Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bajo Sextos - Tex-Mex Musical Instrument

The Spanish words for "sixth bass" are Bajo Sextos. It is the name for a special type of musical instrument popular in a relatively small geographical area. The twelve string guitar is a strong component of musical groups formed and prevalent in the area of northern Mexico and southern Texas. It comes in both acoustic and electric forms.

The guitar-like instrument has twelve strings. They are arranged in six double courses. The strings are tuned from the lowest string to the highest string to the notes E, A, D, G, C and F respectively.

From the mid 1950s northern Mexican music has been listened to and enjoyed by Mexicans and Anglos alike. The music goes by several different names, musica mexicana-tejana and conjunto are the most common. The music genre is also known as Tex-Mex, but this is not totally accurate, since the nortena music predated conjunto.

The sound of the musical sixth instrument provides the rhythm in the low tones in the musical groups known as conjunto bands. The guitar sound combined with the bass also is able to project chord changes throughout the songs. This instrument provides the rhythmic accompaniment line in other musical ensembles, but is perhaps not as well known outside the conjunto music genre.

Because the music is found in a relatively limited geographical area, there is not as much demand for this instrument as some of the other stringed instruments. The available inventory includes beautiful and carefully crafted instruments in several different types of wood. The back of some of the quality designs include cedar, mahogany or Indian rosewood. The tops are constructed of cedar. The fingerboard and bridge is made of rosewood. Other more exotic woods are also used in some instruments.

Some instruments are thinner in order to provide more comfort while playing, but all are beautifully finished. Decorative elements carry out the Mexican motif. Many of these guitars are handcrafted for the highest quality in sound and finish. The best makers are recognized for their completed instruments and to own one of their products is to mark one as a serious devotee of the music genre.

For the serious performer who wants to be part of a quality group playing nortena music, the bajo sextos is almost a must. It is needed to provide a lower component to the melody and to move the chord changes along during the piece. The best made instruments are attractive to look at without being flashy and provide a sound that is unparalleled.

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