Construction of Bajo Sextos in Three Cities of Coahuila, Mexico. Tradition and Innovation in the Visual Image of the Instrument1

Reception: April 29, 2020

Acceptance: July 13, 2020

Abstract

This paper addresses the relevance of the visual representation of the bajo sexto in the current construction of this musical instrument in three cities in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. This is the result of media influences, hybridizations and searches for differentiation and belonging, both among builders and consumers. Based on qualitative research, and specifically on the ethnographic method, this approach is articulated through the concept of field Bourdieu to interpret the dialogue between tradition and innovation around the elaboration and consumption of this icon of northern music.

Keywords: , , , , , ,

construction of low sixths in three cities of coahuila, mexico. tradition and innovation in the visual image of the instrument

This article covers the relevance of the visual representation of the bajo sexto in the current production of this instrument in three cities of the state of Coahuila, Mexico. This relevance is a result of media influences, hybridizations, differences and belongings, both in builders and in consumers. With qualitative investigation as a starting point, and specifically the ethnographic method, this approach is articulated through Bordieu's concept of field to interpret the dialogue between tradition and innovation surrounding the creation and use of this icon of northern music.

Keywords: lower sixthvisual representation, tradition, innovation, construction, "northern music", field.


Introduction

The music of the northern ensemble2 (Peña, 1985: 14; Díaz-Santana, 2015: 15) has moved from the regional to the global, and in this positioning in the. social imaginary3 There are also his instruments: the diatonic accordion and the bajo sexto.

My academic experience on the subject allows me to indicate that the supply of low-cost4 has increased in recent years, due to the positioning of norteño music. The Monterrey context exemplifies this. In the past, we used to talk about the brands5 local,6 Hernandez or Acosta; today we have options such as Herrera, Badines,7 Nápoles, Vega and Marro, in addition to the respective branches of the former.

The expansion of northern music and the demand for basses are strengthened in globalization, in which the circulation of information and goods represents new discourses, dynamics and interactions between actors around the chordophone, as individuals appropriate part of these flows and capitalize on them in the instrument. From the first fieldwork I conducted (2014) to the most recent project,8 This process of appropriations was made explicit in the role played by the visual representation of the bass in the current construction, where tradition and innovation are present.

The importance of studying the visual representation of the bajo sexto stems from the limited research on northern music and the instrument. By conceiving of musical instruments as "sites of meaning construction...embodiments of culture-based beliefs and value systems, an artistic and scientific legacy" (Dawe, 2012: 195), they can enrich information produced from other approaches and represent, through their particularity, an additional view of reality.

The importance of musical instruments in the phenomenon of northern music lies precisely in the fact that they are a reference point not only for the development of the genre but also for the social and economic changes in the northeastern region, in addition to bringing us closer to all those meanings that are constructed in their sounds, repertoires, techniques, images and, above all, the rituals in which they participate and which provide a broader vision of society.

In this paper, I analyze the interactions of woodworkers from the concept of field Bourdieu, where tradition and innovation appear as strategies for the positioning of these and thus try to strengthen the importance of the study of the visual aspect of the instrument.

From this perspective, a main question arises: what is the function or functions of the visual representation of the lower sixth in the field What are the specific characteristics of the construction of these chordophones, and specifically, the interactions between tradition and innovation? The secondary questions are: who determines the visual representation of the instrument, what elements make tradition and innovation possible in the instrument, what specific weight does the visual representation of the instrument have in the positioning of a builder?

Background of the lower sixth in the academy

Academic works on northern music date back to the last decade of the last century. In this production the bajo sexto has been little addressed.

Locally, the works deal with the origin of the bajo sexto north and south of the Rio Bravo (Guerrero, 2002: 28-29); they provide data on its construction and repair in municipalities in Nuevo León (Ayala 2009:108-109; 2014: 142-143); they place it in the century xixThey record it in Monterrey with builders and music houses, where the visual representation of the instrument is exhibited although not as the main theme (Godina, 2014); they record the life story of a bass sexter (Godina, 2015) and that of a Monclovense builder (Godina, 2018); they give an account of the recent history of the instrument in Paracho and its relationship with the North (Godina, 2017); they approach the Desert landowner through the concept of field, outlining the dialogue between tradition and innovation (Godina, 2019a); they expose immigration and identity derived from the mobility of builders (Godina, 2019b).

