Son Jarocho Veracruz Sound

Revolutionary Music: Son Jarochos and Its Influence Today

What is Son Jarocho?

Son Jarocho is a traditional style of music originating from Veracruz, Mexico. The closest translation to the word son jarocho today is “Veracruz sound.” This genre of music is led by a small eight string instrument called a Jarana. This style of music is an adaptation of different cultures— Spanish, indigenous and African. 

 

Jarana. Source: Mission Cultural Center.

 

One of the earliest records of a son jarocho song is El chuchumbre which was prohibited and discouraged by the Catholic church in 1767. Most of son jarocho history is about fighting against colonialism and using music as a form of rebellion. In the research paper “The Son Jarocho as Afro-Mexican Resistance Music,” Micaela Diaz-Sanchez and Alexandro D. Hernandez speak to a Jaranero who describes the history of the people involved in protest, “todo lo que se hacía con las manos, se lo llevaron a la tarima” (All rhythms once played by hand were transferred to the tarima).

In other words, rhythms once performed on hand drums were reconfigured to the lower body. “The legs and feet replaced the percussive movement of the hands and the tarima became the source of percussion, which shaped the zapateado (percussive dance) of the son jarocho in particular, but also of México’s son music in general. Those who sang, played, or danced banned sones were punished and jailed during this time,” detail Diaz-Sanches and Hernandez. 

 

Fandangos. Source: World Literature Today.

 

Today, son jarocho is associated with what is known as Fandangos. “Fandangos are the heart of son jarocho,” a time for everyone to come together and dance around a wooden platform known as a tarima. While son jarocho is a genre of music, the actual gathering, singing, and dancing is just as much a part of its identity.

According to Cesar Castro, an important figure in the explosion of son jarocho in Los Angeles, son jarocho was a way for many young Mexican-Americans to connect to their Mexican heritage, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t dance, if you don’t play, if you don’t sing — you could be around it. It’s a whole experience that people, little by little, got the chance to be part of and feel something good.”   

 

Mono Blanco, a veteran Son Jarocho band from Veracruz, performs in Los Angeles. Source Betto Arcos.

 

Son jarocho was formally introduced to a wider audience in 1958 with the release of La Bamba by Ritchie Valens. As told in an Arts & Culture by Robert Spuhler, Ritchie Valens used old Sones (long songs played at fandangos) with verses from as far back as the 1800s, “its [La bamba’s] existence shot across the bow of a white-dominated culture.”

 

 

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Son jarocho today: Jarochicanos 

Today we see bands like Jarochicanos who are based from Chicago and continue to embrace the art of son jarocho and use it in a way to advocate for Latinx communities. Jarochicanos organizes many workshops for youth to get involved with the genre as a direct response to the “uprooting of our communities’ cultural and historical knowledge.” Their main goal is to provide a space in their urban setting to cultivate and nurture the culture and history of son jarocho

 


Flor Chavez Barriga | Oglethorpe University

Flor Chavez Barriga is an undergraduate student at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA studying History and Sociology with a focus on research. She was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and grew up in Atlanta surrounded by the rich history of Martin Luther King’s legacy. She previously attended Freedom University where she was given the opportunity to achieve higher education, while also learning about collective action and human rights. Flor is passionate about the south’s reaction to immigration with its restrictive policies and infamous detention centers. She hopes to highlight the voices of communities in the south that have helped combat all the hurdles that continue making immigrant lives harder.