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New Mexico music

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New Mexico music is a genre of music that originated in New Mexico, United States, it derives from the Puebloan music in the 13th century, and its further development during the 16th to 19th centuries in Santa Fe de Nuevo México. The music went through several changes during pre-statehood, mostly during the developments of Western. After statehood, New Mexico music became a folk music for the native New Mexicans, mostly with the Pueblo, Navajo, Apache, Neomexicanos, and the descendants of the American frontier. And, during the 1950s and 1960s New Mexico music entered popular music in the state, with artists like Al Hurricane and Freddie Brown.[1][2]

The sound of New Mexico music is distinguished by its steady drum and guitar rhythm, accompanied by instruments common in Pueblo music, Western, Norteño, Apache music, Country, Ranchera, and Navajo music.

The language of the vocals in New Mexico music is usually Spanish and New Mexican Spanish; American and New Mexican English; Spanglish; Tiwa; Hopi; Zuni; Navajo; and/or Southern Athabaskan languages.

Outside of New Mexico, nationally and internationally, New Mexico music is classified under several different genres, including, World, Country, Latin, Reggae, and Folk. In Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah it is sometimes placed as a subgenre of Latin music, this is especially true in Arizona, Southern Colorado, and the Oklahoma panhandle. And, in Mexico and Texas, it is sometimes classified as Norteño or Ranchera.


  • Origins 1
  • Songs and albums 2
  • Artists 3
    • List of New Mexico musicians 3.1
  • References 4


The musical history of New Mexico goes back to pre-colonial times. But, the sounds that define New Mexico music begin particularly with the ancient Anasazi, some of their music is thought to have survived in the traditional songs of the Pueblo people, with wind instruments such as the Anasazi flute, as well as the chants and drum beats of the Navajo and Apache.[3][4]

When the Spanish founded Santa Fe de Nuevo México they brought with them the Spanish guitar, and Mexico brought with it the traditions of Mariachi, and Ranchera. Those traditions include Mexican Son music, Corrido, Duranguense, and Banda.[5]

After New Mexico became a territory, the people of the American frontier brought the traditions of Country music and Cajun music. This was when the first forms of New Mexico music began to be played, Western was an adaption of Country and Cajun, accompanied by traditionally Mexican and Native American instruments.

Once New Mexico became a state the music was sung at fiestas and in homes as traditional folk music, and during the 1950s and 1960s it became a form of popular music.[6] In the 1970s, KANW began playing Spanish language New Mexico music.[7]

Songs and albums

Smithsonian Folkways has captured traditional New Mexico music, in the following albums; Spanish and Mexican Folk Music of New Mexico (1952),[8] Spanish Folk Songs of New Mexico (1957),[9] Music of New Mexico: Native American Traditions (1992),[10] and Music of New Mexico: Hispanic Traditions (1992).[11] These albums feature recordings of songs like "Himno del Pueblo de las Montañas de la Sangre de Cristo" (lit. "Hymn of the Pueblo of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains") as performed by Cleofis Vigil and "Pecos Polka" as performed by Gregorio Ruiz and Henry Ortiz, "It's Your Fault That You're Looking for Your Horses All Night" as performed by The Turtle Mountain Singers, "Entriega de Novios" as performed by Felix Ortega, "Welcome Home" by Sharon Burch, as well as other classic New Mexico folk songs. The albums also include takes on other New Mexico folk musics by multiple New Mexico musicians ranging from Al Hurricane and Al Hurricane, Jr. -to- Sharon Burch.

There have been other artists, of varying genres, that have released albums containing elements of New Mexico music. Country artist Michael Martin Murphey released an album titled Land of Enchantment, tracks such as "Land of the Navajo" and "Land of Enchantment" made use of various instruments typically found in New Mexico music.


Though there have been several artists that have contributed to New Mexico music, the most widely appreciated contributions are those by Al Hurricane ("The Godfather" of New Mexico music), Freddie Brown, Roberto Griego, and Robert Mirabal.

List of New Mexico musicians


  1. ^ Federal Writers' Project, New Mexico: A Guide to the Colorful State, US History Publishers, pp. 8–,  
  2. ^ Mary Jane Walker (2008), Family Music and Family Bands in New Mexico Music, ProQuest,  
  3. ^ Kip Lornell (29 May 2012), Exploring American Folk Music: Ethnic, Grassroots, and Regional Traditions in the United States, Univ. Press of Mississippi, pp. 245–,  
  4. ^ Esther Grisham; Mira Bartok; Christine Ronan (May 1996), The Navajo, Good Year Books,  
  5. ^ Hispano Folk Music of the Rio Grande Del Norte, UNM Press, 1999,  
  6. ^ Mary Caroline Montaño (1 January 2001), Tradiciones Nuevomexicanas: Hispano Arts and Culture of New Mexico, UNM Press,  
  7. ^ "New Mexico Spanish Music". KANW. November 14, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Spanish and Mexican Folk Music of New Mexico". Smithsonian Folkways. January 1, 1952. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Spanish Folk Songs of New Mexico". Smithsonian Folkways. January 1, 1957. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Music of New Mexico: Native American Traditions". Smithsonian Folkways. May 21, 1992. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Music of New Mexico: Hispanic Traditions". Smithsonian Folkways. May 21, 1992. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
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