Subscribe to this audio series:
In 1920s rural Louisiana, ten cents granted admission to hours of rollicking music at a "La La" house party. La La party music‚ characterized by the use of accordions, fiddles, triangles, and washboards or rub-boards called frottoirs‚ formed the basis of zydeco. The French-speaking Creoles of southwest Louisiana added elements of blues and jazz to the party mix. The result was zydeco, a musical style dominated by the accordion, frottoir, and heavy syncopation (a rhythmic technique of shifting accents to weak beats).
Accordion player and singer Clifton Chenier was credited with naming this musical genre. After a long history of hits like "Zydeco Sont pas Sale," Chenier was dubbed the "King of Zydeco."
Zydeco is often linked with Cajun music, but it has a harder, faster sound and employs more electric instruments. In dance halls today, elements of soul, disco, rap, and reggae can be heard among the rhythms of the frottoir.