Music From The Hotlands Of Michoacán

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has released ¡Tierra Caliente! Music From The Hotlands Of Michoacan by Conjunto de Arpa Grande Arpex.

Arpex features two uniquely gifted singers who employ the high-pitched style of the west Mexican calenteño “hotlands” sound. The music is similar to mariachi, but has more rural flavor. The group’s repertoire spans son, jarabe, valona, cancion ranchera (country song)and huapango, including many songs that have inspired Mexican dancers for generations.

Arpex’s five members are Mexican natives who perform regularly throughout California, Nevada, Washington and beyond. Smithsonian Folkways Director Daniel Sheehy says, “When I first heard them, Arpex really caught my ear. The musicianship is top notch, and the Valdovinos brothers are incredible vocalists. I m thrilled that Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is able to release Arpex’s U.S. debut album.”

Originating in the hot flat region of the west Mexican state of Michoacán, conjunto de arpa grande is “a big harp ensemble.” The main instrument is the arpa grande, a five-foot-tall harp with roughly 37 strings. Two unique guitars, the five stringed vihuela and the lower pitched guitarra de golpe provide rhythm and chords. The line up also features two violins, adding melody. Lastly, the recording boasts a tamboreador (drummer), who kneels next to the harp and strikes its sound box with his hands. For live performances in large venues Arpex updates its sound, adding an electric bass and drum kit to its lineup.

Arpex members are Miguel Prado Mora (arpa grande), Arnoldo Galván (violin), Arcadio García Ortiz (tamboreador), Román Isabel Ramos Gomez (vihuela) and Rafael and Javier Valdovinos Acevedo (vocals), playing violin and guitarra de golpe, respectively.

[Buy Tierra Caliente].