Zydeco Music Definition

By | April 11, 2021


Originally known as ‘la-la music’, zydeco came out of the homes of Creole communities in southwest Louisiana. Creole in this case refers to Spanish, Portuguese, African, Caribbean and French descendants who lived in this area. Louisiana was part of the territory that was originally under Spanish and French control before it became part of the United States.


The word zydeco is an expression derived from the French ‘les haricots’. There is a saying ‘les haricots sont pas sal u0026 # xE9 ;,’ which means ‘the snapbeans are not salted’. Traditionally, this phrase refers to a time when things were so tough that people could not even afford to season their beans with salt.


What makes zydeco so different from Creole music is the introduction of the accordion. The harmony is one of the most prominent instruments in zydeco music along with violin, washboard, guitar, drums and bass.


Zydeco music underwent several changes in the 20s. Blues, Cajun music, R&B and Caribbean music have all influenced the sound of zydeco music.

King of Zydeco

Clifton Chenier is considered the father of zydeco. He recorded his first album in 1954 and took the music to the mainstream by mixing traditional zydeco with other popular music styles. In 1984 he won a Grammy Award for his album ‘I’m Here! ‘Chenier is also credited with inventing the frottoir, a washboard-type instrument that hangs over the shoulders of the chest and for first using a piano playing instead of the diatonic accordion, which was more traditionally used for zydeco.


Zydeco music has always been a social music that was intended to be danced to. According to the King of Zydeco, ‘If you can not dance to zydeco, you can not dance, period. ‘Zydeco music came from southwestern Louisiana in the early 20th century from descendants of generations of Creole music. Traditionally sung in French and dominated by the accordion, the music has a strong rhythmic beat that is meant to be danced to.