Nationally, the works consider the Bajío as a massifier of the instrument and propose the lute as a matrix (Montoya, 2013a: 191-208); they address its image in the social construction of the northern music and the rockerization in the performance of the instrument and in the musicalization of the songs (Montoya, 2013b: 184-222); they address its history and propose the baroque guitar as a matrix, in addition to exposing some innovations in the instrument, such as amplification, morphology and execution (Díaz-Santana, 2015: 96-104, 130-140; 2016); they give an overview of its manufacture in Paracho, Michoacán, and propose four stages.9 (Hernández, 2014); they expose construction migration, the circuits derived from it and its effects on the land of origin (Hernández, 2017a; 2017b).10

Internationally, and specifically in the United States, Norteño music or some element of it has been addressed.11 The works narrate, among other things, their employment in musical ensembles, their execution, and share images (Peña, 1985; 1999); address tuning, execution, and implementation (Ragland, 2009: 53-55); mention tuning, musical function, and basic accompaniment of some genres (Madrid, 2013: 73-89), and only a few describe the construction activity of Mexicans on U.S. soil (McNutt, 1991; Young, 2001).

Methodology and delimitations

Given the brief academic research and the suggestive economic phenomenon that emerged from my first paper (2014), I was invited to participate in the project guided by Dr. Olvera Gudiño.12 to take the research to a larger spatial delimitation. My later work on the chordophone derives from this project.

The first approach was based on the ethnographic method, investigating two key spaces: musical instrument stores and bass construction workshops. I considered these spaces as points of convergence of suppliers, music lovers and musicians, in addition to the commercial links between both spaces. The fieldwork focused on approaching employees and owners, respectively. The main activities were semi-structured interviews and participant and non-participant observations.

This experience confirmed the pertinence of the selection of the spaces, the qualitative research and the ethnographic exercise. For this assignment I decided to repeat the methodology, although it should be mentioned that initially an academic team was assigned for the sound objects. The generic protocol gave the guideline in terms of themes, objectives and pertinent questions; later on, the necessary adaptations would be made for each case.

As a general description of the fieldwork, I can mention that I focused on sketching the economic links between music houses, builders and repairers. In the workshops, the builders were approached in order to learn about the instruments, consumer profiles, economic circuits and so on. It should be noted that we had access to almost all the key informants.

The spatial delimitation corresponds to three cities in the state of Coahuila: Saltillo, Torreón and Monclova. The choice of cities was based on their population index and economic importance. As for the temporal delimitation, it covers from the linkage of the results obtained in 2016 to those corresponding to the year 2019, including previous data (2014).

Theoretical framework

The bajo sexto is a chordophone related to northern and Texan ensemble music that is morphologically similar to the guitar, with twelve strings arranged in pairs. The typologies with eighteen strings are called fifth bass.13 and fourth bass, respectively. Its execution, with plectrum, focuses on the accompaniment of the accordion through chords, marking basses and performing some ornaments. More dynamic harmonies, ornaments and solos have been introduced in recent decades. It is worth mentioning that, according to musicologist Curt Sachs, in chordophones the strings can be struck with sticks, plucked with fingers or a plectrum, played with a bow or (in the aeolian harp, for example) sounded by wind (2016: 463).

As for wood craftsmen, I have been able to observe that they conceive of themselves, among other things, as carpenters, cabinetmakers, builders and lute makers, and for the most part identify their work as manufacturing.14 In this regard, Hernandez writes:

Laudería is a European term that refers to the musical instrument known as the lute, played mainly during the Middle Ages... Nowadays [2011], although lutes are not traditionally made in Mexico, the makers of stringed musical instruments are identified as lute makers, and the trade they practice is called laudería. It is pertinent to say that the term is used more in the academic environment, because in the creative context of the towns they call themselves guitar makers, cabinetmakers, carpenters, craftsmen, builders, etc. (2011: 237-238).

