© 2019

French Louisiana Music and Its Patrons

The Popularization and Transformation of a Regional Sound


About this book


French Louisiana music emerged from the bayous and prairies of Southwest Louisiana in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Pioneered by impoverished Acadian and Afro-Caribbean settlers, the sound is marked by a high-pitched fiddle playing loud and fast above the bellow of a diatonic accordion. With lyrics about disaster and heartache sung cheerfully in a French dialect, the effect is dissonant and haunting. French Louisiana music was largely ignored in mainstream music culture, except by a handful of collectors, scholars, and commercial promoters who sought to popularize it. From the first recordings in the 1920s to the transformation of the genre by the 1970s, the spread of this regional sound was driven by local, national, and international elites who saw the music’s traditions and performers in the context of larger social, political, and cultural developments, including the folk revival and the civil rights and ethnic revival movements. Patricia Peknik illuminates how the music’s history and meaning were interpreted by a variety of actors who brought the genre onto a national and global stage, revealing the many interests at work in the popularization of a regional music.


Southwest Louisiana Music Cajun and Creole Culture Franco-American culture the Americanization movement American music history Southern history American Folklore Folk music revival Francophonie movement French Louisiana musicians Civil Rights movement National identity Southern folkways race relations in the American south African American culture Harry Smith Ralph Rinzler

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Berklee College of MusicBoston, MAUSA

About the authors

Patricia Peknik is Associate Professor of History at Berklee College of Music, USA.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title French Louisiana Music and Its Patrons
  • Book Subtitle The Popularization and Transformation of a Regional Sound
  • Authors Patricia Peknik
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-97423-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-07354-1
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-97424-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages X, 223
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics US History
    Cultural History
    Social History
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