MEXIKA "Sounds of Ancient Mexico"


Since 1998, MEXIKA, one of the earliest groups of this type to exist, has performed “Traditional and New Music with the ancient, exotic and cosmic sounds of the instruments of their ancestral México!”

MEXIKA bring to its’ presentations: a vast museum of instruments; the poetry of the ancients, philosophy, culture, customs, history, legend and facts. MEXIKA shares and teaches Mexican culture, asking that you reflect on your own roots. Everyone is native, native to this Earth! We make strong connections to performing arts standards and core studies.

MEXIKA is primarily a highly professional performing instrumental trio. We perform as the Trio doing only music of course! You'll hear the instruments all together in an exciting vibrant upbeat performance! We also, upon request, include d
anzantes (dancers): We add various numbers of dancers based on your budget! Most events typically ask for 3 musicians & 3 dancers...tell me what your budget is and I can tell what I can get for you!!!



MARTIN ESPINO - Wind Instruments, Percussions and Vocal

ERICK BARRAZA - Percussion

NAZARIO SEGURA - Percussion and Head Dancer (Fire Dancer)

NOTE: the above members are on the CD called MEXIKA "Live at Viento y Agua 2011"


Martin Espino created the first incarnation of MEXIKA back in 1998. Since it's inception, MEXIKA has performed mostly large events, like festivals and such, but mostly at upscale venues, like Universities, major cultural festivals, museums, corporate events and such. In 2017 MEXIKA was featured in ZOOM North America's video for their 360 degree recording device, featured at NAMM 2017!!!

MEXIKA toured Austria for 10 days in March of 2019. There, MEXIKA performed in a huge ecological park, two 200 year old theatres in Grav and Vienna, where people like Shubert and Mozart played and in Grav's main town square and a cafe on the Danube River! We were always the last and wildest act of the festival, so we ended all those shows with a bang!!!

Martin Espino would like to formally thank these excellent jefas/danzantes/musicians for being part of MEXIKA's activities since I created it: Erick Barraza, Nazario Segura, Belinda Alvarez, Noemi "Tlalla" Esparza, Victor E, Capitana Liliana Curioca, Jorge Esparza and danzantes like: Elena Brown, Tania Guerra, Leticia Leal (QPD) and other great danzantes!                                                                                                     

Martin also thanks the makers of most of his fine clay instruments, Xavier Quijas Yxayotl and Nash Tavewa.

I'd also like to pay honor to, thank and recognize the following Jefes y Jefas for their teaching and their dancers, who have helped MEXIKA so many times: Capitana Virgina Carmelo & her Xipe Totec Danzantes; Capitana Liliana Curioca and her group, Danza Azteca Coaxochitl and Jefa Maggie and her group, Danza Azteca Yankuititl and Jefe Lazaro Arvizu & his Xipe Totec Danzantes Aztecas...Much love to you all. Tlazocamati...

Martin would lastly, like to thank his parents, Lolo and Socorro, for their love and support, r.i.p. and his brother, John Lionel and his sister, Consuelo.




MEXIKA performs on "indigenous instruments of Mexico” and plays several types of music:
1) Actual Traditional Indigenous songs and instrumentals
Music from all states of Mexico. Instruments differ.

2) Music for "Mexica or Aztec" ceremonial dance with "Danzantes" (dancers) We play the traditional rhythms that the danzantes dance to in our ceremonies. No new age, only tradition. The dancers, of course, are accompanied by our “classical” instruments. The instrument group performs, we perform these same rhythms and create music from it.

3) New Music: composed by Martin Espino and/or group members. The music is based on scholarly research/analysis of both present day indigenous music and ancient music of our ancestors.

4) Improvised Music: we exercise our musical prowess and skill by improvising too. Again, what we’ll do is based on the ancestral rhythms and knowledge of what was possibly done back then and exploring the full range of our instruments' capabilities!



