music of Louisiana Creoles like the bluesand jazz, rock and reggae often
called Zydeco is the result of a typically American
experience that combined European, Native American, and Afro- Caribbean
musical tradition. Nothing quite like them developed in Europe where direct
contact with African culture was uncommon and interesting.
America, both European and African cultures were far from home, on new ground.
Settlers learned some old ways from each other and made up lots
of new ways for themselves as they carved out a new world on the
frontier. Among the most important influences in this new blend was percussion.
This new music was hard-driving, polyrhythmic dance music. This
critical African tradition may also have been reinforced by an overlap with
Native American drumming. In any case, it survived to provide a beat for zydeco
and Cajun music, as well as for rock, rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, hip hop,
and other black-influenced American music styles. Zydeco, zarico, zodico, zordico,
and even zologo represent a few of the spellings used by folklorists, ethnomusicologists,
record producers, and filmmakers, as well as
dance hall owners and fans, to transcribe
the word performers use to describe Louisiana's Creole French music. The word
Creole, which originally meant simply "native or homegrown, not imported,"
served, among other things; to distinguish African slaves from the more valuable
In South Louisiana, where the French language is an important
cultural identity maker, French-speaking blacks often called themselves Creoles
noirs (Black Creoles) or Creoles de couleur (Creoles of color), Creoles Francais
(French Creoles) to distinguish
themselves from French-speaking whites, who might be either Creoles Francais
(French Creoles) or Cadiens (Cajuns), as well as from English-speaking blacks,
who are called negres americains (American Negroes).
Native Louisiana Creoles explain
that the word comes from les haricots because of the expression, "Les
haricots son pas sales" ("The beans aren't salty"), a phrase
often heard in traditional songs. The spelling of zydeco was the first one
to appear in print