School of Music


Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)


George McDow


Texas, Music, Accordion, Mexican, German, Empathy


Ethnomusicology | History | Music


German and Mexican music have a shared musical ancestry due to immigrants interacting since the late 1800s in central Texas. Comparing these genres reveals both commonalities and distinctions regarding style, orchestration, and thematic material. The differences between the genres create cultural boundaries reflecting nationalism that sometimes reinforces racial tension, while the commonalities are opportunities for empathy and open-mindedness through the globalization that occurs from shared musical experiences. While the historical connections between Germans and Mexicans in Central Texas are well-documented, the present-day status and effects of these connections have not been researched thoroughly. This project builds cultural profiles of both a present-day German polka and Mexican conjunto ensemble. The cultural profiles provide one example of how the historical connections of the music have changed or stayed the same. Beyond the musical considerations, these cultural profiles also reveal cultural boundaries in present day Central Texas that may contribute to or ease current ethnic tensions. The cumulative outcome of the project was a collaborative concert between the ensembles. This concert included an educational presentation of the historical and present-day connections between Mexican and German music. The concert called for empathy and open-mindedness as Central Texans of Mexican and German descent have an opportunity to identify similarities and celebrate differences as valued diversity. The shared musical experiences of the groups influenced both group members and community members who witnessed the concert, as well as those who learned about it later through reading this research.