When dancers appear, they show the elegance of our ancestral "danza" and the beautiful garments they wear!
MEXIKA brings a virtual museum of instruments to their performances. MEXIKA plays a huge array of instruments rarely seen or heard outside of Mexico. The music in MEXIKA's programs is always upbeat and exciting as well as highly visual. Members dress in appropriate traditional indigenous attire. Our programs are appropriate for ALL public and private events and our music is applicable to ALL seasons! We talk about what we do, what we play and why...everything is family appropriate. We even break the myths about our culture! Everything we do and say is based on scholarly research, archeological evidence and experience!



Pre-K to Adults: These programs are 100% interactive, a technique Martin has pioneered since the early 1980’s. Audience members are invited to play authentic native percussion as well as sing “easy-to-sing” songs in native languages! For any size audience! Masterful audience management skills, very well researched cultural and historical info. Covering all VAPA Standards.

Martin can also bring an Aztec Danzante to add "Dance" to the event. We end our event with a "Friendship Dance" where we invite

audience members to join us!




ALL "present members" are shown in the Photo Gallery above. The members vary, depending on availability and request, BUT they are all "master practioners of their traditional art", so there is not so much a question of who I bring, but rather "how many".

STRICT POLICY of MEXIKA, I now have a strict policy to use ONLY artists who are involved in the Danza community and related. The members will vary but, again, all of them are experts!emonial community and/or experienced musicians who perform within that community living here or in Mexico. Members MUST be Mexican; speak Spanish and know and practice their culture. Everyone has their own traditional clothes. Everyone honors their ancestors and are true to their hearts. All of them are grateful professionals and friends. Stayed tuned to the calendar. No more people who learn and steal from us, it's common and it's not part of our tradition, I'll be happy to give you their names because they are not "true". We work for what you see and hear!!!



Our instruments are from all indigenous cultures and states of Mexico. Most people think it is just Aztec and Maya.

Our instruments are not “primitive”, they are our “classical” instruments!!!

 75% of MEXIKA’s instruments are made by Martin Espino. Please note that the instruments have different names depending on their region, however, we’ve decided to list the majority of them in the Nahuatl language of the "Mexica" of Central Mexico.

Every high culture in the world has the following instrument families: Wind, String, Percussion and Voice.

The instruments listed below are part of the research work of Martin Espino (if you use the following info, please credit my, it is my research).

or Ocarinas - are vessel flutes of clay shaped like animals or people, also made from bamboo or gourd.

TLAPITZALLI or Flutes - are single to quadruple flutes made of clay, Single flutes of bamboo and bone.

OCELOTL or Jaguar Voice, a Martin Espino invention.

CHIXTLI or Whistles. They imitate birds, monkeys, eagles, wind effects and more, made from various natural materials.

ATECOCOLLI or Trumpets made of sea snail shell or snake gourds.

AKATL or Panpipes made of bamboo or clay.

Martin plays the fine Clay Wind Instruments (copies of artifacts) by master builders, Nash Tavewa and Xavier Quijas Yxayotl. All Bamboo and Gourd Instruments by Martin Espino. All other instruments collected from Mexican indigenous artists.

AYOTL – is a turtle shell drum played with a deers' antler.

TEPONAZTLI – bamboo or wooden log drum.

HUEHUETL tall vertical ceremonial drum.

HAND DRUMS - various sizes of hand drums from the states of Sonora, Chihuahua and Tabasco.

VAKUVAHE - Yaqui water drums are hollowed gourds floating in bowls of water, played with sticks wrapped with corn husks.

TETL – is a “stone” xylophone.

AYACACHTLI - are rattles made of either gourds, deer hooves, butterfly cocoons, giant seed pods, clay vessels, etc.

OMICHIKAHUAZTLI - rasps or scratchers made of bamboo, wood or bone

CIAHUITL ACATL - rain sticks of snake gourd or bamboo.

ARCOS DE LLUVIA/RAIN ARC – is a large bow with large sea urchin spines or bamboo pieces threaded through the string of the bow.

TIMBRES Chimes made of a resonant stone called Marmol.

