1a. Name of performer
The performer who I chose to interview is Oronia Cristian Lopez, clarinet player for “Banda Los Recoditos.”
This band is from Mexico, but they have gained prominence around the world, and have also gone to the top of the Latin charts in the United States.
C. Description of interview
This interview was conducted over the phone with Oronia, who is my cousin. When we initially spoke to set up the interview, he was in Greensboro and leaving for Wiston Salem, NC, to perform in a concert. However, when he was in Raleigh, NC, over the weekend, we were able to speak on the phone. He has a tremendous amount of experience with this type of music and for this reason I thought he would be a great interview subject.
I asked Oronia a series of questions over the phone and recorded the interview. These questions focused on many of the prompts for this essay, but I took a particular interest in the instruments his band plays, as there are many similarities in the style of the Banda as there are with the style of a classical orchestra.
D. Cultural identity of music
In Mexico, this music is called banda, and it uses many brass instruments. As a member of a group performing banda music, Oronia plays a varied selection of songs, which include corridos, rancheras, cumbias, and boleros. “Banda Los Recoditos” mostly performs Mexican pop, which combines elements of these Mexican styles. The style in the Mexican culture could be considered to be similar to polka music, which is traditionally associated with Polish or German music. “Because of the upbeat quality and brass section, the banda music is similar to polka on many occasions” Oronia said.
2. Biography/History of performer or ensemble
Oronia started his formal musical training at the Musicians Union of Sinaloa State in Mexico. However, he spent a considerable amount of time training through his father, who was also a clarinet player. Oronia said playing the clarinet is like anything else that seems difficult at first. “Even walking seems like a very difficult thing, or speaking a language, but if you work at it often enough, it just comes to you naturally, and you don’t even need to think about it.”
He said that practice is what made him into the player that he is today. Every day, when he came home from school, he would practice the scales on the clarinet before working on a new song. He always had a new song that he was trying to perfect, and each time he finished one song, he would find another, more challenging, number to work on. This made him develop the skills that are vital to making it in his profession, and he said that dedication and joy of learning how to play are the cornerstones of him being able to develop his music.
He said the Musicians Union of Sinaloa State of Mexico mostly taught him how to play with other band members, and this was a major challenge for him because before this he was only playing on his own. The skills he learned at that school gave him what he needed to be successful in a banda type of group, because there is a tremendous amount of coordination that is needed to be able to play efficiently and effectively as a team of musicians. “You need to be able to hear the bass, and if everyone keeps pace with the bass, then the band will sound good. They will sound like they are playing together instead of against one another,” he told me.
b. musical influences
Like many performers of banda music, Oronia is influenced largely by the traditional Mexican music, but he also has extensively listened to music from classical composers such as Bach and Beethoven. He says he likes to play around with music from the traditional banda style, and try to incorporate much of the drama that is expressed through the flute instruments in classical music. “I grew up listening to banda music, and this is where most of my influence is, but when I went to Musicians Union of Sinaloa State of Mexico, I learned so much more music than I had ever known before. This education was truly an eye-opener, and from there on, I attempted to incorporate much of the classical style of drama into the compositions. I think this helps give our group a distinctive tone,” he said.
3. Style and repertoire
a. music genre
Banda music is a brass-based style that originated in Mexico (Lopez, 2004).“Banda Los Recoditos,” play music similar to how the traditional groups played, but it has a modern texture, and this results in the music style falling into the Mexican pop category.
b. selected repertoire
“Band Los Recoditos,” typically play upbeat music, but there are time when the sound is a bit lower key, and this can even get into the rancheras category of music, but with a few brass instruments added. “When we are playing shows, we like to switch up the tempo from time to time. Most of our music is really upbeat and powerful, but we also like to also break up the tempo a bit by adding some slower songs. We always have at least a couple brass instruments in the mix, but we do like to add the softer sound of an acoustic guitar from time to time,” Oronia said.
All of the music involves brass instruments. While the slower songs don’t feature the brass section as much, and there are times when there is no brass instruments at all, they do come out in the chorus almost every time. The brass instruments are typically used as a hook, and provide the upbeat tempo that the music is known for.
d. amplification, electronic techniques, if any
Oronia said while the band has to carry around a lot of equipment, there is no need for big amplifiers. “Each person in the band is responsible for his own instrument. The only amplification we need is on the vocals, and so we just have a simple amplification setup for the vocals. But the instruments take care of themselves,” he noted.
e. musical goals
The band has secure some recent success with the No. 1 single on the Latin charts in the U.S. in 2010. But the band wants to keep that momentum going, and keep creating unique music that appeals to both people with Latino ancestry and origin, and other cultures as well.
a. typical venues
The band typically performs at concert halls or at bars. The band is so large that it typically can’t play at regular American bars, and so it generally sticks to concert halls Many staged events are held throughout the U.S. at medium-sized venues.
b. description of live or typical performance
The live performance is completely dominated by the music. There is not much talking, other than introducing the songs sometimes. The performances also include the body movements and dancing. “It’s also very important for us to have fun. If we are enjoying ourselves, which in never a problem, that rubs off on the audience, and everyone has an amazing time,” Oronia said.
c. recordings, if any
The band has put out 18 albums, and has been together since 1989. The 2010 album Ando Bien Pedo went to No. 1 on the Latin charts and sold over 550,000 copies throughout the world.
d. impact on community
The impact the band has on the community is in the shows that it performs. The band provides a positive atmosphere for anyone who is watching or listening, and this is a positive influence for the band’s fans.
Lopez, R. (2004). Banda: Mexican musical life across borders.