Corrido

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Corrido sheet music celebrating the entry of Francisco I. Madero into Mexico City in 1911.

The corrido (Spanish pronunciation: [koˈriðo]) is a popular narrative song and poetry form, a ballad. The songs are often about oppression, history, daily life for peasants, and other socially relevant topics.[1] It is still a popular form today in Mexico and was widely popular during the Nicaraguan 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.

History[edit]

An example of a corrido song sheet or sheet music, this one from 1915 at the height of the Mexican Revolution

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 an apparent linguistic and musical simplicity that lent itself to 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 later mainstream 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.

A contemporary corrido song sheet of La cucaracha issued during the Mexican Revolution. Note the original lyrics and the reference to cartoncitos, which were a type of scrip issued as pay.

Prior to widespead use of radio, popular corridos were passed around as an oral tradition, often to spread news of events (for example, the La cárcel de Cananea) 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 that 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 Díaz. 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 in one branch and, in another, the voice of the new subversives: oppressed workers, drug growers or traffickers, leftist activists and emigrated farmworkers (mainly to the USA). This is what scholars designate as 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 assertion in Spanish_Wikipedia), but with others coming from the most popular norteño and banda artists, and written by some of the most successful and influential ranchera composers.

Performed by Sean Buss & Elisa

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Song about the battle of Ciudad Juarez title Toma de Ciudad Juárez

In the mestizo-Mexican cultural area the three variants of corrido (romance, revolutionary and modern) are both alive and sung, along with popular sister narrative genres, such as the "valona" of Michoacán state, the "son arribeño" of the Sierra Gorda (Guanajuato, Hidalgo and Querétaro 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 with non-Spanish lyrics, like the ones composed or translated by Mexican indigenous communities or by the "Chicano" people in the 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.

Corridos have over the last decade seen a renaissance. As this musical format has been revived, the "narcocorrido" has arisen. [2]

Some corridos may also be love stories. Also, there are corridos about women ("La Venganza de Maria," "Laurita Garza," "La tragedia de Rosita and la adelita") and couples, not just about men. Some even employ fictional stories invented by their composers. Contemporary corridos written within the past few decades feature more modern themes such as drug trafficking (narcocorridos), immigration, migrant labor and even the Chupacabra.[3] A common example is "La Cucaracha" which is derived from an Arabic sailors' song from the Moors prior the Reconquista.

Form[edit]

Corridos, like rancheras, have introductory instrumental music and adornos interrupting the stanzas of the lyrics. However, unlike rancheras, the rhythm of a corrido remains fairly consistent. The corrido has a rhythm similar to that of the European waltz; rancheras can be banda, played at a variety of rhythms. Corridos often tell stories, while rancheras are for dancing.

Like rancheras, corridos can be played by mariachi, norteño, duranguense, Tejano and grupero bands. The instruments used to play the song differ with the type of band that plays the corrido.

Notable corrido singers[edit]

Musical characteristics[edit]

The corrido was originally performed as a melodically simple tune with guitar accompaniment. It was performed in waltz time and now commonly adopts a polka rhythm. Since the commercialization of the corrido, it is often performed by conjuntos produced professionally by recording companies.

Films[edit]

  • 2006 - Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side). Directed by Natalia Almada.
  • 2007 - El Violin (The Violin) directed by Francisco Vargas
  • 2008 - El chrysler 300: Chuy y Mauricio Directed by Enrique Murillo
  • 2009 - El Katch (The Katch) Directed by Oscar Lopez

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walkowitz, Daniel. Memory and the impact of political transformation in public space. p. 255. 
  2. ^ Hodgson, Martin (19 September 2004). "Death in the midday sun". Observer Music Monthly. Manchester Guardian. Retrieved August 29, 2012. .
  3. ^ Davis, Mike. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster. p. 269. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Americo Paredes. With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and its Hero (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958)
  • Richard Flores. "The Corrido and the Emergence of Texas-Mexican Social Identity" (Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 105, Spring 1992)
  • Dan Dickey. The Kennedy Corridos: A Study of the Ballads of a Mexican American Hero (Center for Mexican-American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1978)
  • Merle Simmons. The Mexican Corrido as a Source of an Interpretive Study of Modern Mexico, 1870–1950 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1957).

External links[edit]