Onda Latina

The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

Nav: Home


La MúSica NorteñA - Part 1 Of 3
Program #

John Wheat
John Wheat
Jul 21, 2018

La Música Norteña - Part 1 of 3

The first in a three part series examining Norteña music, this episode hosted by John Wheat Gibson explores the origins and history of the musical traditions of South Texas and Northern Mexico. Gibson explains that many of the dances associated with Texas music today, including the waltzes and polkas, came to the region with the arrival of Spanish Soldiers and German and Bohemian settlers in the early 1800s. These musical forms gradually spread through the region and began to take on several other musical characteristics, including the presence of a violin or flute. This instruments were part of the orquesta tipica of Northern Mexico and the popular dances of the time.

Gibson explains that this area also had a strong lyrical tradition that combined Mexican lyrical couplets with Spanish romances. Musicians would gather in plazas throughout South Texas to play their music, and it was in these plazas that many popular singers, including Lydia Mendoza, got their start. Gibson plays clips from interviews with several of these singers.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, as people began to move to urban areas, Mexican-American musicians began to adopt the instruments and styles of other genres, including German polkas and accordion music. Musicians like Narciso Martinez and Flaco Jimenez popularized the accordion throughout the region and created their own unique style. By the late 1930s, musicians began to blend their music with the lyrical tradition already in place and this style has come to typify Norteña music.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

DIIA | © 2009 Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services