German influence on Mexican Music

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 4.42.35 PMBy Julie Etra

Several years ago my husband and I went to Pluma Hidalgo for our periodic coffee fix and as we walked on to the square we heard the school band playing a Perez Prado song, all brass instruments, so although it was Cuban music I was intrigued by the all brass, and then another song followed with a 1-2-3- beat reminiscent of a polka (with the brass, definitely not a waltz). Knowing that the Germans established coffee plantations in Oaxaca and Chiapas I wondered what kind of influence they had on Mexican music, and perhaps particularly Oaxacan.

German influence is particularly notable in northern Mexican due to their immigration to Texas and northern Mexico in the 1830s. Various musical styles have evolved over time including tejano (Spanish for Texas), conjunto (with the bajo sexto, a 12 string guitar), quebradita (meaning little broken, with a lot of brass instruments), banda (a type of polka) ranchera, and norteño (northern Mexico). They brought with them the accordion, made popular by the Norteño/conjunto musician Narciso Martínez and played by contemporary Tex-Mex musicians such as Flaco Jimenez in los Super Seven (El Canoero). For old-school conjunto norteño, check out Los Alegres de Terán, Los Relámpagos del Norte, and Los Cadetes de Linares. And of course Los Tigres del Norte. In the Central Valley of California indigenous Oaxacan immigrants, who ordinarily do not identify with the accordion or norteño music, play the accordion. They play not only norteño music, but Chilena music from Oaxaca.

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