During our interview with Terry, Allie and I got to learn a lot about Mariachi music–not just at Notre Dame, but in general. We were interested in how their group compares to more traditional Mariachi bands and what qualifies a band as Mariachi. Below is an excerpt from Terry’s interview. The conversation started with questions about rules for a Mariachi competition the group had considered participating in.
FRANNY: One of the guidelines I remember Sam talking about was that everyone on stage had to play an instrument, do you know why that is?
TERRY: Mariachi bands tend to be pretty small, so ours is kind of an exception. And generally it would be four people. So by necessity, everyone would have to play an instrument otherwise it wouldn’t have a full sound.
FRANNY: It’s not normal that you would have people just singing usually?
TERRY: No. You would have one singer, maybe.
ALLIE: In other typical Mariachi bands would you say people are playing and singing at the same time?
ALLIE: Do you have an audition process for this band?
TERRY: Nope, anyone who’s willing to join is welcome.
ALLIE: If people don’t play do you just start them on a new one?
TERRY: Well, there’s only so many instruments that can fit in a Mariachi band. For example, we couldn’t really use a flute. It’s trumpet, violin, guitarone–which is the equivalent of a bass but it has 6 strings–guitar, vihuela, and vocals, and we actually have a band member who didn’t play the guitarone and just picked it up this year so, we’re accommodating if you want to be there, you can learn to do whatever.