Often these tales were set to music.
The availability of printed material, radio and visual media has not extinguished this oral tradition. In Mexico, it has evolved into today’s ‘corrido.’
The Corrido in History:
The corrido gained a large following around the time of the Mexican-American War (1840s). Almost the entire war with America was preserved in the texts of these songs.
Other popular themes revolved around the worker’s plight, romance, nostalgia for hearth & home. But the corrido gained significant momentum during the days of the dictator Porforito Diaz and the ensuing resistance that led to the Mexican revolution (1910–1920). Popular heroes immortalized in song included Emiliano Zapata, Pascual Orozco and Pancho Villa.
“La Cucaracha” is a song known by every American schoolchild. During this period it was altered to become a popular song of Mexico’s revolution. In the modified corrido, the lyrics were changed to reflect the political rivalry battle between Venustiano Carranza and the troops of Zapata and Villa.
With the onset of large-scale immigration to the U.S. the corrido themes started to concentrate on the life of migrant workers, immigration and stories of the lives of these immigrants. The reality of these lives included tales of drug trafficking as those who could find no other work turned the drug trade. These songs became known as narcocorridos.
The Music of Corrido:
Corrido rhythms are not set; they can be a polka, waltz or march. The march and polka tempos are used more often for upbeat topics while the waltz often carries more tragic stories.
While the corrido is a story told to music, the actual instrumentation and style of the music depends on the musical region of the band or conjunto that is performing the song. There are corridos performed by groups classified as norteno, banda, duranguense and others. The music will reflect that specific style while telling the same story with basically the same lyrics – although lyrics can change to suit the social and political mood of the area and of the moment.
Popular Corrido Bands:
Today the corrido has once again become one of the most popular forms of Mexican regional music. There are many groups that perform corrido, but the most notable of these are Los Tigres del Norte who have played a major role in the composition and popularity of today’s contemporary corrido.
Among the other popular groups that play corrido are Los Cuates de Sinaloa, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, El Tigrillo Palma, Patrulla 81, Ramon Ayala and many more.