The Best Places to Experience Marimba and Son Music

Explore the vibrant world of Mexican marimba and son music. Learn about the unique characteristics of each style and where to experience them for free in Mexico.

The Best Places to Experience Marimba and Son Music
A musician plays traditional marimba music. Photo by Alena Jarrett on Unsplash

Mexico is a country renowned for its vibrant and diverse musical traditions, and two of the most exciting styles to emerge from this rich musical heritage are marimba and son. While both are deeply ingrained in Mexican culture, they each have distinct characteristics that set them apart and make them unique.

Marimba Music

Marimba music has its roots in southern and central Mexico, but it is considered traditional only in the states of Chiapas and Veracruz. The marimba itself is a wooden percussion instrument that is similar in appearance to a xylophone but with a deeper and richer sound.

The marimba is a central component of many Mexican celebrations and festivals, and its distinctive sound can be heard throughout the country. In Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas, you can hear marimba music any night of the week for free in Parque de la Marimba. This open-air park is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, who come to listen to the lively rhythms and dance the night away.

Son Music

Son is another important Mexican music style that originated in many parts of the country. It is characterized by its use of stringed instruments, including guitars, violins, and harps, and features a range of different styles and rhythms.

One of the most famous forms of the son is son jarocho, which originated in southern Veracruz. This fast-paced and lively style of music is known for its intricate strumming and string picking and was made famous by Ritchie Valens's hit song "La Bamba" in the 1950s.

Jarana Music

Another popular form of the son is jarana, which is the principal dance music of the Yucatán region. This style of music adds woodwinds and the sensuous Caribbean beat to the traditional son jarocho sound. Jarana music is particularly associated with the annual Vaquerías, or country fiestas, that take place on the haciendas of the Yucatán region.

Today, you can still experience the vibrant sound of jarana music every week in Mérida's central plaza and many smaller parks throughout the region. This energetic and lively music is the perfect soundtrack for a night of dancing and celebration.


Mexican music is a rich and diverse art form, and marimba and son are just two examples of the incredible variety of styles and rhythms that can be found throughout the country. Whether you are looking for traditional music, modern interpretations, or a mix of both, Mexico has something to offer for every music lover. So next time you are in Mexico, be sure to explore the world of marimba and son and discover the incredible soundscapes of this amazing country.