Hence the reason for alluding to woodworkers as builders.

When talking about instruments, the disciplines that come to the scene are organography and organology; however, as Víctor Hernández points out, when one wants to go beyond description and taxonomic systems, these disciplines are not enough, since

are very useful as tools to achieve a first approach to musical instruments, but it has its limitations when this researcher approaches to study traditional systems where the sound artifacts fulfill metamusical functions and go from being material objects to subjects, entities, beings social and community related to cosmogony and particular ritual contexts (Hernández, 2016: 31).

An exception is Mantle Hood's proposal on organology, which indicates that

could include not only the history and description of the instruments, but it is also equally important to include aspects neglected by the "science" of musical instruments, such as the particular techniques of performanceThe musical function, the decoration (differentiating it from the construction of the instrument) and a variety of socio-cultural considerations (1982: 124 [own translation]).

In the bajo sexto, the decoration is a way of giving uniqueness to the instrument, and this is repeated with some of the constructive organs; a network of meanings is thus configured. Since the bass has a dichotomy of audible and visual signs, a reflection that emerged when reading a work on the mariachi by ethnomusicologist Arturo Chamorro (2006), I lean towards its visual signs. Arturo Chamorro indicates: "we should consider this figure [the mariachi] in the world of shared and consumed signs in two aspects: 1) the visual representation..., 2) the musical representation" (2006: 91). I use "visual representation" to refer to the visual aspect of the instrument.

Describing the semiotic structuring of a symbolic system with respect to the bass is not my main objective in this work, although it is through the meanings given to its visual signs that the interactions I am interested in addressing are woven, since, "understood as interacting systems of interpretable signs... culture is a context within which all those phenomena [social events, modes of behavior, institutions or social processes] can be described in an intelligible, i.e. dense, manner" (Geertz, 2003: 27).

In this sense, historian Carlos Herrejón Peredo speaks of a "cycle of tradition" that is composed of: a) the action of transmitting, b) the action of receiving, c) the process of assimilation, d) fixation or possession, e) repeated transmission (1994: 136). In our company, what is transmitted is the visual representation of what a bass is; the action of receiving gives action to the receiver; in assimilation, the visual representation of the bass is taken and updated by the receiver; in possession, the image is seen as heritage, but it can also be enriched or modified; making the transmission again closes the cycle, but the image is already intervened, the tradition is updated.

From this conception, tradition does not remain intact, and even "innovation" (those changes that are made to the traditional models of low sextos) is part of this transmission of tradition. Therefore, the tension between tradition and innovation obeys that which is sketched in the interactions of the builders, since these terms serve to distinguish their work from each other, although we will see if it is really a tension. In this way, and to where my interest points, the terms of tension and innovation can be analyzed as conservation strategies and subversionbelonging to the concept of fieldby Bourdieu, who defines it as

a game space, a field of objective relations between individuals or institutions competing for an identical game. In this particular field which is that of haute couture [in our case it would be that of the construction of low sexts] the dominant ones are those who possess to a greater degree the power to construct objects as something rare by the procedure of the signature (the griffe); they are those whose firm has the highest price. In a field, and this is a general law for all fields, those who hold the dominant position, those who have more specific capital, are opposed in many respects to the newcomers (I use this metaphor taken from economics on purpose), the latecomers, the upstarts who do not have much specific capital. Those with more seniority use conservation strategies whose objective is to take advantage of the capital they have progressively accumulated. Newcomers have subversion strategies oriented towards an accumulation of specific capital that supposes a more or less radical alteration of the table of values, a more or less revolutionary redefinition of the principles of production and appreciation of products and, at the same time, a devaluation of the capital held by the dominant (Bourdieu, 1990: 216-217).