We sing in many indigenous languages of Mexico.                

TAWITOL – the only indigenous stringed instrument known to have existed. It is a hunter's bow with an attached gourd resonator, struck with one or thin stick. It has a relative, the "Mouth Bow". This instrument currently survives with the Tepehuano, Huichol and Cora natives.

ARCO MAYA - Rarely seen, bow held and attached to a string with a gourd or ceramic at hanging, the string, is either struck with a stick or the bow may have notches that can be rubbed like a rasper.

CHAPAREKE – is a plucked mouth bow (2 tunable strings) of the Raramuri or Tarahumara people in Chihuahua.

NOTE: Guitarras, vihuelas, requintos, huapangueras, jaranas, mandolinas and such as well as violins and harps come from European contact.

Martin Espino               
Since 1975, Martin Espino has researched the music and culture of Ancient Mexico, concerntrating on the instruments and their ancient and present day musical practices!

Martin's indigenous heritage is Tepehuano (Father) and Yaqui (Mother) ancestry. His grandparents are from the states of Durango and Sonora.

In 1966, he began playing music at age 11. By age 13 he was teaching his peers. Since then he has become a very well rounded musician, in that he was first, "street trained" (playing by ear), then "classically trained" and finally, "folklore/indigena trained". In 1978, he graduated from Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood with a "Bachelor of Music Degree in Performance with Honors” in Classical Guitar and performance on instruments of the Medieval and Renaissance eras.
Already an artist since a very early age, he was inspired to study about his ancient heritage after seeing indigenous dancers from Mexico on T.V. He was about 6-7 years old when he first saw them. Back in 1975, when he decided to play these instruments, he did not know that he would become one of the very first musicians in North America to play Ancient Mexican instruments. 47 years later, he had become a recognized scholar and authority on these instruments!
He believes in "education, peace and respect of the earth and in knowing one's self/ancestry", which are some of the many topics he covers at all presentations!
Martin also performs on a vast variety of instruments from other parts of Ancient North, Central and South America. Since then, he has met and performed with musicians/folklorists of the following heritages: Acajachemen, Cahuilla and Tongva of native California; Maya-Chontal, Yaqui, Huichol and Mexika of Mexico; Shuar of the Ecuadorian Rain Forest; celebrity artists from Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and other countries in South America.
During the years 1992-98, Martin Espino received many awards from ASCAP and Meet The Composer/CA for "New Works for Ancient Wind Instruments of Mexico and World Percussion Instruments" as composer and director of his group NAHUALLI ENSEMBLE.

From 1984 to Present, he has also composed/performed works utllizing ancient Mexican instruments as well as contemporary instruments for theater, museums, video and T.V., commercials and major motion pictures as well as for artistic geniuses as : Spoken Word Artists: Naomi Quinonez, Antonieta Villamil and Pepe Serna; Musicians such as Alex Degrassi; Alfredo Lopez Mondragon of Queztalcoatl; Avant-garde artists like: The California E.A.R. Unit; Amy Knoles, Electronic Percussionist and Martin's own "No Mambo"; the hip-hop trio, EL VUH; Composers like: Elisabeth Waldo; Junnoh Homrich and others; Artists from Guatemala and Mexico like: Los Conejos Internacionales; Tamborileros de La Chontalpa de Tabasco; and Maestro Xavier Quijas Yxayotl; all the way to the Classical world with The Bakersfield Symphony; Southwest Chamber Ensemble; Quinteto Latino; The New West Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; and Jazz/World artists like Paul McCandless of Oregon and ECM fame and Dave Williams' Not Quite Free Ensemble. Continuing his constant experimental hunger, Martin now incorporates at certain shows modern technologies with indigenous instruments and has worked with DJ Hap, DJ Omid and the famous, DJ Ed 808. Martin's latest adventure for his experimental music side is called ELECTRA AZTECA, mixing indigenous Mexican instruments with high technology, creating an uplifting groove oriented music! MEXIKA on the other hand is getting more and more attention and performing at more top events and venues!