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Author Topic: Origins of Cajun Music.  (Read 535 times)

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Henry Piper

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Origins of Cajun Music.
« on: February 18, 2017, 06:53:03 PM »

Like Many Melodeon (Accordian) players I enjoy listening to a Bit of Cajun, and have dabbled (fairly unsuccessfully !!) myself in attempting to play it.
 I have recently been wondering what were the original influences that gave rise to this genre, I personally have never seen much influence of French Traditional music in it, in fact it seems almost to have appeared fully formed in Louisiana during the late 19th and early 20th century, presumably it was originally more fiddle based, since I understand that the Arcadians arrived there before the German immigrants that brought  accordians with them, And I think I can hear some similarities with other American fiddle styles. Did the music only take on its current form once the accordians became available. Did these French speaking immigrants bring with them some fragments of old French music and song, that gradually "morphed" into what we would recognise as "Cajun"  or did they acquire the roots of this new music during their time in Canada before moving on to Louisiana. or is this a wholly new variety of music that originated and developed among the Cajun immigrants once they had arrived.
Its a fascinating story. I would love to hear a history of its development and origins from someone with more Knowledge than I have !!.
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John MacKenzie (Cugiok)

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2017, 07:02:57 PM »

Well when you listen to Quebec melodeon players, there's definitely a relation to the Cajun sound. Remember that Cajun is derived from Acadian, and Acadia is/was, the northern part of Maine, and New Brunswick. There has to be a connection.
Where the music originally came from, I assume France, is another matter, and one would need to establish a relation between musical styles, as they existed in France in days gone by.
It is, as you say an interesting subject, and one I have wondered about too. I like Cajun, and I also love Quebec fiddle music, played by people like the late jean Carignan. No doubt these tunes on the fiddle, are related to those played on the melodeon, around Quebec.
Good luck with the research

Sir John
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911377brian

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2017, 07:34:45 PM »

I bet Rees will know.
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baz parkes

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2017, 07:56:43 PM »

If your beans are well salted and you've left the potatoes alone this may help
https://www.amazon.co.uk/South-Louisiana-Music-Cajun-Bayous/dp/0882896083

probably best delivered at the back door... :|glug :|glug
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Rees

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2017, 08:22:24 PM »

This, from The Big Weekend website:

"Cajuns, les Cadiens or Les Acadiens, are descendants of the Acadian French from Acadia Canada, now settled in South West Louisiana.

Cajun music is the traditional music of the French settlers of south west Louisiana. The roots of this unique style can be traced back through the French Canadian traditions of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritimes, and further back to the original French pioneers who left Northern France many generations ago.
Over many years the traditional music has absorbed many other cultural styles into the mix, including Celtic, Spanish, and of course a huge influence from their Creole French neighbours.
The result is a unique and intense firey mix, played mainly on the Fiddle and the Accordion, highly emotive and irresistibly danceable!

Zydeco (French from the phrase “Les haricots ne sont pas sales” means “the snap beans aren’t salty” or “leh-zy-dee-co sohn pah salay..”
Zydeco music has its roots based in African Creole traditions; The Creole settlers in South West Louisiana also absorbed musical styles from many different cultures over the years including a huge influence from their Cajun neighbours.
Many of the songs and tunes are shared between the two cultures, the Creole Zydeco style however is rooted more in the African Rhythm & Blues tradition, but is always embracing modern styles such as funk and hip hop, always keeping the music alive and fresh, and of course always compellingly danceable.
Like Cajun music, Zydeco is very much Accordion led, also features the rub-board, a percussion instrument, based on the washboard, but worn like a vest over the chest and played with spoons or keys.
A totally irresistible and unique dance music, spicy hot with a generous dose of bump n grind!"
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Rees Wesson (accordion builder and mechanic)
Gungrog, Welshpool, Wales, UK
www.melodeons.com

Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2017, 09:03:32 PM »

Well now, I've learnt something!
Thanks Rees
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Henry Piper

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2017, 09:18:32 PM »

Rees, many thanks for the "Potted History" much of which I already knew,......some I did not !.   you say that the roots of Cajun music can be traced  "further back to the original French Pioneers who left Northern France many generations ago!",  Certainly the Cajun People can trace their origins back to these days, but can the music show the same historical connections? I,m no Ethnomusicologist but I can see very little if any similarities to French traditional music or song, Can you hear similarities ??  I can certainly get some similarities with Quebecois music and the Music generally of the Maritime provinces of Canada, and Cajun music has certainly picked up influences from many places on its journey to Louisiana. As I said I am not an expert,  But sometimes I feel that the "French" origins of the Genre are overstated and that its origins may lie very much in "Acadia" itself !!
As I said in my earlier post its a fascinating subject.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2017, 09:37:48 PM by Henry Piper »
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From Ottery St Mary Devon. Playing Dino Baffetti BP2 in D/G, Beaver Brand 2 row in Bb/Eb, Converted Hohner Student P.A now 2 row in  D/G,  one row 4 voice no stops, made from several old cheap Cajun boxes !!, Made from scratch two row in G/C

Rees

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2017, 11:10:28 AM »

These days there is very little trace of the original French songs in mainstream Cajun, but if you dig around in the archives you will find many examples of tunes such as quadrilles and contredanses being played, also many unaccompanied songs.
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Rees Wesson (accordion builder and mechanic)
Gungrog, Welshpool, Wales, UK
www.melodeons.com

richard.fleming

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2017, 02:36:00 PM »

Bayou Boogie: the Americanization of Cajun
music, 1928-1950
Ryan Andre Brasseaux
Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, rbrass1@lsu.edu.

The above makes very interesting reading for Cajun fans, I think.

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Rees

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2017, 05:13:28 PM »

Also: Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People, Vol. 1 by Ann Savoy.
https://www.amazon.com/Cajun-Music-Reflection-People-Vol/dp/093016900X
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Rees Wesson (accordion builder and mechanic)
Gungrog, Welshpool, Wales, UK
www.melodeons.com

blafleur

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Re: Origins of Cajun Music.
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2017, 04:42:59 AM »

It's a bit more complicated.  There are no pat answers in anything Cajun, whether talking about the food or music or even the language, and labels don't work...even the labels Cajun and Creole.  What is now considered Cajun music is a melding of many different influences, and used to actually be regional in Louisiana before recordings spread the music to other areas after the 1920's.  Many popular "Cajun" songs are actually American folk songs, or songs brought to America from some other country/genre, and some Cajun heard it, Cajunized it with the accordion or Cajun fiddle style, and added some Cajun French lyrics, and poof, a new traditional Cajun song is born.  I doubt any of today's Cajun repertoire would have links to the old pre Louisiana Acadian music, which was all fiddle tunes or a capella. The accordion busting into the genre in the late 1800's caused many old fiddle tunes to fall by the wayside because of the limitations of the single row diatonic accordion.  The lineage of most older Cajun tunes cannot be traced, though they are often attributed to the first to record it, but that rarely is an indication of who wrote the song.
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