Mexico City (CNN) -- The United Nations' cultural organization recognized mariachi music Sunday in a move that Mexican authorities hope will help preserve the well-known tradition.
The songs -- often played on festive occasions by groups of guitar, violin and trumpet performers wearing traditional clothes or wide-brimmed hats -- are sung throughout Mexico, and have become a key part of regional identity, officials said.
"The community and the family hand down musically their knowledge, history and the pleasure of singing to the nature surrounding them. They consider it their own," Mexican officials said in their application to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), which added mariachi music to the organization's list of intangible cultural patrimony Sunday.
Putting mariachi on the list could increase awareness of the music, UNESCO said in a statement Sunday.
"Learning by ear is the main means of transmission of traditional Mariachi, and the skill is usually passed down from fathers to sons and through performance at festive, religious and civil events," the statement said.
Mexico's application notes that the music "has crossed borders and become a symbol of Mexico."
"Immigrants, descendants of Mexicans living abroad, as well as Latin Americans, have made the modern mariachi a symbol of community identity, because it is a bond linking them to their roots in spite of the distance," the application says.