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View Full Version : What is "Mexican Polka" music all about?


Jpeg Jones
11-08-2005, 03:10 PM
I don't have a better term for it than "Mexican Polka". But I do get a large daily dosage of it from many of my neighbors.

The supreme sucktacity of this genre of - I hesitate to call it - music, is not the main point of my question, however. Even though it is completely and literally retarded.

I don't speak Spanish, so can anyone tell me what the heck the lyrics are typically about? I mean, each song is virtually identical to the last. Are they usually love songs, or laments of some kind, or what? And I guess I'd like to know if it has a name too.

Duke of Rat
11-08-2005, 03:17 PM
A little info Here (http://www.mexfoldanco.org/North.html)

The Czechoslovakian Polka, The Polish Mazurka and Redowa, The Scottish Schottische, English Square dancing, and the Austrian Waltzen were brought into Mexico as ballroom dancing by the silly Mexican aristocracy of the early to mid-1800's. By the time Don Porfirio Diaz took power (1870), there were already many local compositions inspired by these rhythms. The lower classes, still in servitude, mocked the rich and their snotty rhythms giving them a political-comical twist, creating thus the ubiquitous "Mexican polka" and the musical narrating "corridos". As the flame of the revolution ran rampant in the North, the Polka and the corrido became a sort of musical newspapers, since most people were illiterate at the time.

Before the revolution, the German settlers of Texas brought in their own musical instruments: the accordion, the sax, and bass guitar and the original taste of these rhythms, which were immediately absorbed and adopted by the locals creating the "conjunto" out of these elements. Border music is still en vogue today.

I wondered about this myself, as I lived down the street from a Tejano bar and used to drink beer and shoot pool there. The only music I ever heard was these polkas, but I never asked the guys what it was about.

AskNott
11-08-2005, 04:28 PM
Once I heard Brave Combo on the radio. They're a TexMex polka band, and they explained there's a lot of German folks along the border.

Frank
11-08-2005, 05:07 PM
I'm going to move this to our forum dedicated to the arts.

Moved from IMHO to MPSIMS.

Hoodoo Ulove
11-08-2005, 06:16 PM
IThe supreme sucktacity of this genre of - I hesitate to call it - music . . .it is completely and literally retarded. . . . I mean, each song is virtually identical to the last.What sort of crap do you listen to?

Happy Lendervedder
11-08-2005, 06:41 PM
I'm going to move this to our forum dedicated to the arts.

Moved from IMHO to MPSIMS.

Modular slip?


Anyway, I love this music. They play it often on 105.1 in Chicago. I think it might be the Polack in me coming out.

Johnny L.A.
11-08-2005, 06:53 PM
I don't have a better term for it than "Mexican Polka".
I used to work with a guy who played guitar in a mariachi band. He called it 'Mexican Oompah Music' and hated it. (Nor do I. I don't like mariachi music either.)

Johnny L.A.
11-08-2005, 06:55 PM
(Nor do I. I don't like mariachi music either.)
Should've been 'Nor do I [/i]like it either[/i].'

lissener
11-08-2005, 07:27 PM
I have a discful of Mexican Polkas, and nothing gets a party started better. (I was working temp once, and as usual I brought along my CD wallets, and within the first couple days the office had ceded total control of the music system over to me. Not sure what direction to take once, I asked my boss, "Atmospheric guitar or Mexican polka?" and she said, "Mexican polka." So I put it on. And then I hear from her office, "Oh my god you were serious! You really have a disc of Mexican polka!" It was quickly an office favorite.)

Hoodoo Ulove
11-08-2005, 07:27 PM
I used to work with a guy who played guitar in a mariachi band. He called it 'Mexican Oompah Music' and hated it. (Nor do I. I don't like mariachi music either.)Norteña is not the same as mariachi.

Johnny L.A.
11-08-2005, 07:31 PM
Norteña is not the same as mariachi.
Right. The mariachi musician didn't like 'Mexican Oompah Music', as he called it. I also don't like it. I don't like mariachi music either.

Hoodoo Ulove
11-08-2005, 07:37 PM
Right. The mariachi musician didn't like 'Mexican Oompah Music', as he called it. I also don't like it. I don't like mariachi music either.I should have read more closely. Put me in the "likes norteña, not mariachi" group.

Paul in Qatar
11-08-2005, 08:21 PM
Funny, I have always heard it called banda. I do not care for it, but different courses for different horses.

even sven
11-08-2005, 09:13 PM
Am I the only one here who loves this stuff?

