Lesson 3: Cajun/Creole Music

This week we go, as they say, “down on the bayou.” We’re going to Louisiana with is a fanatically and disproportionately musical part of the United States. This week we’re going to focus on two of the many musical genres that originated in Louisiana–Cajun and Creole. We’ll learn about the historical and musical differences between the two, and we’ll figure out where “zydeco” fits into the mix.


Right off the bat, an important point. Cajun music and Creole music are not the same thing! Sure, to the uninitiated the two genres may be hard to distinguish, and yes, nowadays many, if not most, popular New Orleans “traditional” bands play both, but we’re going to learn about the different historical origins and musical traits of each and acknowledge the fact that they are two distinct entities.

So then what is “zydeco…?” We’ll get into that too…..

CAJUN MUSIC: “How did a type of music that originated in chilly eastern Canada end up becoming one of most distinctive cultural elements of hot hot hot New Orleans…?”

CREOLE and ZYDEDO: Cajun, Crole and Zydeco musics twist, turn and dance into one another all around Louisiana.

FAIS DO DO: “A ‘fais do-do’ is an energetic ‘Cajun hoedown,’ a community event full of music, good folks and great food, that takes place on a Saturday evening at a public dancehall and may very well go all night….”

MARDI GRAS INDIANS: “Every year on “Super Sunday,” the Sunday nearest March 19th, several hundred African-Americans in New Orleans emerge from neighborhood clubhouses and parade through the streets wearing feathers….”

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