A Mexican Sound
The son huasteco is a folk music tradition that manages to be both gritty and sublime at the same time. It is still going strong in the small towns and villages of northeast and east-central Mexico, but, filmmaker, Roy Germano, believes that this captivating music deserves a larger audience. His recently finished documentary, A Mexican Sound, intends to do just that.
Germano describes the style as “intense and energetic,” characterized by “rapid violin flourishes, falsetto singing, and driving rhythms,” the latter supplemented by people stomping and dancing on the tarima (a large wooden platform). A very big sound is created by a mere trio of musicians playing violin, jarana huasteca (a small, 5-string guitar) and quinta huapangera (a large-bodied, short-necked 8-string guitar).
Germano was introduced to the music while a graduate student at the University of Texas-Austin doing research for his doctoral dissertation in the Huasteca region. His thesis, titled “The Political Economy of Remittances,” was informed by hundreds of interviews with residents of towns where more than half the population had left to work in the U.S. These experiences also inspired his first film, The Other Side of Immigration (2010), which was recognized by the American Library Association as one of 2011’s Notable Videos of the Year.
In spite of his focus on political science, Germano couldn’t forget the music! From a single beloved CD, he tracked down the studio that distributed it and, finally, the men who performed on it. Some of these musicians, from the communities of Ciudad Valles and Xilitla in eastern San Luis Potosí, are featured in A Mexican Sound.
Dr. Germano’s has discussed his research and film work in many media venues, such as National Public Radio, CNN, Univision’s Al Punto with Jorge Ramos, Fox News and Telemundo, among others.
The first Arizona screening of A Mexican Sound will take place during the Phoenix College Latino Film Festival in the latter part of March (visit phoenixcollege.edu/latinofilmfest). Dr. Germano will be present as one of the Festival’s guest artists to answer questions about his work following the screening. For more information about the filmmaker, check out: