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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

No es ruido, es música

The organillo is a portable barrel organ that plays melodies on a large hand-cranked music box (Wikimedia Commons).

29-year-old model Breanna Claye, an American who has been living in Mexico for eight months, recently got called out on social media for posting a story on Instagram complaining about the instrument, organillos. She said it was “the #1 most annoying sound in Mexico”, then proceeded to say, “I can’t stand these people who turn this music box of horrible ‘sounds’ while staying at a Mexican resort for work.” She also wrote on her story, telling others that they shouldn’t give the Organilleros money because then they would be encouraging this ‘noise’. 

To give more context about the organillos, here is a brief history about this instrument and its dedicated musicians.

Organilleros are the structure behind Mexico City’s musical history, originating from a German Origin. The musicians gained popularity in the late 19th century. The organillo is a portable barrel organ that plays melodies on a large hand-cranked music box. The music is usually located in Mexico City’s historic center. While the sound is recognized by its high-pitch screeching, you can usually hear it playing a popular melody. 

While it is not the music they play nor the instrument they carry, it’s tradition and dedication behind it that sets the musicians apart from other performers. The music box is played by street musicians who are often seen in traditional attire that includes a peaked cap and a neatly buttoned vest, the uniform bears a resemblance to Pancho Villa army because it is said that Organilleros were used to encourage militias during each battle. Organillo became well known in Mexico during the Porfiriato era and were rented out and used as a source of income or entertainment. 

Fortunately, Claye made an apology video, saying that she didn’t know about the long history of the Organilleros and she apologized for her lack of education about the history and tradition of the organillos while acknowledging how difficult their jobs are. Although, on her Instagram story, she clearly called the ‘noise’ a music box, and told her followers not to encourage the ‘noise’, by giving the Organilleros money, suggesting that she did know about the history of the Organillos and knew it was a part of Mexico’s musical history. 

During her stay in Mexico, she was with a company called “Queta Rojas”. They issued a statement on the matter, saying that they value and respect the diverse cultures and opinions, apologizing for the behavior of Claye. They also said that they do not share the same opinion about the subject matter and it does not reflect the position or value of their agency and stated that they let her go. 

Not even a month after Claye made the comment about the Organilleros, she went on a podcast called “Fluye con zaza”, and talked about how much she loves Mexico and said, “I have come here multiple times for eight years straight, you miss my Pinterest board that has all Mexico on it”. If one has been to Mexico for eight years straight, surely they would have some knowledge and education about Mexico and its culture. 

She also said, “I didn’t say anything about the culture, about Mexicans, the country, nothing, only about the level of the sound.”  Although her Instagram story says differently, because she did write about Mexicans, she told her followers not to give the musicians money and said she can’t stand the people who play them.

This recent controversy concerning the foreigners’ criticism should remind the city of Mexico that the sounds are not mere background noise and should serve as a reminder to honor and keep the tradition of the Organilleros alive.

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