The corrido is a popular narrative song and poetry form, a ballad, of Mexico. The songs are often about oppression, history, daily life for peasants, and other socially important information. It is still a popular form today, and was widely popular during the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

 and Nicaraguan Revolution
Nicaraguan Revolution
The Nicaraguan Revolution encompasses the rising opposition to the Somoza dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s, the campaign led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front which led to the violent ousting of that dictatorship in 1979, and the...

s of the 20th century. It derives largely from the 15th century Spanish romance
Romance (genre)
As a literary genre of high culture, romance or chivalric romance is a style of heroic prose and verse narrative that was popular in the aristocratic circles of High Medieval and Early Modern Europe. They were fantastic stories about marvel-filled adventures, often of a knight errant portrayed as...

, and in its most known form consists of 1) a salutation from the singer and prologue to the story; 2) the story itself; 3) a moral and farewell from the singer.


Various themes are featured in Mexican corridos, and corrido lyrics are often old legends (stories) and ballads about a famed criminal or hero in the rural frontier areas of Mexico. Some corridos may also be love stories. Also, there are corridos about women (La Venganza de Maria, Laurita Garza, and La tragedia de Rosita) and couples, not just about men. Some even talk about fiction or a made up story by the composer. Contemporary corridos written within the past few decades feature more modern themes such as drug trafficking
Mexican Drug War
The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing armed conflict taking place among rival drug cartels who fight each other for regional control, and Mexican government forces who seek to combat drug trafficking. However, the government's principal goal has been to put down the drug-related violence that was...

 (narcocorridos), immigration
Illegal immigration to the United States
An illegal immigrant in the United States is an alien who has entered the United States without government permission or stayed beyond the termination date of a visa....

, migrant labor and even the Chupacabra
The chupacabras is a legendary cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas. It is associated more recently with sightings of an allegedly unknown animal in Puerto Rico , Mexico, and the United States, especially in the latter's Latin American communities...

. A common example is "la Cucaracha" which is derived from an Arabic sailors song from the Moores prior the Reconquista.


Corridos, like ranchera
Ranchera is a genre of the traditional music of Mexico originally sung by only one performer with a guitar. It dates to the years of the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century. It later became closely associated with the mariachi groups which evolved in Jalisco. Ranchera today is also played...

s, have introductory instrumental music and adornos interrupting the stanzas of the lyrics. However, unlike rancheras, the rhythm of a corrido remains fairly consistent. The corrido has a rhythm similar to that of the European waltz
The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.- History :There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim...

; rancheras can be played at a variety of rhythms. Corridos often tell stories, while rancheras are for dancing.

Like rancheras, corridos can be played by mariachi
Mariachi is a genre of music that originated in the State of Jalisco, in Mexico. It is an integration of stringed instruments highly influenced by the cultural impacts of the historical development of Western Mexico. Throughout the history of mariachi, musicians have experimented with brass, wind,...

, norteño
Norteño (music)
Norteño , also norteña or conjunto, is a genre of Mexican music. The accordion and the bajo sexto are norteño's most characteristic instruments. The norteño genre is popular in both Mexico and the United States, especially among the Mexican community...

, banda, duranguense
Duranguense is a genre of Mexican music. It is popular among the Mexican-American community in the United States. Duranguense is closely related to the Mexican styles of banda and norteño. The main instruments, which are held over from banda, are the saxophone, trombone, and bass drum...

, Tejano
Tejano or Texano is a term used to identify a Texan of Mexican heritage.Historically, the Spanish term Tejano has been used to identify different groups of people...

 and grupero bands. The instruments used to play the song differ with the type of band that plays the corrido.


Until the arrival and success of electronic mass-media (mid-20th century), the corrido served in Mexico as the main informational and educational outlet, even with subversive purposes, due to its apparent linguistic and musical simplicity, appropriate for oral transmission. After the spread of radio and television, the genre evolved into a new stage and is still in process of maturity. Some scholars, however, consider the corrido to be dead or agonizing in more recent times (see affirmations of Vicente T. Mendoza, El corrido mexicano, 1954). In more rural areas where Spanish and Mexican cultures have been preserved because of isolation, the romance has taken on other forms related to the corrido as well. In New Mexico, for example, a story-song emerged during the colonial period that was known as an Indita, which loosely follows the format of a corrido, but is chanted rather than sung, similar to a Native American chant, hence the name Indita.