The interesting thing about the field of the construction of low sexts is to know who are the dominant ones, what or who positions them there, what is their specific capital (that which the "newcomers" yearn for), how what they recognize as tradition and innovation can be understood as conservation strategies and subversionand, therefore, what is the specific weight of the visual representation of the instrument in this field.

The visual representation of the bajo sexto through record and audiovisual media.

The sound and visual representations of the bajo sexto were positioned, to a large extent, by what was broadcast in the audiovisual media, and specifically the record and film industries.

The musical expression of the accordion-bass pairing emerged in the countryside and moved to the city, although to the cantina and "the most popular tastes" (Ayala, 2004: 147; 2000: 40). It would nest in spaces that were assumed to be northern (García, 2006: 239). It crossed the border and became a product of the Texas recording industry in the 1940s (Ragland, 2009: 65-73). By the 1960s, the diaspora of Mexican workers caused the norteño music circuits to extend to both sides of the Rio Grande (Ragland, 2009: 61), to the point of being a highly expansive and lucrative industry in later decades, with the arrival of the Tigres del Norte (Ragland, 2009: 142). In more recent decades, "la norteña" will nest in places and cultures as "exotic" as the Japanese.15 In the national context, the northernization musical of the country.16

This product of the recording industry had an impact on cinematographic art. An iconic image of norteño music and the bajo sexto is the appearance of the first group of this kind on celluloid, the Broncos de Reynosa. The first appearance of the norteño trident accordion-bass sexto-tololoche was in the movie 44 caliber (1960), directed by Julián Soler17 and starring the main icon of "lo norteño", actor and singer Eulalio González, El Piporro.

If the milestone related to the bajo sexto was his appearance in the stills of that film, his image would also be perpetuated through the cover of the disc. lp (Long Play). In this paper I approached some covers to identify the typologies of bass that were recorded on them and their impact on the actors around the bajo sexto, since "more than mere packaging, [the covers] are conceived as active contexts of cultural mediation that play a crucial role in the performance of communication and empathy relationships between producers (composers, lyricists, musicians and publishers), cultural intermediaries (critics, journalists, agents and promoters) and listeners (sporadic consumers and fans of a certain aesthetic or musical group)" (Quintela and Olivera, 2015: 130).

One of the images of the pioneer group in the recording, the one composed by Narciso Martínez on accordion and Santiago Almeida on bajo sexto, is the one that belongs to a production made on the first recordings by Folklyric Records in 1978. On the cover of the album (illustration 1) you can see a bajo sexto of the so-called of whole body.18 It should be noted that, although the album is from 1978, the image must have been taken, as the information indicates, between 1936 and 1937. The lower sixth of this image shows cords19 at the junction of the two caps2o with the sides,21 while the frets22 about him tuning fork23 barely surpass the junction of the sides with the lid front, towards the mouth.24 In addition, the bridge25 seems to draw what the constructors call a suggestive mermaid tail or mustache. According to the picture, the dimensions of the box resonance are generous.26 As for the other ornamentation, there are no other ornamentations. yarns,27 only one rosette,28 of which the details are not clearly visible. As far as attachments are concerned, there are no micas29 ni tablets.30 On the other hand, the model whole body is replicated in the frames of 44 caliberalthough with fillet31 instead of cordsa rosette without yarnsa mica dark color with no other purpose than to protect the instrument, and the absence of tablet. This typology is called traditional bass.

Figure 1. Cover of the lp album Una historia de la música de la frontera. Texas-Mexican Border Music Vol. 10. (Ramiro Godina Valerio, San Antonio, Texas, April 22, 2017).

In the sixties, a new generation of sextera bass players emerged, who would bring a new facet to the instrument, the melodic one. Perhaps the most recognized, besides Jesús Chuy Scott, is Cornelio Reyna. As bass sextero of the Relámpagos del Norte he participated in several albums,32 where he appears with guitar and bass full-bodywhile in those same years, in his film participations such as in The glass eye (1969),33 directed by René Cardona Jr. and Gabino Barrera's revenge (1967), directed by René Cardona, a sixth bass can be seen, in addition to laces, mica, bridge with mustache, presents a resaque34 and tabletthe latter in that of Cardona Sr.

