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Mexican Music - German Origins?

30 Sep 01 - 06:29 PM (#562101)
Subject: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Just Curious -

Listening to a Mexican Station, while washing cars today, it struck me that "Ranchero" or "La Banda" ballads with their ONE,Two,three ONE,Two,three OMP-Pa-pa OMP-Pa-pa, accordian and brass are almost indistinguishable, from a distance, to the sounds of a German Beer Garden. These are not the tunes/rythems/chords commonly heard in Spain.

In the morphology of popular radio Mexican music, what happened?

30 Sep 01 - 06:47 PM (#562111)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: RWilhelm

There was an interesting documentary on PBS called "Accordian Dreams" about the origin and development of Conjunto music (aka TexMex). At the end of the 19th Century Mexican-American communities were influenced by German immigrants in Southern Texas. As a result, the button accordion as well as polkas and waltzes became part of their music. I don't know how far into Mexico the influence went but it is definitely true in border music.

30 Sep 01 - 06:56 PM (#562117)
Subject: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Joe Offer

Good question, Gargoyle. I thought I had more information on it, but I found only one book that discussed the topic - The Texas-Mexican Conjunto by Manuel Peña. Peña says tht by 1850, Germans have begun to establish themselves in Northern Mexico, and to assume Mexican citizenship. There was an especially large German community around Monterrey, and many Germans were employed in that city's brewing industry. Peña says German workers introduced the accordion to Mexico, and it's my understanding that they also brought the polka.
-Joe Offer-

01 Oct 01 - 12:13 AM (#562273)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Thanks, I will look for Conjunto references, perhaps the PBS or Pena sources will have a bib.

More later.

01 Oct 01 - 06:06 AM (#562415)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Sourdough

My wife is Bavarian and I have always kidded her that Mexican music sounds like her music. When I read the book, "Texas", I understood a little about the German influence in the border region but I would love to know more about this topic.


01 Oct 01 - 10:29 AM (#562519)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,Doc Rock

A lot of Germans settled in the vicinity of Austin in the 1840s, and there are a lot of towns in that region with German names. I think that German is still spoken in some areas. I would assume that Mexican/Tejanos traditionally provided a lot of the labor for German farmers, hence the occasion for cultural influences. I also believe that is the area where Flaco Jiminez (and his father who was a legenday accordionist) is from. Based on my limited exposure to Mexican music, it seems as though there is more of a polka influence on Tex-Mex music than in Mexico.

01 Oct 01 - 10:37 AM (#562531)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Dani

And plus they both do dances with similar skirt moves! I think I even remember that the folk costumes are alike in many ways. HA!!! You guys are cultural detectives!


01 Oct 01 - 12:54 PM (#562613)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Joe Offer

I had forgotten - Austrian archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, 1832–67, was emperor Maximilian of Mexico (1864–67).
-Joe Offer-

01 Oct 01 - 04:20 PM (#562792)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: M.Ted

There were a lot of Bohemians that moved to Texas, as well. Chris Strachwitz' documented a lot of this in his album notes for a lot of the Conjunto music that he released on Arhoolie--also. it seems to me that Les Blank discussed it a bit in his documentary on Norteno music--the name, I can't remember--There were many German immigrants to Mexico--When I lived in PA, I was amazed to discover that many of the PA Dutch had sister communities that they continued to be contected to in Mexico--

01 Oct 01 - 05:43 PM (#562857)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Wesley S

Do check out the Accordian Dreams site at PBS - it should have some of the things you are looking for. There was a thread on this show about a month or so ago. Refresh "Accordian Dreams".

02 Oct 03 - 08:09 PM (#1028393)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,Brian Merta

There's also the small matter of the Hessian mercenaries used in the Texan War of Independence. It seems that some of Santa Ana's soldier's, being good Catholics, had a bit of problem with killing Mexican, Spanish, and Irish Catholics on the Texan side. To get around this, he hired the Hessians, who , being Protestant, had no problem killing Catholics. They also had plenty of practice at it as well.
After the Texans beat the Mexican army, some of the Hessians settled in Mexico City, among other places. This not only explains the Germanic influences on the music, but also the fact that there are blond-haired, blue-eyed Mexicans.

02 Oct 03 - 10:00 PM (#1028464)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Ely

Yes, Tejanos borrowed a lot from German music.

Texas is full of Germans (I'm one of the only people I know who is of German descent whose family is NOT "Texan"). Until recently, there were people who grew up here speaking *only* German. My mother met a 50-ish woman recently who spoke with a heavy German accent; her family has lived in Texas since the 1840's but she didn't really learn English until she came to Houston in the late 1960's.

