Cover image for Banda : Mexican musical life across borders
Banda : Mexican musical life across borders
Simonett, Helena.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Middletown, Conn. : Wesleyan University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xii, 372 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML3485.7.S56 S55 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Runner-up for the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) - US Chapter Book Award. (2002)

Banda music has been performed by traditional brass bands in rural northwestern Mexico for more than a century, while technobanda, a newer style that has replaced the brass instruments with synthesizers and electric instruments, has become part of a lifestyle for tens of thousands of young people in the US, particularly in Los Angeles. The young people who flock to technobanda concerts also insist on the use of the Spanish language, a particular etiquette on the dance floor and above all, a specific style of dress: cowboy/cowgirl apparel and belt buckles emblazoned with the name of their home Mexican state.

In this engaging and insightful ethnography, Helena Simonett brings us inside the music and its culture. Her discussions of narco-trafficking and narco-corridos ballads reveal the interconnected roles of musical, commercial and criminal networks, and illuminate how and why musical and social issues become so interconnected for banda artists and audiences. In this richly contextualized analysis of a singularly important contemporary musical style, Simonett sheds new light on how expressive culture both generates and reflects intersecting social identities.

Author Notes

Helena Simonett teaches music history and literature at The Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

A genre of music featuring brass instruments and a heavy beat, banda was birthed by Mexican military bands in the 19th century. Today, it is alive and well in the form of electrobanda, which features a vocalist, synthesizers, and modern production involving dance. In this extensive ethnomusicological overview, Simonett (music history and literature, Vanderbilt Univ.) aims to legitimize banda and its offshoots as bona fide expressions of identity for the multitudes of people who share cultural allegiance with Mexico and the United States. She starts with the electrobanda phenomenon of the 1990s, then looks back at its origins and forward to an evaluation of the lasting influence of the music. Because this was written in an academic setting, it has a somewhat scholarly tone and will probably not appeal to general fans. But for anyone who is interested in Mexican music and especially the lot of Mexican Americans at the end of the 20th century, it will prove to be very rewarding. There are virtually no books on this subject, so it stands as a pioneering effort. Recommended for music libraries with a Latin American slant and large public libraries with a Mexican American clientele. Bill Walker, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
I The Technobanda Craze in Los Angeles: Popular Music and the Politics of Identity
A New Sound in "Nuevo L.A."
The Quebradita Dance Craze
Technobanda and the Politics of Identity
II A Social History of Banda Music: From Rural/Local/Traditional to Urban/Transregional/Commercial
The Sociohistorical Roots of Banda Music
Music in the Center, Music on the Periphery
Tradition: Sedimentation and Innovation
III The Transnational Dimension of Banda Music: Narco Subculture and Contemporary Influences
The Music of Transnational Subculture
Another Sound in "Nuevo L.A."
Technoband's Lasting Influence
Appendix: Dancers' Voices
Selected Bibliography
Selected Discography