Definitions of Zydeco on the Web:
Popular music of southern Louisiana that combines French dance melodies, elements of Caribbean music, and the blues, played by small groups featuring the guitar, the accordion, and a washboard.
[From Louisiana French, possibly alteration of Les haricots (sont pas salé), name of a song, pl. of French haricot, bean. See haricot1.]
of dance music from southwestern
zydeco (zī'dĭkō') , American musical form originating among the African-American Creoles of Louisiana. Drawing on elements of traditional Cajun music as well as jazz, country and western, and blues, it is characterized by French lyrics, Creole flavor, and strong dance rhythms. The most important and traditional instrument used in performing zydeco is the piano accordion. Other instruments often included in a zydeco band are the guitar, electric bass, saxophone, drums, and “rubboard” (washboard). Among the genre's better known performers are Clifton Chenier (1925–87), zydeco's best-known musician; Wilson Anthony “Boozoo” Chavis; Rockin' Sidney; Buckwheat Zydeco; and Queen Ida Lewis.
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The noun zydeco has one meaning:
#1: music of southern
Zydeco musicians playing accordion and washboard in front of store, near New Iberia, Louisiana (1938).
Little, except briefly in 1950s and mid-1980s
Zydeco is a form of folk music,
originated in the beginning of the 20th century among the Francophone Creole
peoples of south-west Louisiana and influenced by the music of the French-speaking Cajuns. It is
usually fast-tempo, and dominated by the button or piano accordion and a
form of a washboard
known as a rub-board or frottoir. Originating in Africa,
the vest frottoir was introduced to
Zydeco's rural beginnings and the prevailing economic conditions at its inception are reflected in the song titles, lyrics, and bluesy vocals. The music arose as a synthesis of traditional Cajun music with African-American traditions that also underpinned R&B and blues. It was known as "la-la"; "zodico" and various other names. Amédé Ardoin made the first recordings of what later became known as zydeco in 1928.
The music was brought to the fringes of the American mainstream in the mid-1950s, with the popularity of Clifton Chenier and Boozoo Chavis. In 1954, Boozoo Chavis recorded "Paper in My Shoe". This is considered to be the first modern zydeco recording, though the term "zydeco" was not in use yet (see 1954 in music). After Chavis left the music business, Clifton Chenier became the first major zydeco star and also led to the invention of the word zydeco in 1965. One of his hits was "Les Haricots Sont Pas Salés" (The Snap Beans Aren't Salty — a reference to the singer being too poor to afford salt pork to season the beans) and he said that "Zydeco" was a corruption of les haricots (French for the beans). This may have been his little joke as the term (along with variants such as "zodico") was used earlier to refer to African dance-forms.
In the mid-1980s, Rockin' Sidney briefly re-popularized zydeco music nationwide with hit remake of the classic tune "My Toot Toot". This led to the resurgence of Zydeco artists, and spawned a new crop of innovators. Young zydeco musicians, such as and Rosie Ledet began emerging in the early 1990s. Chris Ardoin, Beau Jocque, , and Zydeco Force added a new twist to traditional Zydeco by tying the whole sound to the bass drum rhythm to accentuate or syncopate the backbeat even more. This style is sometimes called "double clutching."
Zydeco as a dance style has it's roots in a form of folk dance that corresponds to the heavily syncopated Zydeco music, originated in the beginning of the 20th century among the Francophone Creole peoples of Acadiana (south-west Louisiana). It is a partner dance that has been primarily danced socially and sometimes in performances.
The follower usually mirrors the steps of the leader however in some figures the steps may be completely different, allowing for self-expression and improvisation. Because of the very lively music, the overall style is small sidewise steps with relatively steady upper body and no hip swinging, wiggling or jumping. There are exceptions to this rule, but feel of the zydeco is very real and consistant. Zydeco dance can be described as the opposite of Swing or Ballroom since the direction or feel of the dance is down, not up like Swing or Ballroom.
The Basic Step in Zydeco takes 8 beats and consists of two mirrored parts 4 beats each. The step pattern is often memorized as "SPSS SPSS", "S" is for "step", "P" is for pause. In the most basic form, there are no steps at all, only weight shifting from one foot to another. The leader starts with weight on his right ("R") foot, the left ("L") one is without weight about one foot sideways. (The right foot of both partners points between the feet of the opposite partner, knees are slightly bent ("softened").) On count "1" the leader transfers his weight on the left foot, followed by pause, then the weight is transferred on the right foot and back on the left one. The same repeats in the opposite direction: right-pause-left-right. Sometimes this step pattern is memorized as "LLRL RRLR", indicating the standing foot for each beat of the music.
After mastering the basic rhythm, one may replace simple weight transfers by very small steps to shuffle in place or just a little sideways or the couple may rotate in either direction, usually in the clockwise direction.
Finally, the lively Zydeco music with its accented 2nd (and 6th) beats will force you to do something rather than simply "pause" on counts 2 and 6. Usual "fill-ins" are kicks, toe or heel taps, flicks, brush, etc. with the free (unweighted) foot or a little twist on the weighted foot. These actions are commonly known as "eat-a-beat".