Since EVERYBODY seems to have settled in Texas at some point, I'm sure the Germans weren't the only polka-playing people. Texas also had a comparatively large Wendish (Sorbian) population at one point--they came here seeking religious and cultural freedom. I don't know if they traditionally played polkas but they did come from Germany.

02 Oct 03 - 10:38 PM (#1028483)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Mentioned before are the singvereins in Texas. One large colony came with the Prince of New Braunfels (a Texas city named for him). He brought several well-educated people with him- I believe the year was 1854. When I was at University in Austin, among the texts I used to learn German were some discards from the schools in the central Texas area where German was used along with English in the elementary grades.

With regard to the polka, however, this became a popular dance in England and the States in the mid-Victorian period. Queen Victoria's court learned and danced it (influence of the Hanoverians and Prince Albert most likely). Many American polkas and mazurkas were written during the 19th century, just check the sheet music. The polka should not be associated with any single group of settlers.

03 Oct 03 - 12:37 AM (#1028532)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: The Fooles Troupe

The German button accordeon called the Bandoneon was introduced into South America, where it became the main instrument for the Tango.

Now what else can we blame the Germans for?

Don't mention THE WAR!


03 Oct 03 - 12:43 AM (#1028534)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: mack/misophist

!. I once knew a man from Lukenbach, Texas; a Cajun who grew up speaking French and German but didn't learn English until he had to learn it to go to college.

2. Half the major breweries in Latin America were founded by Germans. I believe even San Miguel had some Germans involved.

3. In the 50's there were still a number of towns where the majority spoke German...... or Czech.

4. When I was in college in the early 60's the only music on the radio on Sunday was the Czech Polka Hour - 3 solid hours with no English other than the station ID.

Given all this, it would be suprizing if the influence didn't extend a few hundred miles farther south.

03 Oct 03 - 06:38 AM (#1028666)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: RangerSteve

On a number of the Tex-Mex records issued by Arhoolie, the album notes point out the German influence on the music. The tune known here as "Roll Out the Barrels" shows up on a lot of Tex-Mex records under various names. On one of the Arhoolie records, there's a polka called "La Raspingona" that also showed up on a recording I own of a Lithuanian band. I suppose it could have been exported from Germany to both countries. Or Mexicans originally came from Lithuania, a theory that Thor Heyerdahl was investigating when he died.

03 Oct 03 - 04:48 PM (#1029153)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: C-flat

The musical similarities had never occurred to me untill Gargoyles' astute observation.
The more I find out, the more I realise I don't know!

03 Oct 03 - 08:01 PM (#1029286)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,Nerd

The Les Blank films are Chulas Fronteras and Del Mero Corazon. Conjunto musicians are well aware of the German roots of their music as well, so any serious published account of conjunto or Norteno music will inevitably mention the German influence.

02 Dec 05 - 01:38 PM (#1618700)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?

The oldest music school in the Americas is in Mexico City. Oaxacan musicians studied with Strauss in Vienna. Mexico was quite civilized and cosmopolitan while the future US was still a backwater outpost of English mercantilism. A lot of the German influence in Mexico came from Spanish/Mexican initiative.

Another possible source of German influence was the conquistadors. Many of them were teutonic mercenaries. Having ejected the Moors from Spain in 1492 after 200 years of hacking at them, Ferdinand and Isabella were only too happy to pack their armies of mercenaries overseas where they could not easily stir up trouble in the royal court. Many hispanic surnames such as Gonzalez and Gutierrez are from teutonic names.

The Christian crusade in Iberia resulted in a lot of other dislocations, including the expulsion of Iberian Jews (many to the Netherlands) and in lingering enmity between Muslims and Christians which you may encounter to this day.

02 Dec 05 - 01:52 PM (#1618709)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker

as a longtime lover of Eastern European music..

what about the 'Tex-Czech's..

heres a convenient cut'n'paste from Tom Wait's favourite albums list..

"12 Bohemian-Moravian Bands by Texas-Czech (Folk Lyric) 1993

I love these Czech-Bavarian bands that landed in Texas of all places. The seminal river for mariachi came from that migration to that part of the United States, bringing the accordion over, just like the drum and fife music of post slavery, they picked up the revolutionary war instruments and played blues on them. This music is both sour and bitter, and picante, and floating above itself like steam over the kettle. There's a piece called the 'Circling Pigeons Waltz', it's the most beautiful thing - kind of sour, like a wheel about to go off the road all the time. It's the most lilting little waltz. It's accordion, soprano sax, clarinet, bass, banjo and percussion."