Hey, It's That Guy!
11-09-2005, 12:07 AM
I'm just amused by the use of accordions in any musical genre, so I can take nortena music in very small doses. But to my unpracticed ear, too many subgenres of Latin music all sound alike to me. I prefer flamenco-style guitar and that happy, wacky mariachi stuff in general.

euphemism
11-09-2005, 02:48 AM
I will have mexican polka music seared into my brain for years to come. I've lived in a quiet neighborhood for years, and this state of affairs was shattered when the ENTIRE quadplex next door was taken over by a bunch of 20 year olds obsessed this this music They would blast it ALL hours, often passionately singing along at the top of their lungs. Everything they did apparently had to be done as loudly as possible, from visitors honking their horn incessantly at 4 a.m. trying to wake them up to go to work (apparently ignorant of the fact that they're getting everyone elses attention too) to practically yelling at the top of their voice to somebody standing 2 freekin' feet from them. Attempting to talk to any of them directly was a bust, as they feigned ignorance of english, they would just nod their heads and say ok...landlord apparently didn't give a damn that the quality of life on this part of the block was going dramatically downhill because of the new source of major noise pollution. Cops (yes, I actually had to call the cops for noise complaints the first, second, third, etc. time in my life) but of course these partyboys stayed lucid enough to see the cops coming up the street and magically you can suddenly hear the crickets chirping as soon as the squad car came up, only to hear the music cranked up again as soon as the cops left. They finally all moved out on their own accord a few weeks ago returning this part of the block to normalcy. Sorry just had to rant, but this topic struck a nerve...

Happy Lendervedder
11-09-2005, 07:35 AM
Am I the only one here who loves this stuff?

Ya missed Post # 6, huh?

The Batman
11-09-2005, 11:23 AM
It's normally called Banda and it's probably the most popular music in Mexico. I once took a bus from Mexico City to Dallas, I had a radio with me and all the radio stations were either news or Banda, even in Texas. Here in Tijuana it's the only thing most people ever listen to. Even in San Diego the occasional car will drive by blasting that infernal accordion,it's so embarrasing that I feel like I got to apologize to other people on the street when it happens.

And to answer the OP: most are love songs and laments but some are about drug dealing and coyotes (immigrant smugglers), those are banned by alot of radio stations in Mexico.

Johnny L.A.
11-09-2005, 11:26 AM
. Here in Tijuana...
'Ekkeess-tay-aray-ah, effay-emmay, Tijuana, Mexico.'

kelly5078
11-09-2005, 12:08 PM
I could have a lot wrong, so feel free to correct me.

I have always associated this music primarily with San Antonio, and have heard it ever since I got to Texas. San Antonio is adjacent to the Texas hill country, which was largely settled by Germans in the 19th century, and that's the source. The Mexicans picked it up. Here in Texas, we just call it Tex-Mex.

The class of the field for this stuff generally considered to be accordianist Flaco Jimenez, although he has a fairly broad stylistic range. A lot of it (though I don't think much of Jimenez's music) mainly features accordians and synthesizers.

I was surprised to read that it's so popular in Mexico; I thought it was mainly a US form.

Most of the Mexican Americans I know consider it to be hick music, and wouldn't listen to it if you paid them. But the guys out there doing the cheap manual labor that keeps Texas affordable seem to love it.

Caprese
11-09-2005, 01:06 PM
Los Lobos (from east LA, of "How Will The Wolf Survive" fame) definitely make their own music, but seem to have been *influenced* by "Mexican polka" type music. I love those guys.

The Batman
11-09-2005, 01:14 PM
by Johnny L.A.:
'Ekkeess-tay-aray-ah, effay-emmay, Tijuana, Mexico.'

What?

elmwood
11-09-2005, 01:14 PM
And to answer the OP: most are love songs and laments but some are about drug dealing and coyotes (immigrant smugglers), those are banned by alot of radio stations in Mexico.

A clue to the OP: listen for key words like corazon (heart), esposa (wife) or mujer (girlfriend), and El Norte (The North, a reference to the United States). It's guaranteed that one or more of those words will appear liberally in any noretna/ranchero/banda song. If you hear all of those words in a song, the song is probably about someone who's working as a migrant laborer in the States, and how they miss their lover back home; it's an EXTREMELY common theme.

In Mexico itself, the music is supposedly most popular among rural residents in northern states. Demographically, it's the equivalent of country music in the US. Since so many immigrants to the US are from rural areas in northern Mexico, the oompa tunes are about the only ones you'll hear in Mexican-American neighborhoods. Imagine if there was a wave of American immigrants in ... oh, Sweden, and they all came from rural Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. Same thing.

