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Tejano Music Essay, Research Paper

I. What I knew about Tejano music

For me it all started out with Selena. I remember a boy in my middle school class dedicating me “Como La Flor” at one of our school dances in seventh grade. After that Tejano just sort of stuck in my head and all I ever thought of the song was that I had rejected that boy. Selena was quite a Tejana star at the time, and I was shocked with her murder two years later. She was a five star role model for Mexican-Americans to relate to and appreciate. Her songs live on in the Tejano world, as does her sprit and love for the music.

Moving on to listen to bands such as La Mafia, Intenso, and Intocable; singing “Vida” by La Mafia was one of my favorite past times. Even though I could not speak Spanish well, I could always sing it well. I knew that they were regional bands and probably the only kind you could find in the Rio Grande Valley to play for a wedding, quincenera, or party.

I thought Tejano could not be born anywhere else but in Texas because after all that is the meaning of Tejano-Texan in Spanish. I have lived in South Texas all my life, which means that I grew up in an isolated Hispanic community. Although I was not a Tejano music fanatic, I related to the music and understood the words well. Tejano was not popular worldwide at the time but I held my favorites. I knew that as Mexican-Americans that this music was a blend of cultures.

Over time Tejano music became my favorite. I feel this music has so much feeling and love in it and at times it makes me emotional. “Corrazon”, by Intenso, always reminds me of an old heart break and I no matter what everytime I hear it I have to sing along. Every time I want to feel sad and happy all at once, I turn the radio to a Tejano station. I feel my roots in the music that our culture has created; I don’t believe Tejano music could be taken away from me now.

II. What I wanted to know

Tejano has been around for a long time, but how long? The length of time it has been around can say a lot about Tejano culture because music speaks so much for its people. Is it correct to assume that it was created here in Texas? What I really wanted to know was how it was created and how it has changed. What connection does Tejano music have to the community and how do we embrace it? Obviously the music has become very popular and I wanted to know how we came to love it and make it popular. I based my search on the Internet because I wanted to search a wide base.

III. Searching

I spent most of my time searching the Internet for the history of Tejano music and the Tejano community. I searched the Rio Grande Valley Internet sites because after all it is a great Hispanic base and it is rich with Mexican-American culture. I was disappointed in the fact that there are so little RGV sites on the Internet about culture. It became quite obvious to me that my community is not living in the fast paced world of the Internet quite as lavishly as others American races. I did find some good information on a site called http://www.ondanet.com about the history of Tejano. There was a wide selection of information that was not useful to me; they were Tejano music stores! I struggled to find more information and then I faced the fact that searching the Internet for Tejano information was not the best way to go.

IV. What I learned

Unfortunately I couldn’t answer all my questions in depth the way I had hoped but I did gain more knowledge on the Tejano subject. The subject on the history was limited on the Internet but there was some helpful information.

“The music, like the people, has shaped by the unusual experience of existing between two cultures. The result is a synthesis, which is not entirely Mexican or entirely American. No other medium besides music so closely reflects the Mexican American spirit.” (1)

I have learned that Tejano is unlike that of rock, rap, heavy metal, and country, it is more general. Tejano is made up of the music that we love to make and listen to.

“Tejano music is no generic because we are not generic. It is what we listen to and it in turn listens to us.” (2)

The music changes with our influence in the music. The Tejano culture, since its creation in the 18th century, has held strong ties with the Mexican borderlands. Today we still tie the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon and Tamalipas as an influence in our Tejano culture.

Other cultures brought their music to Texas and influenced Tejanos during the early 1900’s. In the 1850’s, Europeans from Germany, Poland and Czech republic migrated to Texas and Mexico but were later forced to flee during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1917. They left some of their culture behind which would later impact Tejanos. Some of the culture they left behind includes Polkas, Waltz, and other popular forms of music and dance. Tejanos at first mostly sang old songs from Mexico and Spain that had been passed down generations. As musicians of the time traveled though Texas they picked up the sounds and instruments of other cultures.

“With the accordion, drum and the bajo sexto, a 12 string bass guitar from Spain, Tejanos now had a sound they could begin to call their own.” (3)

So What is Tejano Music…….?

“Tejano Music is a unique blend of Rock ‘n Roll, Country, Polka, Rhythm and Blues. The sounds and lyrics reflect the emotions, pride, and multi-cultural experience of the Mexican-American lifestyle. The intergal part of Tejano music has a unique blend of the accordion and the Bajo-Sexto guitar (12 strings) that form the sound ” Tejano.” (4)

Whether they were the kind of songs that made you cry, get drunk, or rejoice in love they were songs that came from the heart of Tejano who has spent his whole life listening to Tejano music remembers it in a different way, I remember when Tejano was more of a slow type, girlie music, and in the 50’s that sound was taken away with such people as Joe Y La Familia. This new Tejano is what we hear today.


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