02 Dec 05 - 02:29 PM (#1618735)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

The German influence in Tex-Mex music stems largely from the German colony in central Texas, centered on New Braunfels, which influenced all music in the region. The success of the colony, established in 1845, which included professional men including a geologist, artisans, musicians, and teachers, led by Prince Carl von Solms-Braunfels and Nicolaus Zink, led to other German immigration to the southwest. New Braunfels quickly became a manufacturing and commercial center.

Of course, the older European influences other than Spanish in Mexico are well-known; Baroque liturgical music form Mexico and other Latin American sources is well recorded. Mexico City was a boom town of the 16th-17th centuries, and Italians and other Europeans were attracted to it and other colonial cities.

Gonzales (Gundisalvis) in its several spellings is a medieval name in Spain, and predates Teutonic mercenaries. Gutierrez (Gutierre) is thought to be Visigothic, but the name in Christian Spain dates well before the time of Isabella and Ferdinand.

02 Dec 05 - 08:35 PM (#1619001)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Kaleea

Wow. Years ago, I listened to some "Mexican Polka Music" on the radio & figured there had to be some conneciton there. I had no idea about the Strauss connection.   What a melting pot we'unz from the Wild West are.

02 Dec 05 - 09:23 PM (#1619025)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: The Fooles Troupe

Senator Boswell, commenting on Howard ramming new repressive Aussie legislation thru on the party numbers, boasted

"It's all going like a German Band"


02 Dec 05 - 11:20 PM (#1619080)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Since originally posting...I have been led to Mexican Songs with defined Germanic-type "omm-pah-pah," with "omm-pah-pah" origins

It should be a COMMANDANT that all "song-catchers" carry a microsphone and recorder.

This one I have a chance to catch again - his Cantonese wife teaches "Ballet Folklorico."


03 Dec 05 - 03:26 PM (#1619423)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Stilly River Sage

Perhaps that Commandant will operate under the commandment to carry a mic?

15 to 20 years ago I heard a radio program (probably NPR) on this subject of the German influence in Mexican music. The strongest early German influence on Mexico was the ill-fated reign of Maximilian and Carlotta, at the time of Lincoln. I was interested enough to go find a book on Maximilian (The Cactus and the Crown by Catherine Gavin, long out of print, but interesting).

Pretty interesting stuff.

03 Dec 05 - 03:30 PM (#1619428)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Stilly River Sage

Hmmm. I just looked up that book, and ABE lists it as a novel. It would have been a historical novel along the lines of "creative nonfiction," and it read like a history book. Perhaps also I'm conflating this with other nonfiction material I read at the time.


03 Dec 05 - 07:38 PM (#1619537)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Of course, the presence of abundant polkas, varsouviennes, schottisches, etc. in Mexico indicates the universal popularity of these European dances in the latter half of the 19th century, not just the influence of immigrants. Spanish and Portuguese, Russian, Czech and other European sheet music as well as American and Canadian, has much of it.
Johann Strauss was responsible for polkas and varsouviennes as well as waltzes, which spread everywhere European languages were spoken and ballroom dancing was popular.

03 Dec 05 - 07:48 PM (#1619541)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Azizi

Somewhat off topic:

At one time I had an uptempo Zydeco song on my telephone answering machine. Zydeco music {an important part of African American
New Orleans culture} features the accordian.

One time a supervisor from my former place of employment called me and left a message on my answering machine. He prefaced his message by saying that he really liked the polka music I had recorded on the machine.

After he said that, I listened to some polka music-though I had to hunt some up :0)

and I was surprised to hear how my supervisor could have mistaken that Zydeco song for a polka.

Does anyone here who knows Zydeco music and polka music think there are similarities between these two types of music?

Disclaimer: I AM NOT saying that Zydeco music has any German origins.

03 Dec 05 - 07:55 PM (#1619546)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Azizi

Sorry, one of my sentences confused even me..

I meant to say that I heard the similarities between the Zydeco song I had recorded on my answering machine and polka songs.

06 May 06 - 04:17 AM (#1733885)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,joe

if you are a true mexican like i am the music come from the heart from where that you came from because we all come from a difrent place in life   so who can say that we like all kind's of music thought in life all music is good too though's that's just life deal with it   ;;;

06 May 06 - 08:57 AM (#1733966)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,Baron Pancho von Villa

achtung minefelden caramba !!!!!!!