This type of bass appears on the album cover. Cornelio Reyna y los Reyes del Norte En trocitos/ A nadie le digas1985 (Freddie Records), already separated from Ramón Ayala (image 2). In the image you can see the increase in the number of frets, the bridge finished with mustache and the absence of the tablet. The bass with resaque has the three micas which are emerging as the most common up to now. The bass typology is called with resaqueand would be repeated in many subsequent productions.

Figure 2. Cover of the lp album Cornelio Reyna y Los Reyes del Norte En trocitos/ A nadie le digas. (Ramiro Godina Valerio, San Antonio, Texas, April 22, 2017).

The influence of the electric guitar on this type of bass guitar was crystallized mainly through the resaquethe micas, the tablet (amplification) and melodic execution. By the 90's, new figures in the bajo sexto were consolidating, such as Juan P. Moreno, Salomón Robles and Pepe Elizondo. Execution, ornamentation and electronic implementations expanded the scope of the instrument.

The marked increase in access to the Internet, the consolidation of television programs with music videos about "la norteña" and the circulation and consumption of record productions in the first decade of the new century expanded the visual horizon, which would end up influencing the visual representation of the instrument. Reflection of the aforementioned are the development of bass quarters, unconventional shapes in the instrument (two and up to four resaques), more striking finishes (from painting to pyrography), to the elaboration of exotic basses.35 In addition to the agreements between musicians and builders to make certain type(s) of bass sexto(s).36

Builders and their instruments

There are three main builders in the cities mentioned above. Reynaldo Alonso Escobar (1949), in Saltillo,37 Rubén Castillo Hernández (1956), in Monclova, and José Mendoza, the Laudero of the desertin Torreon. All three of them comply with this proposal to call them builders, since they do not have any academic studies in the field and none of them belongs to a family of builders.

Reynaldo Escobar, musician and builder, recalls that, in his early twenties, he started repairing and building instruments out of necessity, "I started to fix the tololoche, right! once I dropped it, or rather, a drunk broke it and... from there I started to make a tololoche, right!... and... instruments too, like the bajo sexto".38 He would receive only some instruction from Don Heraclio, a builder from the same city who died between 1975 and 1980, and whose name he remembers only by name. On the other hand, with studies in industrial drawing and 30 years of experience in sign making, Rubén Castillo learned this trade from Ángel Hernández, Deletionaround the year 2000,39 who in turn learned the trade during his visits and purchases from Vicente Acosta (father), a builder from Potosí who lived in the city of Guadalupe, Nuevo León. Together with Rubén Castillo, Javier Hernández Castro,40 brother of Ángel Hernández, would also learn this activity. In the field work I observed that there are jobs where Rubén and Javier work together, although the latter, in Castillo's words, does little construction. As for José Cuitláhuac Mendoza, the only reference on basses in Torreón at least until 2019, he has studies in veterinary medicine and zootechnics, is a self-taught guitarist and has a father who is a carpenter. He started in luthiery between 1998 and 1999, repairing his own instruments and through what he calls "trial and error".

Figure 3. Builder Reynaldo Alonso Escobar with two of his tololoches. (Ramiro Godina Valerio, Saltillo, Coahuila, December 3, 2016).

As for the production of basses with inputs from local lumber mills and templates41 Reynaldo Alonso Escobar recognizes as limitations the lack of tools, his delicate health, the limited investment of the musicians and the climate (specifically the winter weather). He told me: "I just need to know how to present them well, that they are well presented so that... I can already offer them".42 For this reason, the repair of instruments is more comfortable and common. Although I did not have any basses to show in the field, it is clear to me that the typology with resaque predominates in Saltillo, since the builder mentions "like in the 90's... and all of the the breed [colleagues] wanted to resaque. They even took me under sextos to make them the resaque... that crescent [resaque]".43 Regarding the presence of the basso quinto, Mr. Reynaldo indicates that it is about ten years old [around 2006], and it is the typology he repairs the most now. Some musicians are even asking him to adapt the head of the instrument to do so under fifth.