The earliest living specimens of corrido are adapted versions of Spanish romances or European tales, mainly about disgraced or idealized love, or religious topics. These, that include (among others) "La Martina" (an adaptation of the romance "La Esposa Infiel") and "La Delgadina", show the same basic stylistic features of the mainstream of later corridos (1/2 or 3/4 tempo and "verso menor" lyric composing, meaning verses of eight or less phonetic syllables, grouped in strophes of six or less verses).

Beginning with the Mexican War of Independence
Mexican War of Independence
The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and the Spanish colonial authorities which started on 16 September 1810. The movement, which became known as the Mexican War of Independence, was led by Mexican-born Spaniards, Mestizos and Amerindians who sought...

 (1810–1821) and culminating during the Mexican Revolution
Mexican Revolution
The Mexican Revolution was a major armed struggle that started in 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against longtime autocrat Porfirio Díaz. The Revolution was characterized by several socialist, liberal, anarchist, populist, and agrarianist movements. Over time the Revolution...

 (1910–1921), the genre flourished and acquired its "epic" tones, along with the three-step narrative structure as described above.

Prior to widespead use of radio, popular corridos were passed around as an oral tradition, often to spread news of events (for example, the La cárcel de Cananea
La cárcel de Cananea
La cárcel de Cananea is a corrido written in 1917 commemorating the Cananea Strike that took place in the Mexican mining town of Cananea, Sonora, in June 1906...

) and popular heroes, and popular humor, to the population, many of whom were illiterate prior to the improvements to the educational system that occurred after the Revolution. Academic study of corridos written during the Mexican revolution shows they were used as a means to communicate news throughout Mexico as a response to the propaganda being spread in the newspapers which were owned by the corrupt government of Pofirio Díaz. Sheet music
Sheet music
Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols; like its analogs—books, pamphlets, etc.—the medium of sheet music typically is paper , although the access to musical notation in recent years includes also presentation on computer screens...

 of popular corridos were sold or included in publications. Other corrido sheets were passed out free as a form of propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

, to eulogize leaders, armies, and political movements, or in some cases to mock the opposition. The best known Revolutionary corrido, is, of course, La cucaracha
La Cucaracha
"La Cucaracha" is a traditional Spanish folk corrido that became popular in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. It has additionally become a verse played on car horns.-Origins:...

, an old song that was rephrased to celebrate the exploits of Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

's army and poke fun at his nemesis Venustiano Carranza
Venustiano Carranza
Venustiano Carranza de la Garza, was one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution. He ultimately became President of Mexico following the overthrow of the dictatorial Huerta regime in the summer of 1914 and during his administration the current constitution of Mexico was drafted...


With the consolidation of "Presidencialismo" (the political era following the Mexican Revolution) and the success of electronic mass-media, the corrido lost its primacy as a mass communications form, becoming part of a folklorist cult on one branch, and on another, the voice of the new subversives: oppressed workers, drug growers or traffickers; leftist activists, emigrated farmworkers (mainly to the USA)... This is what scholars call the "decaying" stage of the genre, which tends to erase the stylistic or structural characteristics of "revolutionary" or traditional corrido, without a clear and unified understanding of its evolution. This is mainly signified by the "narcocorrido
A Narcocorrido is a type of Mexican music and song tradition which evolved out of the norteño folk corrido tradition. This type of music is heard on both sides of the US–Mexican border. It uses a danceable, accordion-based polka as a rhythmic base. The first corridos that focus on drug...

", many of which are egocentric ballads paid for by drug smugglers to anonymous and almost illiterate composers (more about this asserts in Spanish_Wikipedia), but others coming from the most popular norteno and banda artists, and written by some of the most successful and influential ranchera composers.

In mestizo-Mexican cultural area the three variants of corrido (romance, revolutionary and modern) are both alive and sung, along with sister narrative-popular genres, such as the "valona
The valona is a popular narrative song- and poetry-form of the Mexican state of Michoacán. Its main characteristics are: a bitter sense of humor, mainly with reference to erotism and social concerns; its lyrics are composed as groupings of ten-line strophes, each line made up of eight syllables;...