06 May 06 - 10:37 PM (#1734286)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?

bud if yo bee africaner lik me yo kno dare ain no spic or kraut in rap the OG be no wannabe we be free to flo an go

07 May 06 - 01:38 AM (#1734384)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Bert

Ely says above that 'Texas is full of Germans'

So THAT explains why our Texan President has so often been compared to Hitler.

07 May 06 - 11:35 AM (#1734522)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Stilly River Sage

West and north of Austin there is a little town called Fredericksburg that has a lot of German families and activities and restaurants and such. There are a lot of other ethnic communities around Texas, as one would expect.

Hitler was his own creation, I don't think it's fair to compare him to all Germans (and he was from Austria, anyway). It is equally unfair to suggest that Texas is responsible for Dubya's megalomania. As a non-Texan living in Texas I can still speak up for the place. Spread the wealth--it took all 50 states to elect this joker.


07 May 06 - 03:21 PM (#1734680)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Bert

Why do people take things so seriously?

07 May 06 - 03:32 PM (#1734689)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Bert and guests, why junk up a good thread with garbage? Leave that to CNN and simple (mind-boggled) Lou Dobbin and Wolf Bluster.

Fredericksburg-see post 02 Dec.-05 above about the carefully planned and well-organized German colony of Prince Karl von Solms and Nicolaus Zenk in this area of central Texas.

31 Aug 06 - 03:12 PM (#1823776)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,Joel Jacklich

There is a connection to the German sound of Norteño music from Mexico's border area with the U.S (Sonora, etc.). Maximillian's army had European mercenaries in it, among them Germans, Austrians, etc. Although European ballroom music (waltzes, polkas, schottisches, etc.) had been popular in Mexico pre-Maximillian, once he took the throne, that type of music really flourished. When his wife fled to Europe to seek aid for his floundering government, and later when Maximillian was captured and executed, many members of his court fled to Europe. Many soldiers could have fled also, but many had married Mexican wives. Space being limited in the escaping ships, there was not enough room. Many soldiers stayed with their new families, rather than leave without them. The victorious Mexicans were none too happy about these European mercenaries, and pursued many of them. Many of these mercenaries fled north across the Sonoran desert where the Mexicans thought the desert would finish them off. They survived, however, and settled down in the north of Mexico.    Their music becane a staple there also. (Look at singer Linda Ronstadt--nice Germanic name. She is from that area. Think great-grandaddy might have been one of Maximillian's soldiers? I don'tknow. Just asking.)

24 Feb 11 - 04:08 PM (#3102126)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,serg

that music you guys say is similar to german music is called banda. it originated from the state of sinaloa because of all the german influence in the 1880s and 1920s. there were a large immigration of germans to the state not to mention the poles to. later after this it started spreading to sonora and other states as well.

16 Dec 11 - 05:29 PM (#3275096)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: GUEST,livingandlearning

Pflugerville Texas is named after the famous Pfluger family that stole..uhm...murdered...uh...settled the land after the native indians were uhm...slaughtered...uh...gracefully removed from the area with care and compassion (not really) slightly north of Austin Texas. Each year at the end of May they celebrate their German heritage. The real question is where did Germans get the accordian?

Seems the accordian began development in China. As trade routes opened the accordian developed more as adjustments were made to it until the accordian we have today appeared. I am not taking away the German influence--only suggestion that Mexicans somehow stole the accordian from Germans and now Germans are making a claim on Mexican music. If that is the case, then the Chinese should make their claim on the German accordian.


17 Dec 11 - 05:40 AM (#3275335)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?
From: Wheatman

What an interesting thread, what goes around comes around. Two tunes, learned from our good friends Bayou Seco have now entered the folk ether in the fens,(North Cambridgeshire South Lincolnshire UK). The tunes, peanut shoes and purple lilies polkas were collected by Ken and Jeanie from Elliot Johnson of Cababi, Arizona, a Gu-Achi fiddler. I was playing for a local history group with my mate Woody and these were in the set. On explaining to the audience the history of the tuned a rather large lady at the back of the hall interjected in a very Germanic voice "those tunes come from Bavaria".
As far as "roll out the barrel" is concerned we hear it every year at carnival when we go to see straw bears in Odenwald also, have heard it played by a carnival group from the Czech Republic.
Gan Canny

03 Jun 12 - 01:30 PM (#3358812)
Subject: RE: Mexican Music - German Origins?

The Germans went to Mexico you person.