Difference Between Zydeco and Cajun Music (With Table)

In the capital of New Orleans, Zydeco and Cajun music grew together yet in separate directions. In the Louisiana region of “New France”, creole culture established many musical movements, although they may seem indistinguishable to outsiders. But they are very different from each other as Zydeco and Cajun music. 

Zydeco and cajun music are popular styles of music. However, Zydeco is often considered an offshoot of Cajun Music. They seem similar, yet they are different in many aspects. 

Zydeco vs Cajun Music 

The main difference between Zydeco and Cajun music is that Zydeco emerged from Southwestern Louisiana, while cajun music originated from Nova Scotia. In addition to that, Zydeco has a repetitive rhythm. On the other hand, cajun Music has repetitive notes. The accordion is not diatonic in Zydeco, meanwhile, Cajun’s accordion is generally diatonic. Lastly, When there is a comparison, Zydeco is compared to pop music, while cajun music to waltz or jazz. 

Zydeco has emerged from somewhere in southwestern Louisiana. Rather than Cajun’s Music, it has a constant returning rhythm, and the accordion is not diatonic. Moreover, several musical instruments with it, such as washboard and wind instruments. And the comparison is made to pop music as it was influenced by rhythm and blues styles of the Black Creole and jazz music themes. 

Cajun Music has evolved by the non-black Acadian successor from Nova Scotia. As Zydeco was influenced by pop, however, Cajun was influenced by country music. The notes are repeated in the music, thereby producing high-spirited music. Moreover, accordion and fiddle are used in this and sometimes metallic triangle instrument. Also, it is similar to waltz or jazz music. 

Comparison Table Between Zydeco and Cajun Music

Parameters of comparisonZydecoCajun Music
RepetitionZydeco has a repetitive rhythm. Cajun Music has repetitive notes. 
OriginZydeco is originated from somewhere in the southwestern region of Louisiana. Cajun Music is originated in Nova Scotia. 
SimilarityZydeco is similar to pop music Cajun Music is similar to jazz and waltz.
AccordionZydeco’s accordion is not diatonic. Cajun’s accordion is diatonic. 
Instruments In zydeco, usually, wind instruments, accordion, and fiddle are used. In cajun music, accordion and fiddle are used. 

What is Zydeco? 

Somewhere in southwestern Louisiana, Zydeco has emerged, and it was immensely influenced by rhythm and blues styles of the Black Creole and jazz music themes. 

Zydeco is also known as the music of Louisiana “Creoles of colour”. However, it is distinguished as a separate type of music, but the defining elements are somewhat similar to cajun music. 

Coming to the origination of Zydeco, the roots of Zydeco are in Jure that is a form of hand-clapping and foot-stomping used to pray and give thanks.

Over time, in the 20th century, there was a shift in the significance of music. It became more secular. And the major reason behind the evolution of music was the influence of American Blues music, thereby developing in amplification. 

Furthermore, due to development in amplification, the music got new ‘urban’ popularity as it can be performed in larger dance halls.

The perfect example of a modern zydeco player was Clifton Chenier and his music was a perfect combination of fiddle, accordion, and washboard, with a backing rock’n’roll section. 

Zydeco’s basis has importance on call-and-response songcraft. Thus, it was deeply rooted in African music. Moreover, it incorporates an upbeat tempo that makes it easier to dance with several modern dance forms. Dancing associated with Zydeco music is passionate and sexy and emerging as ‘the new salsa’. 

The accordion used by Zydeco players is usually a button accordion or piano accordion. Mostly, it is not diatonic. Lastly, It is often compared to pop music.

What is Cajun Music? 

Cajun Music is originated from the non-black Acadian from Nova Scotia. In contrast to Zydeco, Cajun Music was influenced by country music. 

The early cajun music had a mix of small and lightweight music instruments, such as the fiddle. The fraternization of blacks and whites in the deep south somewhat helped in the cajun culture establishment. 

Early Cajun Music has an influence on Haitian and Jamaican folk reflecting the harsh experience through the music, although it evolved. But, it incorporated black spiritual music with suitable instruments. 

With the development, cajun music evolved too. Cajun Music was blended with country and western music, thereby involving more basses and guitars in cajun music. 

Therefore, it was impacted by Anglo-Americanism. In return, cajun music evolved as well. 

For a period, the accordion was disappeared due to less production. However, it came into effect and dominated cajun music. 

The most common instruments in Cajun music were the accordion and fiddle. Moreover, the notes are repeated thereby giving high spirit music in the cajun music. As for the comparison of cajun music, it was rather compared with country music and waltz. And the accordion used is diatonic. 

Main Differences Between Zydeco and Cajun Music

The Creole culture established several kinds of music. The two most popular type of music around the capital of New Orleans was Zydeco and Cajun Music. They seem pretty similar, although they are very different from each other ranging from origination to basics. However, Zydeco is distinguished as a subdivision of Cajun music. But, it has its features and basics. 

  1. Zydeco has a repetitive rhythm, whereas Cajun Music has repetitive notes in music. 
  2. Zydeco is originated from Southwestern Louisiana. Meanwhile, Cajun Music is originated from Nova Scotia.
  3. For comparison, Zydeco is compared to pop music. On the other hand, Cajun Music is compared to waltz and jazz.
  4. Zydeco’s accordion is not diatonic. Meanwhile, Canjun’s accordion is diatonic. 
  5. In Zydeco, wind instruments, washboard, and accordion are used. While, In Cajun music, accordion and fiddle are used, and sometimes metal triangle is used. 

Conclusion 

In the region of Louisiana of ‘New France’, the two music styles grew together in that region yet are different from each other. Around the capital of New Orleans, it was developed. The most popular type of music in that region was zydeco and cajun music. 

Although Zydeco is considered an offshoot of Cajun Music, yet it has its unique features. 

Zydeco has a constant repetitive rhythm and originated somewhere in the region of southwestern Louisiana. The accordion used is diatonic. Moreover, while comparison, zydeco is compared to pop music due to the influence of rhythm and blues styles of the Black Creole and jazz music themes. Lastly, Washboard, accordion, and wind instruments are mostly used in zydeco. 

Cajun music has repetitive notes to make it high spirit music and was originated by a non-black Acadian in Nova Scotia. The accordion used is diatonic. Moreover, It often compared to jazz and waltz as it was influenced by country music. Lastly, usually, accordion and fiddle are used in cajun music. 

References 

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/537555
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LWcDN4U7_kAC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=Zydeco+and+Cajun+music&ots=nPNpm1Tkn-&sig=Rwa1l0dCtIZgk9Q1Z4ObxOXIyEc
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