From the Arabic oud, baroque guitars or “vihuelas” came to the New World with the Spanish colony. In Mexico these stringed instruments have been manufactured and modified over the centuries to become what today are called Mexican jaranas, one of the main instruments played in the ever-growing “son jarocho” genre and scene here in NY.
Son Jarocho is a music genre that originated in the colonial era and fuses Spanish, indigenous and African rhythms to create a musical poetry that is a central part of the musical heritage of the region. Son Jarocho is experiencing a resurgence of interest through the works of young musicians who experienced the history of the genre through their elders, and are now reinterpreting a modern historical continuation of the music.
A jarana is a guitar like instrument part of the Son Jarocho music, typically strung with 8-10 strings in 5 courses; the strings are made of nylon. The jarana comes in 5 sizes, the Chaquiste, the Mosquito, the Primera, the Segunda and the Tercera. Their sound is distinctive to any other instrument and typically plays around the steps of the dances that are part of Son Jarocho.
These classes are unique in that you will gain a complete, well-rounded understanding of the instrument, the history and the tradition behind it, as well as music theory, that will be the basis on which you will learn the chords, strums and techniques.
More than a Jarana class it is a whirlwind study of global music. Don’t be surprised to be learning how human emotions shape music creation! Soon you’ll be playing at the fandangos, equipped with the tools to play harmonies and even melodies for any song in any style.
No jarana? No worries! We will have some on hand to lend for the classes, and you’re welcome to order one to be made just for you! Also keep in mind that Sinuhé also makes these instruments and you can order one for yourself. For those of you who are more advanced, Sinuhé has additional exercises and theory up his sleeve…
Sinuhé teaches jarana every Sunday at Terraza 7 Café in Queens from 1-2:30pm. The cost of these classes is $10. He is also available for private instruction.
Jarana classes have also opened up in Brooklyn at Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, on Tuesday evenings from 7-8pm. Please contact them by phone (212) 587-3070 or email (mexicanidad[at]manoamano.us) for more information and to register.
Here is what some students have to say about the way he teaches: