Songs Of The Homeland: History of Tejano Music



Nice footage of Narciso Martinez, Flaco Jiminez, etc.

Narciso Martinez has been called the “father” of the modern conjunto for promoting the accordion and the bajo sexto and for his creativity as an accordionist.

Searching for a way to stamp his personal style on the accordion, in the 1930’s Martinez abandoned the old, Germanic technique by virtually avoiding the bass-chord buttons on his two-row accordion, concentrating instead on the right hand, treble melody buttons. His sound was instantly distinctive and recognizable. Its brighter, snappier, and cleaner tone contrasted with the older sound, in which bajo sexto and the accordionist’s left hand both played bass-and accompaniment, creating a “thicker,” drone-like effect. Martinez left bassing and chordal accompaniment to the bajo sexto of his most capable partner, Santiago Almeida.

Narciso Martinez’s new style became the hallmark of the surging conjunto, just as Almeida’s brisk execution on the bajo sexto created the standard for future bajistas. Together, the two had given birth to the modern conjunto, a musical style that would challenge even the formidable mariachi in cultural breadth and depth of public acceptance. Indeed, by the 1970s it could be said that the conjunto, known in the larger market as musica nortena, was the most powerful musical symbol of working-class culture.

Martinez, however, remained an absolutely modest folk musician until his death. He never laid claim to anything but a desire to please his public. Yet, as Pedro Ayala, another of the early accordion leaders, acknowledged, “after Narciso, what could the rest of us do except follow his lead?”



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