The VIHUELA MEXICANA is a traditional instrument used in Mariachi music. It is physically similar to the Guitarrón but on a smaller scale. The sound produced from this musical instrument is that of a tenor guitar. The body or the sound box is much smaller than a guitar, and the vihuela has a convex back. In Spanish, it is called “la
Viheula Tuning and Strings
The Vihuela Mexicana has 5 strings and is tuned similarly to the guitar. The difference is the G, D, and A strings are tuned an octave higher than a guitar. Thus it gives the instrument a higher pitch.
This instrument is strummed (
The Function in Mariachi Music
Melodic lines are not usually played with the Vihuela Mexicana. It is considered a stringed chordal instrument. The role of the Vihuela Mexicana functions as the secondary rhythmic support instrument to the Guitarrón. It provides the rhythmic, syncopated pulse and musical guide along with the Guitarrón and the guitar. The Vihuela Mexicana provides and maintains the tonality for the ensemble, which is the pitch preference. The Guitarrón, Vihuela Mexicana and Guitar together are commonly referred to as the rhythm section or las armonías).
The Vihuela Mexicana was the instrument preferred by the mariachi musicians in central Jalisco.