One thing about that style of music: I've never, ever heard it played at anything but ear-splitting volumes. I lived in New Mexico for four years, and I was never in a store, restaurant or someone's house where Mexican oompa music was playing softly, much less a volume that didn't cause your orejas to bleed. The decibel level of mariachi and guitar music was normally comfortable, but anything accordions and tubas into the mix, and the volume knob was always turned up to 11.

pocelene
11-09-2005, 01:19 PM
Accordians are fun. What's to guess?

cher3
11-09-2005, 01:26 PM
by Johnny L.A.:


What?

On English stations that also broadcast in Mexico, they periodically have a recorded station identification message in Spanish.

And it's Baja California, Mexico

The Batman
11-09-2005, 01:37 PM
On English stations that also broadcast in Mexico, they periodically have a recorded station identification message in Spanish.

:smack: XETRA FM, Of course! I thought it was pig latin! No wonder it didn't make any sense.

lorinada
11-09-2005, 01:52 PM
These (http://www.olg-parish.org/fiesta/music.htm) sites (http://www.hispaniconline.com/hh/tejano.html) explain it all. Here you will see that Banda is definitely not what the OP is referring to. If his description is correct, what he's hearing is likely tejano, conjunto or norteño.

lissener
11-09-2005, 02:27 PM
Ya missed Post # 6, huh?
And #9 apparently.

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
11-09-2005, 02:37 PM
And it's Baja California, Mexico
The XETRA station ID used to be "Tijuana, Mexico," but changed to "Baja California, Mexico" sometime around the '70s, IIRC. It was a little more rhythmic the first way.

Gatopescado
11-09-2005, 03:34 PM
These (http://www.olg-parish.org/fiesta/music.htm) sites (http://www.hispaniconline.com/hh/tejano.html) explain it all. Here you will see that Banda is definitely not what the OP is referring to. If his description is correct, what he's hearing is likely tejano, conjunto or norteño.

I was thinking conjunto when I read the first few posts. Impossible to stay in a bad mood with this stuff playing, but the craving for guacamole is overwhelming. I love it!

PBS ran a real good special on the art recently.

iluvurmom
11-09-2005, 03:57 PM
For some reason this music always makes me laugh, I have no idea why...just the sound of it and the way people react to it...jumping, yelling, screaming...humor at it's best my friends, humor at it's best...

Mr2001
11-09-2005, 10:17 PM
Loveline plays a game based on this stuff from time to time: Ace's Mexican Ranchero Accordion Countdown. They load up a random song, set the seek bar to a random point in the song, and then Adam, Drew, and their guests place bets on how many seconds it'll be from the time they push play until they hear an accordion.

elmwood
11-10-2005, 09:11 AM
Any reason why the genre is only played at EAR-SPLITTING VOLUMES? Don't say "It's because you can't hear it from passing cars if it's quiet" - even in public places, I've never heard it at a reasonable volume. Mariachi music and classical Spanish guitar are normally played at tolerable volumes, but when there's accordions and tubas, the volume is always 11. If I'm at a construction site, the mullet rock played by the framers and drywallers is never as loud as the norteno blasting when the landscapers come in. When I lived in New Mexico, same thing; in a neighborhood restaurant, all would be fine until "♪♫♬OOMPAOOMPA♪♫♬ mi corazon ♪♫♬OOMPAOOMPA♪♫♬ ay ay ay ♪♫♬OOMPAOOMPA♪♫♬ dios mio ♪♫♬OOMPAOOMPA♪♫♬ hwah hwah hwah ♪♫♬OOMPAOOMPA♪♫♬", at which point the volume knob would be turned clockwise as far as possible.

Slithy Tove
11-10-2005, 09:46 AM
Still, beats the shit out of Arab pop music.

mojave66
11-11-2005, 12:56 AM
Y'all are conflating a lot of different Mexicano genres.

Tejano has accordions, guitars, drums and a solid polka beat. Santiago Jimenez (Flaco's dad) was the master.

Norteño came through California, had accordions & polka beats but also included guitars, violins, sometimes horns. Lots of waltzes, cumbias and rancheras (one-steps) in the mix, too. Los Tigres del Norte is one of the biggest bands in this genre. Los Lobos eran puro Norteño but also genius enough to combine it with blues, rock, country & punk.

Banda is from Mexico proper, is usually in waltz time and the bass line is all about the sousaphone. It's usually vocals against the bass line, then blasts of mariachi-flavored brass. Banda orquestas are la-arge. Banda Macho and Banda Sinaloa are my two favs.

Me gusta ella todos.

ms.deanna
11-13-2005, 10:14 PM
I love a good cumbia myself. Orale!

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