Tex-Mex and Tejano

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Tejano is also the name given to Texans of Mexican or Spanish origin.

Tejano (Spanish for "Texan") and Tex-Mex music are names given to various forms of folk and popular music originating among the Mexican-descended Tejanos of Central and South Texas. In recent years artists such as Selena Quintanilla have transformed Tejano music from primarily a local, ethnic form of music to a genre with wide appeal in North America, Latin America, and beyond.

Central to the evolution of early Tejano music was the blend of traditional Mexican forms such as the corrido, and Continental European styles introduced by German and Czech settlers in the late 19th century. In particular, the accordion was adopted by Tejano folk musicians at the turn of the 20th century, and it became a popular instrument for amateur musicians in Texas and Northern Mexico. Small bands known as orquestas, featuring amateur musicians, became a staple at community dances.

Narciso Martinez (1911-1992) gave Tejano accordion playing a new virtuosity in the 1930s, when he adopted the two button row accordion. At the same time, he formed a group with Santiago Almeida, a bajo sexto (twelve string bass guitar) player. Their new musical style, known as conjunto soon became the popular music of the working class Tejano. Flaco Jimenez (1939-), the son of an accordionist and grandson of a man who had learned the instrument from a German immigrant, carried on Martinez's tradition of accordion virtuosity and became a fixture on the international World Music scene by the 1980s.

In the 1950s and 1960s, rock and roll and country music made inroads, and electric guitars and drums were added to conjunto combos. Also, performers such as Little Joe added both nuances of jazz and R&B, and a Chicano political consciousness.

In the 1980s, electronic instruments and synthesizers increasingly dominated the sound, and Tejano music increasing appealed to bilingual country and rock fans in the Southwest. In the early 1990s, Selena Quintanilla Perez (1971-1995) and her band Los Dinos infused pop and cumbia (a lilting Colombian dance rhythm) into Tejano music, making the genre popular with non-Mexican Latinos and Latin Americans. In the wake of her murder, Selena's music received attention from a mainstream American audience as well.

Tejano music is American as Apple Pie. It was concieved and born in Texas. Although it has influences from Mexico and other Latin American countries, the main influences are American. Listen to any contemporary classic Tejano artist such as Jay Perez and you can hear these influences, Rock, Jazz, Blues, Funk and, Country. The sound is not a mish-mash of sounds but rather an amalgam of all these influences that create a music that is definitive and unique.

It is important to understand that Tejano music has 3 categories of bands: Conjunto, Orchestra and Modern. A Conjunto band is comprised of an accordion, a bajo-sexto ,a bass and, a drum. An Orchestra consists of a bass,drum, electric guitar, synthesizer and, a brass section which it relies heavily on for its sound. It can also have an accordion in the band at times. A Modern Tejano band consists of syntesizers, drums, electric guitar, bass and at times an accordion. It relies heavily on the synthesizer for its sound. All of these bands can be classified as Tejano Bands. Examples of Conjunto Bands are The Hometown Boys and David Lee Garza y Los Musicales. An example of an Orchestra is Ruben Ramos and the Texas Revolution. Modern Bands are Jay Perez and Jimmy Gonzalez and Mazz.

At the turn of the 21st century, today's Tejano music, while far more pop-oriented than in its Depression era roots, is one of the most vital regional musical styles in the United States.

The term Tex-Mex is also used in American rock and roll for Tejano-influenced performers such as the Sir Douglas Quintet; Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs; Louie and the Lovers; The Champs with "Tequila"; the Texas Tornados, featuring Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender, Augie Meyer, and Doug Sahm; and Los Lonely Boys.

Texan accordion music has influenced Basque trikitixa players.

Related Topics

Tex-Mex is also a type of Mexican food which originated in Texas. See Tex-Mex cuisine.

Tejanos means also blue jeans in the Spanish language of some parts of Spain, particularly Catalonia.

American roots music
Appalachian | Blues (Ragtime) | Cajun and Creole (Zydeco) | Country (Honky tonk and Bluegrass) | Jazz | Native American | Spirituals and Gospel | Tejano

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