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Cajun music

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Cajun music

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Cajun music, an emblematic music of Louisiana, is rooted in the ballads of the French-speaking Catholics of Canada. Cajun music is often mentioned in tandem with the Creole-based, Cajun-influenced Zydeco form, both of Acadiana origin. These French Louisiana sounds have influenced American popular music for many decades, especially country music, and have influenced pop culture through mass media, such as television commercials.



The unaccompanied ballad was the earliest form of Cajun music. The narrative songs often had passionate themes of death, solitude or ill-fated love a reaction to their harsh exile and rough frontier experience, as well as celebrations of love and humorous tales. Ballads were ritually sung at weddings and funerals, and sung informally for small groups of people at house parties as the food cooked and young children played.

Standard versions of songs started to emerge starting in the late 1920s with increasing sales of phonographs. Early song lyrics were entirely in old Cajun French. Though French language is still common, some Cajun music today is sung in English with younger singers and audiences.


In earlier years the fiddle was the predominant instrument. Usually two fiddles were common, one playing the melody while the other provided the segoner, or back-up part. Twin fiddling traditions represent the music in its purest form, as it was brought to Louisiana with the early immigrants and before popular American tunes mingled with it.

Gradually the diatonic accordion emerged to share the limelight. The introduction of the accordion can be traced back to German settlers, who are more typically identified with eastern and central Texas. Though they were concentrated in Texas, many settled as far east as New Orleans, that path taking them directly through Acadiana.

In the early 1930s, the accordion was pushed into the background by the popular string sounds of the time. Mandolins, pianos and banjos joined fiddles to create a jazzy swing beat strongly influenced by Western Swing of neighboring Texas. After World War II, the accordion regained its popularity in Cajun music.

The acoustic guitar was added, mostly as a rhythm instrument, and the triangle provided a traditional percussion. Modern groups sometimes include drums, electric bass, electric guitars and amplified accordion and fiddles.

Dance and festivals

Cajun music, born from ballads, has transformed to dance music -- with or without words. The music was essential for small get-togethers on the front porch, an all night house dance known as a "bal de maison", or a public dance in a dance hall called a fais do-dos.

There are several variations of Cajun dance: a Cajun One Step, also called a Cajun Jig, a Cajun Two Step or related Cajun Jitterbug, and a Cajun Waltz. In mild contrast, Zydeco is a syncopated two-step or jitterbug. A Cajun dancer will cover the dance floor while the Zydeco dancer will primarily dance in a smaller area.

Cajun music can be found predominately at Lousiana festivals and dance halls, in addition to weddings in Acadiana.

External links

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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