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It may be confusing to the uninitiated that the Spanish word Conjunto translates as "group," because not every band with the word "conjunto" in their name actually performs in the specific musical style also known as conjunto. Genuine conjunto is a small-group dance music, driven by accordion and bajo sexto, and is actually native to Texas and northern Mexico. Outside of Texas, conjunto music is generally referred to as "la musica norteña," or simply norteño, with the only real differences being location and the preference of conjunto for the ranchera song form over the corrido; conjunto is also very similar to Tejano music, except that its sensibility is more rural and traditional than modern or urban. In addition to being primarily dance-oriented, conjunto has also had a historical role as the music of the working classes, its celebratory exuberance and often tough, rowdy lyrical themes setting it apart. The standard conjunto ensemble features an accordion (usually a simple diatonic model), bajo sexto (a baritone-range twelve-string guitar), bass, and drums, along with one or two expressive vocalists. This format solidified around the 1950s, but its roots date back to the late 1800s, when the Mexican population in the area was introduced to the accordion and to various European folk dances -- polkas, waltzes, redovas, mazurkas, schottisches -- by German and Czech immigrants living in southern Texas.
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