Lafayette may be home to more genres of music than just about anywhere, but our music is a manifestation of the region’s creolized soul rather than ends in themselves.
Lafayette’s music starts with the French language and evolved for movement.
The influence of traditional songs sung by African slaves and gens de couleur libres accompanied by the percussive rhythm of stomping feet and clapping hands led to “la la” music, fast-paced dance music featuring French lyrics.
The accordion, brought to the bayous and prairies by German shopkeepers, projected a huge sound from a little box full of embellishments and spirit. Like our music that accordion is sturdy, simple, and well-engineered.
The fiddle, carried here initially by Europeans with deep roots in African-American culture, not only collected and fused the melodies of the British Isles of Germany, France, and elsewhere, but it Americanized them by infusing them with the blues.
A simple percussive device rounds out the sound. In Cajun music, the tite-fers or triangle. In zydeco, the frottoir or rubboard. The purpose of both is urgency, immediacy, and movement.
If there is an overarching sound in the area's music, its core is these instruments. The character of their interaction and the shared language that allows musicians to communicate across barriers of age, race, and class.
Lafayette is more than a birthplace, and it is not exactly a capital. It remains something untamed, a song of marshes and prairies and muddy roads that is still too busy being born.