Sones de México Ensemble teaches students to write corridos

Students and members of the Notre Dame community came together for a corridos songwriting workshop hosted by the Institute for Latino Studies. The workshop was led by Juan Dies, co-founder of Sones de México Ensemble, a group based in Chicago.

A corrido is a traditional Mexican song style with origins in northern Mexico and the southwest United States. It is a ballad-based form that relates a story of local or national importance — a hero's deeds, a bandit's exploits, a migration story, or a natural disaster, for instance. Some of the most popular exponents of this genre today are los Tigres del Norte and los Tucanes de Tijuana.

At the workshop in mid-November, Dies focused on having the participants produce a corrido with a "moral message for everyone to heed."

During the three hour instructional, held in the Institute for Latino Studies lounge in Bond Hall, "students became increasingly engaged in the workshop, showing a deep concern for the complex problems of our time that affect our communities," he said. The event was partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

"Time flew by, and we were singing our newly composed piece in no time!” Dies said.

Juan W Iguana
Juan Dies of Sones de México Ensemble

One of the students in attendance was Emily Meneses, a member of Notre Dame’s Coro Primavera. Coro Primavera is Notre Dame's only Spanish-language choir.

When asked about her experience with the workshop, Meneses, a junior majoring in Psychology and Political Science, stated the following: “Attending the Corridos Workshop really opened my eyes to the pride and joy of Mexican culture, of which a big part is music."

She noted how the journey-based subject matter of many corridos reminds her of literary works focused on migration and movement, such as Homer's epic the Iliad, in which the protagonist Odysseus spends the entire poem trying to return home.

"It's so beautiful to learn the history of corridos, and how they are tied to the things we learned about in high school."

"As a member of Coro Primavera," she added. "I was also very happy to learn how to write a song with significant meaning, and the effort and thought that goes into music."

Other students in attendance have connections to additional music clubs on campus, such as Mariachi ND and Ballet Folklorico.

“It was great to see a genre of music my parents listen to, and shared with me growing up, represented and appreciated at an institution of ND's caliber,” said Bryan Barriga, a senior studying civil engineering. He is a member of Mariachi ND.

Corridos workshop November 2022
The workshop took place in ILS's lounge

At the end of the workshop, each person performed the corrido they had written.

Sones de México Ensemble was founded in Chicago's historic Pilsen neighorhood in 1994. In addition to the corrido, they utilize the regional styles of huapango, gustos, chilenas, son jarocho, and others. They've performed at the prestigious Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.

Originally published by Alessandra Gonzalez at on December 02, 2022.