If you’re down on the bayou and you hear the sweet sound of music, there’s a good chance you may by hearing Zydeco! What exactly is Zydeco music? Let’s head to Louisiana to find out!

In the late 1700s, the ports of Louisiana were a melting pot that welcomed settlers from all over the world. Their combined musical heritages gave birth to a unique form of music. Cajun music developed from a mixture of French fiddle music, Irish Celtic fiddle music, German accordion music, Latin rhythms and Appalachian folk music.

In the 1860s, Zydeco was born by combining traditional Cajun music with two new American styles of music: blues and rhythm and blues. As Haitian immigrants came to Louisiana to help harvest sugar cane, they added their own unique Haitian rhythms to the style that would come to be known as Zydeco.

Zydeco is connected most closely to the rural Creole people of southwest Louisiana. The Creole people are descendants of the Haitian, Native American, French and Spanish immigrants who first settled the area.

The Creole people often sang in their own language known as Louisiana Creole French. Their unique “la la” party music evolved into Zydeco over time.

Zydeco music features many different instruments, including accordions, fiddles, triangles and especially washboards or rub-boards called frottoirs. Although similar to Cajun music, Zydeco has a harder, faster sound that features heavy syncopation, which is a rhythmic technique that shifts accents to weak beats.

Zydeco is kind of a funny name, isn’t it? It came about from mispronouncing the beginning of the French phrase: “Les haricots ne sont pas sales.” This phrase means “the snap beans aren’t salty”. People would use this slang expression to mean “I don’t have any spicy news for you.”

The words “les haricots” for “the snap beans” were pronounced as “Zydeco” in the regional dialect. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Singer and accordion player Clifton Chenier is known as the “King of Zydeco.” His bluesy style became popular on regional radio stations and helped Zydeco become popular across the United States.

Today, Zydeco music is still popular, and it continues to accept influence from other popular types of music, such as pop, soul and reggae. Zydeco is considered party music, because it is so lively and fun to dance to. The next time you have a party, consider playing some Zydeco music!

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    • Hello there, Wonder Girl! Thanks for visiting today’s Wonder and also for sharing what you think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about! We hope you have a WONDERful day! :-)

  1. No way, I’m the first one for my first time ever to write on the top!:-D So anyway, I really do love the music it makes me drum to the beat, plus, I never herd of Zydeco, and what other instruments can it play? :-)

    • Hi again, Carlos! Thanks for leaving us TWO WONDERful comments on TWO different Wonders today! We thought they both ROCKED! There are LOTS of other instruments used in the playing of Zydeco music! Accordions, fiddles, washboards, guitars…the list goes on! Let’s not forget about the amazing singers of Zydeco songs…their voices are instruments, too! :-)

    • Thank you so much for sharing about the WONDERful music of the “festival vallenato” in Columbia, onlinefreespanish! Those Wonder kids did an AMAZING job! We liked seeing their colorful clothing and hats, and listening to their mastery of their individual instruments! We loved learning about the “vallenato” music today! :-)

    • It’s pretty catchy, isn’t it, Lucas? We’re glad you enjoyed WONDERing about Zydeco music as much as we did today! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know what you thought about the video for today’s Wonder of the Day®, Rithik! We appreciate your comment and your opinion! We think the Muppets on Sesame Street are GREAT Zydeco musicians! :-)

  2. I learned that rub boards and washboards were called frottiors which was a wonder word. Zydeco is still popular music today. Zydeco features many different insruments.In the 1860s, Zydeco was born by combining traditional Cajun music with two new American styles of music: blues and rhythm.Can you listen to Zydeco music on the radio? I think the next wonder of the day will be a visit to a cold country.

    My favorite fact that I read today is that zydeco came from all around the world. The Louisiana people love party music, so they combined all of their music to form zydeco. It has a great beat.

    My friend and I like how all the music is mixed and how you can sing it however you want to.

    Zydeco is very strange. It uses many kinds of musical instraments. The music of Zydeco is EPICLY AWESOME!!!! It is so strange that rit is cool. I think tomorrow’s wonder is something chilly.

    We learned about the meaning of Zydeco and how the word came about. Zydeco has several heritages of types of music. Several types of instruments are used to perform Zydeco music.

    Our favorite fact was how Zydeco got its name. The French saying got mispronoused and became Zydeco because people just got in the habit of saying it that way. We were wondering, is Zydeco closer to jazz, rack and roll, or could it be both? Zydeco is all diferent cultures’ music combined with sometimes unusual instruments like a washboard, an accordion, and fiddles. we predict that the wonder of the day will be about spiders or ice.

    My favorite fact that I read today was that Zydeco was made by french blues and dance melodies from the Caribbean. Three additional facts that I learned were that the singer and accordion player, Clifton Chenier, was known as King of Zydeco, and I also learned that the name comes from missprounouncing the French word. I think the next wonder of the day will be something that is very creepy because it said that it will send a chill down my spine.

    • Hi Team Caisse! We’re so glad you enjoyed learning about Zydeco so much! It certainly is a special type of music with WONDERful history behind it! And those are WONDERful predictions for the next wonder! Thanks so much for WONDERing with us! :)

  3. My favorite fact about Zydeco music is that my mom got to hear it and to learn what it was. Zydeco is a mixture of many different types of music. Louisianna is such a melting pot for many different people. The name Zydeco came from the misprounciation of the French words “the snap beans”. I wonder where I can find Zydeco music? My prediction for the next Wonder of the Day is that there will be something scary in the book tomorrow.

    Learning about the different types of music developed from the combination of immigrants. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about a nervous person having a big day.

    A fun fact is “les haricots ne sont pas sales” means “the snap beans aren’t salty.” Their unique la la party music envolved into Zydeco. Clifton is know as the king of Zydeco. In 1860 Zydeco music was born.

    My 3 favorite facts are how Zydeco was made, who made it, why zydeco was born. My other favorite one is where zydeco was born!!!

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is Zydeco?
  • What instruments are used in Zydeco music?
  • What countries influenced Zydeco music?

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Ready to rock out to some Zydeco music? There’s no better way to get better acquainted with Zydeco music than listening to some. Check out the links below for some samples of live Zydeco music!

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Check out ArtsEdge’s Zydeco: Geno Delafoseaudio podcast to learn more about the roots of Zydeco music

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