Figure 4. Builder Rubén Castillo in his workshop (Ramiro Godina Valerio, Monclova, Coahuila, April 2, 2016).

On the other hand, buying lumber from builders in Monterrey or from businesses in Paracho, Rubén Castillo has a more continuous construction activity, as shown by his posts on his Facebook account.44 and the interactions observed in his workshop. Images of ensembles and bass sextos hang on the walls as a visual representation of the instrument for his clients.

Although he is always looking for an improvement in sound, the relevance of the visual is exposed when he says:

I bring me the photo, and I take it out in real size and already drawn, with everything, with everything and palette [headwith... everything, everything... everything drawn. Then I tell them to look at it, then I tell them. "Tell me what change you want, now that it is on paper". Then they tell me: "look, I want this or this", or they say "no, just like this [this is fine]".45

This evidences the participation of the buyer in the final design, which accentuates its uniqueness. In the works observed both on Facebook and in the workshop, the predominant typology of low with resaquebeing a constant in the cord, the bridge double-boned and the rosette with a herringbone shape. The designs of the herringbone micasThese are made on paper, and he makes them unique by discarding the paper once the design has been traced. As for the inlays, one of the low fifths of the workshop had a stainless steel inlay in the tuning fork with the buyer's name,46 which regionalize the instrument, since ahmsa47 is the city's flagship company (although this regionalization was accidental, because the builder only wanted to reduce costs).

It is of great importance for this work to know that these characteristics in Rubén Castillo's basses have a specific reference. The Coahuila native mentions

the people here in Monclova [your clients] do not like the rosettes They don't want to know anything about Michoacán, because... they don't want to know anything about Michoacán. This... I work with it sometimes, but to put the name here in the tuning forkthe names. And no... I don't put any shell or abalone in the bass sextos because they always... they want, what is it called, that they don't look like the ones from Michoacán, they want them to have the type of the Hernández [Hernández bass sextos, from Guadalupe, Nuevo León], that they only have this... that they don't have any shell. The rosettes that are made of herringbone and have the yarns... the yarns... or that are just called views.48

This narration of Castillo proposes a specific reference for the collective of low sextetos monclovenses and a counterpart of this one. I will address this later.

Like the Saltillo builder, Rubén Castillo also repairs instruments. On the other hand, Castillo points out that for some years now (2010 approximately), among the requests from customers, the request for the two resaquesthe "f" in the lidspecial carvings on the shovels (head of the instrument) and even the reduction in the volume of the boxes (body).

In the case of José Mendoza, between 2008 and 2009 he began to commercialize his instruments, considering that they were of sufficient quality, although he first made classical and jazz guitars. Some still considered him as a repairer rather than a builder, and although he does not have an academic background in luthiery, three lines are outlined as the basis for his own development: the analysis of the templates The research on the construction of the classical guitar and the study of the electric guitar and its evolution.

Regarding bass construction, José Mendoza indicates:

and, above all, I try to give the instrument a more modern look. I don't try to make the instrument, the bajo sexto or bajo quinto, traditional, full of too much paraphernalia, a lot of kind of abalone shell ornaments. I don't particularly like to overload them with so much of this... paraphernalia or details. I'm more into the sound... and the outward appearance is therefore quite simple. It's simpler. Giving... particularly its place to the natural look of the wood, to a more closed color, with a few small details, basically. I don't do a lot of ornamentation. I always try to innovate. I don't like... this... from one point to the present I don't like it as much anymore.
copying or reproducing what others do, I am already in a more creative phase, in a more personal phase. It is no longer... now it is no longer time to reproduce, [it is] time to innovate, to be creative, right!49

According to these words, José Mendoza is in a creative stage, of innovation; his attention is focused on the sound rather than on the image of the bass, contrary to what he calls "bass". traditionalwhich, he mentions, is full of "paraphernalia". However, on his YouTube account50 some contradictions are observed in the videos where he alludes to his new creations.

