requinto is used in both Spanish and Portuguese to mean a smaller, higher-pitched version of another instrument. Thus, there are requinto guitars, drums, and several wind instruments.
A tiple, is a plucked-string chordophone of the guitar family. A tiple player is called a tiplista. The first mention of the tiple comes from musicologist Pablo Minguet e Irol in 1752. Although many variations of the instrument exist, the tiple is mostly associated with Colombia, and is considered the national instrument.
Bajo sexto is a Mexican string instrument from the guitar family with 12 strings in six double courses. A closely related instrument is the bajo quinto which has 10 strings in five double courses.
The cuatro is a family of Latin American string instruments played in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and other Latin American countries. It is derived from the Spanish guitar. Although some have viola-like shapes, most cuatros resemble a small to mid-sized classical guitar. In Puerto Rico and Venezuela, the cuatro is an ensemble instrument for secular and religious music, and is played at parties and traditional gatherings.
Plucked string instruments are a subcategory of string instruments that are played by plucking the strings. Plucking is a way of pulling and releasing the string in such a way as to give it an impulse that causes the string to vibrate. Plucking can be done with either a finger or a plectrum.
Son jarocho is a regional folk musical style of Mexican Son from Veracruz, a Mexican state along the Gulf of Mexico. It evolved over the last two and a half centuries along the coastal portions of southern Tamaulipas state and Veracruz state, hence the term jarocho, a colloquial term for people or things from the port city of Veracruz.
Son huasteco is one of eight Mexican song styles and is a traditional Mexican musical style originating in the six state area of Northeastern Mexico called La Huasteca. It dates back to the end of the 19th century and is influenced by Spanish and indigenous cultures. Usually it is played by a Trio Huasteco composed of a guitarra quinta huapanguera a Jarana huasteca and a violin. Singers will often use the falsetto register. The son huasteco is particularly noteworthy for its flamboyant and virtuoso violin parts, although the style varies from state to state. Footwork often danced to son huasteco is the Zapateado. Improvisation plays a strong role in the style, with musicians creating their own lyrics and arrangements to a standard repertoire. Typical sones huastecos are "Cielito lindo", "La huazanga", "La sirena", "El querreque" and "La cigarra".
On a stringed instrument, a break in an otherwise ascending order of string pitches is known as a re-entry. A re-entrant tuning, therefore, is a tuning where the strings are not all ordered from the lowest pitch to the highest pitch.
A guitalele, also called a ukitar, or kīkū, is a guitar-ukulele hybrid, that is, "a 1/4 size" guitar, a cross between a classical guitar and a tenor or baritone ukulele. The guitalele combines the portability of a ukulele, due to its small size, with the six single strings and resultant chord possibilities of a classical guitar. It may include a built-in microphone that permits playing the guitalele either as an acoustic guitar or connected to an amplifier. The guitalele is variously marketed as a travel guitar or children's guitar. It is essentially a modern iteration of the Quint guitar.
The requinto jarocho or guitarra de son is plucked string instrument, played usually with a special pick. It is a four- or five-stringed instrument that has originated from Veracruz, Mexico.
A jarana is a guitar-like string instrument from Mexico. There are different regional versions of the jarana, notably:
The arpa jarocha is a large wooden harp that is normally played while standing, although early examples from the 16th through the first three or four decades of the 19th centuries were smaller and were played while seated. It has a wooden frame, a resonator, a flat soundboard, 32-36 nylon strings, and does not have pedals. This harp is tuned diatonically over five octaves. The top of its soundboard sometimes arches outward due to the tension of the strings. Unlike other Mexican harps, the arpa jarocha has its sound holes located on the back of the sound board instead of on the front.
The Guitarrón Chileno is a guitar-shaped plucked string instrument from Chile, with 25 or 24 (rarely) strings. Its primary contemporary use is as the instrumental accompaniment for the traditional Chilean genre of singing poetry known as Canto a lo Poeta, though a few virtuosi have also begun to develop the instrument's solo possibilities.
Son mexicano is a category of Mexican folk music and dance that encompasses various regional genres, all of which are called son. The term son literally means "sound" in Spanish, and is also applied to other unrelated genres, most notably son cubano.
Cambalache is a Son Jarocho band based in East Los Angeles, California. They are the one of key bands at the center of the son jarocho explosion in Los Angeles in 2010s.