Mariachi Ensemble & Instruments
The guitarrón is considered to be the heartbeat of the mariachi. This instrument is a six stringed base that is played in octaves. The guitarrón is also part of the "armonia" section, responsible for establishing the rhythm, and plays in conjunction with the vihuela and the guitar. Both the guitarrón and the vihuela are unique instruments to mariachi music.
The role of the Harp in today’s mariachi ensemble is to play the bass line along with the Guitarrón. It can also provide a melody line but generally not as frequently as it was once played in the past. The harpist can even play chords and arpeggios as per the specified musical arrangement. Though the Jalisco Harp style with a Tacote top is commonly used in the mariachi ensemble, the Veracruzana Harp style with a cedar top is also used.
The vihuela, unique to mariachi music and part of the "armonia" section is a high pitched five string instrument, played by strumming chords to different rhythms. The vihuela plays with conjunction with the guitar which together supplements the base of the guitarrón.