" of Michoacán state, the "son arribeño" of the Sierra Gorda
Sierra Gorda
The Sierra Gorda is an ecological region centered on the northern third of the state of Querétaro and extending into the neighboring states of Guanajuato, Hidalgo and San Luis Potosí...

 (Guanajuato, Hidalgo and Querétaro states) and others. Its vitality and flexibility allow original corrido lyrics to be built on non-Mexican musical genres, such as blues
Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads...

 and ska
Ska |Jamaican]] ) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues...

, and even non-Spanish lyrics, like the ones composed or translated by Mexican indigenous communities or by the "Chicano
The terms "Chicano" and "Chicana" are used in reference to U.S. citizens of Mexican descent. However, those terms have a wide range of meanings in various parts of the world. The term began to be widely used during the Chicano Movement, mainly among Mexican Americans, especially in the movement's...

" people in USA, in English or "Spanglish
.Spanglish refers to the blend of Spanish and English, in the speech of people who speak parts of two languages, or whose normal language is different from that of the country where they live. The Hispanic population of the United States and the British population in Argentina use varieties of...

". The corrido was, for example, a favorite device employed by the Teatro Campesino
Teatro Campesino
El Teatro Campesino , is a theatrical troupe founded in 1965 as the cultural arm of the United Farm Workers. The original actors were all farmworkers, and El Teatro Campesino enacted events inspired by the lives of their audience...

 led by Luis Valdez
Luis Valdez
Luis Valdez is an American playwright, writer and film director.He is regarded as the father of Chicano theater in the United States.-Education:...

 in mobilizing largely Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers in California during the 1960s.

Notable corrido singers

  • Los Cadetes de Linares
    Los Cadetes de Linares
    I Rule!!!Los Cadetes de Linares are famously known for their corridos, ballad-style songs about famous drug cartel criminals or heroes in the rural frontier of the US-Mexico border. They are a conjunto -- also known as a norteño group—and their accordion and bajo sexto waltzes are well-known in...

  • Carlos y Jose
  • Chalino Sánchez
    Chalino Sánchez
    Rosalino "Chalino" Sánchez was a Mexican singer and songwriter.-Early life:Born and raised in a poor family on a ranch called "Las Flechas", Badiraguato, Sinaloa, Mexico. His father was Santos Sánchez and his mother Sannorina Felix. He had seven siblings: Armando, Lázaro, Régulo, Lucas,...

  • Ramon Ayala
    Ramon Ayala
    Ramon Ayala is a bajo sexto player from Donna, Texas, who currently resides in the Rio Grande Valley. He is the son of Pedro Ayala. His progressive style and technique has earned him the 2009 Bajo Sexto Player of the Year Award from the South Texas Conjunto Association. In 2009 he celebrated his...

  • Gerardo Ortiz

Musical characteristics

The corrido was originally performed as a melodically simple tune with guitar accompaniment. It was performed in waltz
The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.- History :There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim...

 time and now commonly adopts a polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

 rhythm. Since the commercialization of the corrido, it is often performed by conjunto
Conjunto literally translates as "group," and is regionally accepted in Texas as defining a genre of music that was born out of south Texas at the end of the 19th Century, after German settlers introduced the button accordion. The bajo sexto has come to accompany the button accordion and is...

s produced professionally by recording companies.


  • 2006 - Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side). Directed by Natalia Almada.
  • 2007 - El Violin (The Violin) directed by Francisco Vargas
  • 2008 - El chrysler 300: Chuy y Mauricio Directed by Enrique Murillo
  • 2009 - El Katch (The Katch) Directed by Oscar Lopez

Further reading

  • Americo Paredes. With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and its Hero (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1958)
  • Richard Flores. "The Corrido and the Emergence of Texas-Mexican Social Identity" (Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 105, Spring 1992)
  • Dan Dickey. The Kennedy Corridos: A Study of the Ballads of a Mexican American Hero (Center for Mexican-American Studies, University of Texas at Austin, 1978)
  • Merle Simmons. The Mexican Corrido as a Source of an Interpretive Study of Modern Mexico, 1870–1950 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1957).

External links

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