On Corridos and communication: Taking a look at how ancient forms of expression influence modern music

By Georgia Andresen

The lights begin to illuminate the stage. The cowboy boots click-clack as the artist makes her way to center-stage. The music begins. Her voice fills the room.

Her songs are filled with the sad stories of boyfriends past and the trials and tribulations of a rough upbringing. Wait – the setting changes: now there is a man in the center of the stage, with a microphone in his hands.

A hard beat begins to fill the room. He starts rhythmically and poetically laying out the struggles he’s been through and fought through to be where he is today.

Country and Hip-Hop in particular are two popular genres of music that can be heard on USD’s campus. This may be because people like the easy, down-home sound of the country ballads and upbeat songs. People like to feel that underlying beat of the rap songs with various melodies layered on top.

People find these genres comforting because they can somehow relate to the lyrics or messages of the song.

Being able to identify with others, even if it is through song, helps to build community and shows support for an individual or group of people. Finding others who have been through similar situations helps people to keep breaking through barriers no matter what stands in their way.

This type of therapeutic music closely resembles the corridos of the time of the Mexican American War. Living in San Diego, there is a great amount of Hispanic culture around us everyday.
Take Old Town for example: go into any restaurant and you will most likely hear cultural music throughout the building.

Although there is a cheery mood of the sound of the music today, in the 1800s, the music would have had a very different mood.

Throughout the mid to late 1800s and even beyond that into the twentieth century, the Mexican American people were subject to many injustices. They faced not only personal discrimination in their day -to -day routines, but also structural discrimination.

One of the ways that they made it through each day was to form a social bond and support group with their peers.

Rather than become hostile and start fighting the government again, the Mexican American people started writing songs filled with folklore to give the people hope for a better future.
The corridos would capture their souls and remind them of certain hardships in their pasts that they were strong enough to make it through.

In most corridos, there is a hero that evades oppressors; this hero and his actions give hope for the people that they, too, can evade all of the oppressive hardships that they would face in their lives.
Much like the heroes in the corridos, usually the artist is the hero of their rap songs.

Having that emotion conveyed through their songs allows others to connect through shared experiences, as Freshman, Courtney Kant notes.

“I can connect to rap songs because they are portrayed in a somber mood and that makes it easier for me to feel the emotion that the artist expresses through the lyrics,” said Kant.
The same can also be said about country music artists. These artists sometimes draw upon very difficult past experiences to show how perseverance can get you through almost anything, which Freshman, Olivia Wunsch appreciates.

“Country music is one of the most heart-felt genres of music,” Wunsch explains. “Every [country] song is a story. It has a beginning, a middle and an end.”
Music in general, whether it is rap, country, classical or alternative provides people with a creative outlet through which they can express emotion that may not be able to feel in other facets of their lives.

For Junior, Caroline Vigneron, music exists also as much more, and especially as a means to build community.
“Music is the most interesting outlet because everyone has a different definition of what music is, and that’s what makes it so unique,” Vigneron said. “No one can say ‘that’s not music’ in response to a song because every individual characterizes music differently.”

Music is an unbelievable bonding agent. It has the power to unite different people under one creative outlet. A group of people who may not have anything in common can come together and create something that is uniquely theirs.”

Music is a way we as the human race can bond and support one another, whether we are a corrido or a Communications student.