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|Mariachi is an urban style of son jarocho that originated in the central part of Mexico and was found from the city of Guadalajara to the south-central state of Michoacan. The origin of the name has been attributed to its being a derivation of the French word "marriage," but it may be a combination of the name "Maria" with the Nahuatl diminutive suffix "chi" (Nahuatl was an indigenous Indian language widely spoken in the area). The original ensemble consisted of two violins, a vihuela (also known as guitara de golpe -- a regional name for a small guitar with five strings), jarana (a slightly larger five-string guitar), and harp. In the 20th century, guitarron (a large, acoustic bass guitar with four strings) replaced the harp, which was awkward to transport. In the 1930s, two trumpets were added, and the resulting ensemble -- two trumpets, two violins, jarana, vilhuela, and guitarron -- has been popularized through films, radio, TV, and sound recordings. There are professional and semi-professional mariachi groups, but the main purpose of these groups is to make a living playing music rather than being attached to particular community functions. Aside from the sound of a mariachi band, they are most recognizable for their "uniform," which is quite ornate. Because mariachis usually make their living by strolling from place to place in search of good money -- on street corners or restaurants -- their instruments are portable. Mariachis are a common sight in the Zona Rosa and the Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City.|
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