It seems that the visual representation of the instrument plays an important role in his models when he highlights: the curves and horns instrument are derived from specific models of electric guitars and proprietary models; the instrument's shovel the guitar has the maker's mark, just as in the case of Rubén Castillo; the bridges are its own models, which it calls "modeled", "bat", "cow skull", "eagle skull", "simple"; there are also the models of the "cow skull", "eagle skull", "simple"; there are also the models of the micasthe particularity of having its own tablet, the Pepe Mendoza (which is mainly linked to the sound); the various alternative colors on the instrument; a suggestive name for each model; the arm and the bolted to the body as a distinctive feature in their instruments; it also alludes to the size of the boxwhich he calls traditional or jumboThe sound is also alluded to, but it emphasizes the visual. It should be noted that the sound is also alluded to, but emphasizes the visual.

As for tradition, from José Mendoza's point of view it appears as something static, while innovation is to follow the path, to contribute, to advance. A generalized delay in the delivery of instruments, the refusal to commit to more orders than he can fulfill, the notice of "opening of the agenda" for future works, the favorable comments about his instruments from those who watch his videos and the breadth of his market (in several cities in Mexico, Latin America and the United States) invite to think that his proposals are more accepted, that innovation is imposed on tradition, however, sales depend on many factors, not only on the instrument itself.

It should be noted that some of his models break with the archetypes, for example, of the Hernandez basses, which serve as a reference for Rubén Castillo's basses, since some of them do not have the rosette of herringbone, some do not have rosetteand some others do not even have mouth.

Constructor José Mendoza, Laudero Del Desierto, with one of his basses in process (Ramiro Godina Valerio, Torreón, Coahuila, April 1, 2016).

Articulating and reflecting as a conclusion

The visual representation of the bajo sexto was perpetuated through the audiovisual media, where the typologies of bajo sexto emerged. traditional and under with resaque. According to the examples cited and the observations in the workshops on these basses, there are the constructive organs (some are ornamentation) and the attachments. As for the constructive organs of the traditional bass, they are: box of whole body large; cords and filletsThe former are more common; rosette of spike; yarns; bridge of mustache or tail of siren; head or shovel without inlays. As for the attachments, there are the micas of simple design. I might add that the most traditional woods are cedar, walnut and palo escrito, this in the box.

The constructive elements of the bass with resaque are practically the same, the size of the box resonance can be reduced thanks to amplification through the tablet; shovel or head with the brand name of the instrument. Regarding the attachments: the number of micas The design of these began to increase, their design was perfected; the tablets began to become commonplace.

The constructive features and their attachments were expanded according to each builder. With Rubén Castillo, the visual representation of the instrument is mainly present in bridge, shovelthe uniqueness of its micas and inlays on the fingerboard; otherwise, he sticks to the already established proposals. For his part, José Mendoza stands out for his proposals, hybridizations and adaptations. In many of his designs, the uniform color makes unthinkable the use of cords and fillets; the arm is unique as well as its tablettheir specific models of bridges and low give it a specific reference among the builders of northeastern Mexico.

The meanings of these visual signs began to be constructed from the audiovisual media, establishing archetypes such as the low traditional and bass with resaque, that for some can mean identity and/or belonging, as Rubén Castillo's clients do, when they want their basses to look like those of Monterrey and not those of Paracho, while for others they can mean something static, as in the case of José Mendoza. The significance can be increased by the builder, bringing something different to his instrument, but also by the buyer, participating in its design.

In this sense, the "cycle of tradition" proposed by historian Carlos Herrejón Peredo, now in the bajo sexto, has contributed to the understanding that constructive "innovation" obeys a repeated transmission of a tradition intervened by the one who receives it and transmits it again. Tradition is not opposed to innovation; they complement each other.

