When you hear zydeco music for the first time, it’s immediately apparent that this is something different. Nothing more accurately captures the sounds of the swamp or the joys of its people. It is a merging of blues music, R&B and indigenous creole and native music. An amplified accordion and scrub board are essential to its unique sound, with electric guitar, bass and drums rounding out the sound. The lyrics can be sung in English, Cajun French or a combination of both.
The Cajun accordion is played by compressing or expanding the bellows while simultaneously pressing keys or buttons to allow air flow which vibrates the reeds and creates notes. They were first brought to Acadiana in the 1890s, and by the 1900s had become a staple in Cajun and Creole music.
Perhaps the strangest instrument in every zydeco band’s repertoire is the scrub board. Also known as the frottoir, the instrument wraps around the musician’s shoulder and sits flush with the chest and stomach. The musician uses spoon handles or something similar to tap and scratch the metal, creating a percussion sound that is uniquely zydeco.
It is impossible to listen to zydeco music and not dance. Many local clubs exist to celebrate the unique genre and provide hours of dancing fun for locals and tourists. Zydeco dancing is a form of folk dancing that coincides with the syncopated beat of zydeco music. Zydeco music and dancing unite people of all ages and backgrounds with the infectious sound and fun moves.