The latest Google Doodle celebrates the musical genre of mariachi—an important element of Mexico’s cultural heritage. The Doodle marks the anniversary of the week that UNESCO inscribed mariachi on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity back in November 2011.
Mariachi, which can refer either to the music or the musicians themselves, is typically characterized by a small group of musicians dressed in traditional clothing playing Mexican songs on mostly stringed instruments.
The Google Doodle video features a mariachi serenade of “Cielito Lindo,” which roughly translates from Spanish as “lovely sweet one” and is a symbol of Mexican pride and community.
The mariachi band in the Google Doodle sing the following lyrics: “De la Sierra Morena/cielito lindo, vienen bajando/Un par de ojitos negros/cielito lindo, de contrabando.
“Ay, ay, ay, ay/Canta y no llores/Porque cantando se alegran/cielito lindo, los corazones.”
These lyrics translate to “From the Sierra Morena/Lovely sweet one, is prancing down/A pair of little black eyes/Lovely sweet one, is sneaking by.
“Ay, ay, ay, ay/Sing, don’t cry/Because singing makes rejoice/Lovely sweet one, our hearts.”
In the Doodle, the mariachi band—wearing traditional trajes de charro (charro suits)—plays the key instruments of the genre, including the guitarrón (a six-string bass), vihuela (a five-string guitar), violin, trumpet, and harp.
The tradition of mariachi originated in west-central Mexico around the turn of the 19th century, though its exact origins are murky. The musical genre began as entirely instrumental, made up of the sounds of stringed instruments, before vocals and the trumpet were eventually added.
Nowadays, mariachi music is often combined with elements of other genres, including jazz and reggae. Singers will often add a grito—an interjection or exclamation—to express the emotion of the music.
The lyrics of mariachi songs express a love of the earth, hometown, native land, religion, nature, fellow countrywomen, and the strength of the country, according to UNESCO.
Most people learn traditional mariachi by ear and the skill is usually passed down from fathers to sons through performances at festive, religious, and civil events. The music is used to express respect for the natural heritage of Mexico and local history, in the Spanish language and the different native languages of Western Mexico.
While the music can vary, mariachi as a genre remains an important representation of Mexican history and culture. Google Doodle says: “¡Que viva el Mariachi!”