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 2 Of 3
Program #

John Wheat
John Wheat
Aug 20, 2018

La Música Norteña - Part 2 of 3

The second in a three part series examining Norteña music, this episode hosted by John Wheat Gibson explores the genre’s development between 1940 and 1950. By the late 1930s, Norteña music had attracted a large audience through its combination of accordion instrumentation and the duet vocals that came to characterize the genre. Its themes of love and loss appealed to the growing Spanish-speaking community in Texas many of whom had recently relocated to urban areas or moved to Texas from Mexico. These population shifts coincided with the rise of Mexican-owned recording businesses, like Falcon Records, who were able to further spread the genre beyond South Texas and into the rest of the United States and Latin America.

Moreover, during this period as more and more people left the ranchos for urban areas, they brought their music to the local clubs and cantinas. San Antonio’s West side became the center of Norteña music and it was there that many of the principle artists began experimenting with new instrumentation, including the bajo sexto, a type of bass guitar, and styles. Many of these clubs were destroyed during San Antonio’s revitalization program but the owners replaced them with lounges and salons that attracted new audiences. Soon after the genre became professionalized and musicians began touring Texas and eventually the United States, as they followed migrant audiences.

Throughout this episode, Gibson plays clips from several songs by Norteña musicians. Gibson concludes that the history of Norteña music is intertwined with the history of South Texas and the isolation of its culture.


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

DIIA | © 2009 Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services