Zydeco is a music form originating in southwestern Louisiana among black creoles. The zydeco form is varied. There is no consensus on a monolithic form.


Some have theorize the term zydeco is a black creole term for sex. Others hold, it is a derivative french term zaricot for snap peas. Originally Zydeco was not referred to as the present term or spelling. Early terms for the Zydeco form was "la-la", "bazaar", and "pic-nic." Older practitioners of the music don't refer to it as Zydeco. In the 1930s the term "zordico", "zologo", "zotticoe" would refer to the form. Folklorist Mack McCormick transcribed the termed "zydeco" from pronounciations of his field work and published it in the music collection, A Treasury of Field Recordings. The spelling "zydeco" eventually caught on. 


Zydeco originated from Juré music. Juré was a black creole form with no instrumental accompaniment that comprise of hand clapping and foot stomping on top of which both sacred and secular lyrics would be sang. 

Clifton Chenier is the most influential artist in the development of Zydeco, King of Zydeco. The accordion was  added by Clifton Chenier. His new style of creole music was referred to as la-la, not zydeco, as it was later referred to. La-la was played with accordion or accordion plus washboard (frottoir). He would later add Blues and R&B elements to la-la. 

Clifton Chenier was instrumental in the proliferation of the music during the 1960s and 70s and cultivating a global audience.

In the 1980s, Zydeco was rediscovered. Queen Ida was prominent in its dispersal and rediscovery. In 1987, Clifton Chenier died. Rockin' Dopsie was then crown the new king of Zydeco. Other acts such as the Twisters and Buckwheat Zydeco help bring more prominence to the form.  


Two broad styles of the music have been observed: a style played in Louisiana and meant for dancing, and a more cosmopolitan style played by Queen Ida, Buckwheat, and Terran Simien that incorporates wider zydeco forms, R&B, Caribbean sounds, and blues, appealing to a wider audience.

Zydeco is played with a multi-row accordion and piano key accordion. It is accompanied by a washboard or rubboard (frottoir) worn on the chest and played with a spoon, sometimes with fiddle and harmonica. The washboard is embellished by drums and electronic instruments in the modern form.

Works Cited

Friedland, Ed(2004). Bass Grooves:develop your groove and play like the pros in any style. pp. 90-92 ISBN 0879307773, 9780879307776

Unterberger, Richie(1999). Music USA: the Rough Guide. Rough Guides pp. 180, 181. ,  ISBN 185828421X, 9781858284217

McConnachie, James(2000). World Music: the Rough Guide Volume 2. Rough Guide. pp 561-562. ISBN 1858286360, 9781858286365

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