Mariachi music is a familiar musical form recognized throughout Mexico and the United States, if not worldwide. However, the mariachi ensemble and music, as we know them today, have evolved greatly over time. Originally just one of many regional Mexican musical styles, change came in the 1930’s when mariachis gained the attention of the nascent electronic media in Mexico City. While mariachi ensembles have gained prominence and popularity beyond their state of origin, Jalisco, their instrumentation and repertoire have been modified, as well. Today, we expect trumpets, violins, guitars, vihuelas, and a guitarrón. At the turn of the 19th century, mariachi ensembles were smaller and much more likely to include only string instruments, with a repertoire was appropriate to that combination. Finding musicians with experience in this older style is rare.
A cowboy by profession, Julián González is from the state of Jalisco and has played in various mariachi ensembles during his life. Having learned from his own father and the elders of his community, he plays the mariachi of the 1800’s and his roots in the tradition include first-hand knowledge of the older sones, or songs, that use only the violin and string instruments in the rhythm section. Julián is excited to have the opportunity to share is musical knowledge with young, talented musicians who appreciate the older style mariachi repertoire.
In 2001, Julián was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with his apprentices Hugo Arroyo, Xavier Velázquez, and Tregar Otton. During their apprenticeship with Julián, the apprentices, already proven musicians and members of Los Cenzontles, focused on learning the older repertoire of mariachi music, as well as the stylistic components and techniques that distinguish this older music from the mariachi music that is already so familiar to the public.
Julián also participated in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2006 with apprentice, Lucina Rodriguez, who learned son abajeño rural mariachi dance. Son abajeño is a pre-commercial mariachi music and dance style from rural Jalisco, Mexico.