Texas-Mexican music, or m#65533;sica tejana , is not one single music but several musical and musico-literary genres, ensembles, and their styles, encompassing the corrido , canci#65533;n , and what author Manuel Pe#65533;a calls the canci#65533;n-corrido . M#65533;sica tejana also includes two major regional ensembles and their styles--the conjunto and the Texas-Mexican version of the orquesta . A more recent crop of synthesizer-driven ensembles and their styles, known since the mid-eighties as "Tejano," is another representative of m#65533;sica tejana.
Despite their diversity, these various ensembles, genres, and styles share two fundamental characteristics: they are all homegrown, and they all speak after their own fashion to fundamental social processes shaping Texas-Mexican society. As Pe#65533;a persuasively argues, they represent a transforming cultural economy and its effects on Texas-Mexicans.
Pe#65533;a traces the history of m#65533;sica tejana from the fandangos and bailes of the nineteenth century through the canci#65533;n ranchera and the politically informed corrido to the most recent forms of Tejano music. In the beginning, he argues, musicmaking was a function of "use-value"--its symbolic power linked to the social processes of which it was an organic part. As m#65533;sica tejana was swept into the commercial market, it added a second, less culturally grounded dimension--"exchange-value"--whereby it came
under the culturally weakening influence of the commercial market. Since the 1940s, the music has oscillated between the extremes of use- and exchange-value, though it has never lost its power to speak to issues of identity, difference, and social change.
M#65533;sica Tejana thus gives not only a detailed overview of m#65533;sica tejana but also analyzes the social and economic implications of the music. The breadth, depth, and clarity with which Pe#65533;a has treated this subject make this a most useful text for those interested in ethnomusicology, folklore, ethnic studies, and Mexican American culture.