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Mariachi Percussion?
By Randy Hargis
9/9/2013 5:04:00 PM  

Mariachi is a genre of music that originated in the State of Jalisco, in Mexico. It is an integration of stringed instruments highly influenced by the cultural impacts of the historical development of Western Mexico. The United States has experienced a surge in the interest in this genre of music. People of all cultures can enjoy, as well as participate, in this unique music which is full of emotion, passion and excitement. There are many thriving school Mariachi programs in the USA churning out talented performers from all races and ethnic backgrounds.

Mariachi ensembles are generally comprised of violins, trumpets, guitars, vihuelas and guitarron. So what about Mariachi percussion? Sounds silly?  Well, actually through the years some Mariachi groups have added percussion instruments to their ensembles, but it was and is rare. What is not rare is the percussive element that does exist in Mariachi music, void of actual percussion instruments. This drive and percussive element is achieved through the string section.

As a percussionist myself, I have been fortunate to learn about all types drums, shakers and the like (especially since joining West Music in January of 2011) so I was excited to learn about how Mariachi professionals create that rhythm section sound without a drummer keeping the beat.

VihuelaGuitar

The vihuela and six string guitar provide the rhythmic sound, the back beat if you will, we experience when enjoying a Mariachi performance. The precise strumming techniques, down strokes, upstrokes, using the hand to mute the strings and at the same time using the body of the guitar over the sound hole as a sort of drum create a unique percussive sound.

At a recent Mariachi workshop in Texas I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Mariachi educators whom themselves also perform with Mariachi ensembles when not mentoring our youth in the art. It became obvious that the classical guitar tone is crucial in its support of the guitarron and vihuela. One prevalent topic I encountered when discussing instruction of young musicians in Mariachi music was the quality of the instruments the students bring to class. Of course, we at West Music have the finest guitarrones and vihuelas available but it was our Westwood line of classical guitars that really grabbed these instructors attention. The above mentioned strumming techniques translate very well on the Westwood guitars because of their fine resonate and durable qualities. The teachers also confided in me that a student might bring an inexpensive guitar purchased through alternative outlets or rent an instrument from the school for a year for around $100.00 a year, while they can own a quality Westwood guitar for less.

Included with each of our Westwood guitars are a high quality gig bag, guitar strap, and strap end pin.

 1/2-size is perfect for ages 5-8 or height of player between 3’10” to 4’5” tall
 3/4-size is perfect for ages 8-12 or height of player between 4’6” to 4’11” tall
 Full-size is perfect for ages 12 & up or height of player 5’ or taller

Westwood Educational Classical Guitars

Length

Depth

Upper Bout

Lower Bout

1/2-Size WWCG32 (#302275) Guitar

32"

2 7/8"

9 1/8"

11 /1/2"

3/4-Size WWCG36 (#302276) Guitar

36"

3"

9 1/2"

13"

Full-Size WWCG39 (#302277) Guitar

39"

3 1/8"

11 3/4"

14 1/2"

We encourage you to have a look at these instruments and see what these teachers saw as an excellent choice to bring together their string sections for a more rounded sound at an amazing price. You might also want to share this with your student’s parents so they can insure their children are playing an instrument that will encourage them to practice and stay excited about this wonderful cultural, musical, experience.

 Westwood Classical Guitar

Check out the full line of Westwood Classical Guitars




Tags: N/A
Categories: Drums & Percussion, Mariachi
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All About the Harmony Melodia
By Randy Hargis
2/1/2012 9:25:00 AM  

The Melodia is a free-reed instrument, meaning a tone is produced when air is blown over a vibrating reed. The origin of these types of instruments is thought to be from the end of the 18th century in China and Japan which inspired more modern European versions in the 19th century. Also known as a blow-organ or key-flute, these are similar to the harmonica and when playing chords resemble the sound produced by an accordion. This instrument is known by many names from various manufacturers, the Harmony Melodia is West Music’s proprietary brand.

Modern Melodias are widely recognized for their use in music education.  The Harmony Melodia, H4J32, is a 32 key instrument (starts F below middle C) with a piano keyboard that can be played held with both hands using the direct- blow mouth piece or placed on a table using an extension tube with mouth piece which are both included. This instrument also includes a deluxe, padded, zippered carrying case.  Its' small size and portability make it an excellent option for students to learn chords and melodies at school and home. As with most wind instruments the Melodia has a spit valve for removing moisture that accumulates during playing.

While this instrument is known for music instruction, it is also used regularly by modern recording and performing artists representing various styles of music. The H4J32 is ideal for both students and advanced players.

While there aren’t many options out there for Melodia books, beginner piano books can be used for learning scales and basic keyboard techniques. The Pop Keyboard Course Intro and 1st book are good places to start, as is the Ultimate Beginner Series: Keyboard Basics Mega Pak. 




Tags: melodia, blow organ, key flute, Harmony Melodia
Categories: Guitars & Folk
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