Moving on to the concept of field, the construction of bajos in Coahuila seems to make sense when linked to builders based in Monterrey and its metropolitan area. First, because none of the three builders referenced the work of their colleagues; second, Reynaldo Alonso Escobar and Rubén Castillo referred to the bajos made in the Sultana del Norte, in addition to the purchase of wood and the transmission of knowledge, in the case of Monclova. This may be due to: a) the spatial distance between the three cities; there is even less distance between some of these cities and Monterrey; b) the lack of interaction among builders through social networks, specifically Facebook; c) the relevance of Monterrey in terms of circulation of inputs and as a reference in the construction of bajos; d) the presence of Vicente Acosta's bajos in Saltillo and Monclova.

Moving on to the conservation strategies and subversionFrom this perspective, Coahuila's builders seem to assume themselves to be the most important newcomersthose who are looking for that specific capital that have the dominantThe company's main competitors are the Monterrey-based firms of Acosta and Hernandez. Among the conservation strategies of the dominantThe high cost, the fact that their instruments are bought by renowned artists, the fact that their models are considered to be the best in the world, and the fact that they are considered to be the best in the world, all of which are not mentioned here. traditional and longevity of the firm. On the other hand, the subversion strategies of the newcomersThe results of the fieldwork and the social networks range from announcing that an artist has acquired his instruments, innovation in internal and external construction, and mentioning that his instruments will be sent to a certain city or country. The case that most exemplifies this perception is that of José Mendoza, who has found in his innovation an interesting route for the positioning of his basses, although it has not been easy:

I [learned] by struggling a little bit, because the master luthiers are very jealous of their knowledge. Almost, almost, from fathers to sons they just pass on the knowledge, and... not everything is learned on the net... there are always secrets in all this, and little by little I have been unraveling them.51

The Desert landowner He adds: "someone here dares to innovate... they immediately go for the jugular... if I want to, I can make a square guitar in a while, if it sounds good, why not?52

Finally, the visual representation of the instrument has the function of being the point of convergence of different actors, where identity and belonging are built, as well as otherness, where builders and consumers look for a unique instrument. From this perspective, this visual aspect is more decisive than the sound one. Determined by history, the search for the new of the maker and the acquirer, the visual representation of the bass guitar has allowed us to observe that the specific capital of field is articulated among all participants.

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Digital references

Interviews and personal communications

Personal interview with José Mendoza, by Ramiro Godina Valerio, Torreón, April 1, 2016. Audio in possession of Ramiro Godina Valerio.

Personal interview with Rubén Castillo, by Ramiro Godina Valerio, Monclova, April 2, 2016. Audio in possession of Ramiro Godina Valerio.

Personal interview with Rubén Castillo, by Ramiro Godina Valerio, Monclova, December 16, 2016. Audio in possession of Ramiro Godina Valerio.

Personal telephone communication with Rubén Castillo, by Ramiro Godina Valerio, May 4, 2017.

Personal interview with Reynaldo Alonso Escobar, by Ramiro Godina Valerio, December 3, 2016. Audio in possession of Ramiro Godina Valerio.


Ramiro Godina Valerio has a degree in Music and Instrumentalist (guitarist) and a Master in Arts from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. His research focuses on mariachi and norteño music, of the latter he has delved into the bajo sexto. He has participated in academic events locally, nationally and internationally, of which the Colloquium Musical Cultures of Monterrey and Nuevo León (2014); International Colloquia on Mariachi, in Jalisco, Mexico (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2017, 2018, 2019) stand out, kismif International Conference (2018), in Oporto, Portugal and the 22nd Symposium of ictm (2019), in Lisbon, Portugal. His writings have been published under such imprints as the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, the University of Zacatecas, the Colegio de Jalisco and the University of Oporto. He currently teaches at the School of Music of the University of Mexico. uanl.

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EncartesVol. 4, No. 8, September 2021-February 2022, is an open access digital academic journal published biannually by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Calle Juárez, No. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, A. C.., Carretera Escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, No. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, and Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, No. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434. Contact: encartesantropologicos@ciesas.edu.mx. Director of the journal: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Hosted at https://encartes.mx. Responsible for the last update of this issue: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Date last modified: September 29, 2021.
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