There is relatively abundant information on the characteristics of the music of the Aztecs prior to the Spanish conquest, but on the whole fragmentary and unsafe, which date back to reports by chroniclers of the first conquerors, to writings by indigenous authors, to iconographic evidence and to archaeological finds. Rigidly subordinated to the needs of the liturgy, music was cultivated by a caste of professionals who, in the absence of a notation, passed down the repertoire orally. As far as it is possible to judge, the Aztec music system was homophonic, had a very limited interval range and was based on pentatonic scalar structures. There were numerous musical instruments. Among the idiophones, teponaztli was widespread, cylindrical drum of hollow wood, often finely decorated, bearing on one of the two bases a characteristic carving in the shape of an H. Among the membranophones, the huehuetl, a sacred drum with a dark and deep sound; among the aerophones, numerous types of whistles, flutes, bagpipes (among these the chirimía, which is still played, generally in conjunction with the teponaztli and with a tambourine), horns and trumpets. The arrival of the Spaniards marked the end of the indigenous musical tradition and its replacement with a repertoire of European ancestry. At the same time, the natives were instructed to lend their work as singers and instrumentalists in musical institutions founded on the model of those existing in Spain. Among these, the chapels attached to the churches and cathedrals were particularly important, also from a pedagogical point of view. Especially famous were those of the mission of Texcoco (founded in 1523) directed by the Flemish musician Pedro de Gante (1480-1572), of Mexico City (founded in 1539) and of Puebla, where in the sec. XVI and XVII worked Juan de Lienas (active around 1590), Hernando Franco (from 1575 to 1585), Francisco López, Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla (from 1629 to 1664) and Antonio de Salazar (from 1687 to 1715). Alongside the sacred repertoire of import or European imitation, numerous dances, including the sarabanda and chaconne, destined to enjoy enormous success in Spanish and European music of the sec. XVII and XVIII. The melodrama, which had the first indigenous examples with Rodrigo (1708) and Parténope (1711) by Manuel de Zumaya (1690-1732), choirmaster in the cathedral of Mexico City, constituted the most important genre of Mexican musical life of the nineteenth century, which accentuated its dependence on European musical culture, especially Italian. Among the Mexican composers of the nineteenth century, JM Elízaga (1786-1842), founder of the first conservatory in 1825, JA Gómez, founder of the first musical academy in 1839, M. Morales (1838-1908), A. Ortega (1823- 1875), R. Castro (1864-1907) and GE Campa (1863-1934).
In the sec. XX has progressed better and better by outlining a trend that has tried to enhance the local musical folklore, inserting its most typical elements in the context of modern and avant-garde linguistic experiences. Among the most important personalities are J. C. Chávez (1899-1978) who also gained a solid international reputation. His work has particularly influenced the “Grupo de los Cuatro”, made up of D. Ayala (1908-1975), B. Galindo (b. 1910), S. Contreras (b. 1912), JP Moncayo (1912-1958)). Alongside cultured music, very important, also for the effects it has had on consumer music in many Western countries, is Mexican popular music (of which mariachi is among the most practiced and famous genres even outside national borders). There are numerous forms of dance, among which we note, in addition to the aforementioned saraband and chaconne, the jarana, the huapungo, the jarabe. Among the most common vocal forms, the corridor is noteworthy, the canción mexicana (of which there are many varieties), the sandunga chiapaneca (in waltz rhythm, originally from the State of Chiapas) and the son (a dance melody that is characterized according to the region of origin). Also noteworthy are Afro-Cuban music destined for worship and black-African folk dances, which have had a vast influence on cultured music of national inspiration.
According to areacodesexplorer, although a third of the population of Mexico is made up of pure Indians, only a minority speaks pre-Columbian languages (Nahuatl, Mayan, Mixtec, Zapotec, Tarasco, Otomí, Totonaco, etc.) and now fewer and fewer among these are monolinguals, that is, those who do not speak Spanish. In fact, therefore, the language of the Mexicans is that of the European conquerors. The Spanish spoken in Mexico, however, has peculiar characteristics: rather rapid and syncopated pronunciation, with the survival of indigenous phonemes such as š; persistence in the common lexicon of several hundred Mexicanisms, especially in rural areas; adoption of Anglo-American neologisms.