Cajun/Zydeco. These two styles go hand in hand in the New Orleans, Louisiana, USA area… a place with an extremely deep cultural heritage, that is considered the birthplace of Jazz, and today is most famous for it’s food and music… especially at Mardi Gras time!
Cajun is the more traditional folk music counterpart of the styles from this area. I’ve heard it called swamp music more than a few times. I personally like that. It usually features acoustic instruments like fiddle, washboard, and squeeze box or button accordion, and sounds much more rural, though still dance music. Harmonically it tends to be rather murky with majors and minors being mixed at will… much like the swamp it comes from!
Zydeco is where the modern Rock n Roll instruments like drum sets, electric guitars, and saxophones were added. This style is quite varied with some bands sounding more traditional Cajun and others sounding like modern Funk bands… just with an accordion as the lead instrument! Each artist puts their own unique stamp to it.
Historically, New Orleans was a strong destination for the thousands of immigrants that came to the United States in the later 1800’s and into the early and mid 1900’s. It is the terminus of the mighty Mississippi river, and a very busy shipping port that provided livelihoods for many.
Culturally, it was “ground zero” for the “melting pot” that America once was and possibly still is. The French brought their food and Waltzes, the Germans their accordions, the Irish added fiddling to the mix, Jamacian’s their drumming, and Mexican’s their trumpets and guitars… even the food is a mixture of many elements too! I’m told that the word Cajun has melded historically from the European Acadian’s that came first to Nova Scotia and migrated south, and is also linked to the name “Can-adian!”
I hope you enjoy these tunes and this is style as much as I have grown to love them!
As usual… questions or comments?… just use the form below!
For Further study, here’s an auto generated list of every FJi lesson that has any relation to Cajun-Zydeco!