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Texas Sounds from Smithsonian Folkways

Texas, which means “friends of allies” in Caddo (a language from the Native American tribe of the same name), is the second largest state in the United States. This state is largely know for its cattle industry, and more broadly cowboy culture and traditions, including its version of country music. Country is characterized by an emotive and highly ornamented singing style and instrumental accompaniment that relies heavily on small ensembles of stringed instruments, and a form that is related to the folk ballads that were brought by Irish and Scottish immigrants. Songs are typically about love and death. The three main instruments associated with country are the fiddle, the banjo, and the guitar. Texas is also known for the blues, which spread to Texas by the beginning of the twentieth century by African American workers at lumber camps, oil fields and other work areas. When the Great Depression hit, these musicians moved into the cities and created what is now known as the Texas Blues. Another significant music style in Texas is Tejano music, which fuses German Polka, Mexican rancheras, jazz, and other unique sounds. Listen to Smithsonian Folkways’ sample of Texas and its diverse music scene.