"What Is Música Norteña?"
contributed byKarl Pischansky and Scott Barker
Music 334 Professor Sturman
October 11, 2002
Norteño music, or música norteña, which means northern music is frequently called "Tex-Mex music". Although Texan music began in the 1700's, when Texas was still part of Mexico, it was not until the early 1900's when música norteña emerged. Música norteña kept some of the different traits of Texan music but it developed a new sound with the addition of a diatonic button accordion. The diatonic button accordion is the heart of this style and began as a solo tradition. Some theorists believe that accordion music was popularized by the Germans and Bohemians settling in central Texas or by the Germans working in the mining and brewing industries in northern Mexico.
By the 1930's música norteña became so popular that guitarists began to pair with these accordionists. Ten years later, they began to incorporate lyrics of lost-love songs into their music, and by the 1950's música norteña became so popular that it was played in clubs, dance halls and cantinas.
In the late 1950's and early 1960's more instruments were added to the "conjuntos," or groups of musicians comprising música norteña bands. The instruments that now most typically represent a norteño group are the accordion, bajo sexto (a kind of bass guitar), electric bass, toloche (string bass) and drums. Sometimes an electronic keyboards or, more often, one or two saxophones are included in the conjunto. Today música norteña is heard by a wide variety of people in many parts of the world, including Tucson, which hosts the Norteño Music Festival every August
"Música Norteña" The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/mm/xbmt.html
Hispanic American Almanac, Gale, 1997; Discovering Multicultural America, Gale, 1999. http://www.gale.com/free_resources/chh/music/musnorte.htm