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Cajun BreakdownThe Emergence of an American Made Music$
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Ryan André Brasseaux

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195343069

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195343069.001.0001

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A Heterogeneous Tradition

A Heterogeneous Tradition

(p.73) 3 A Heterogeneous Tradition
Cajun Breakdown

Ryan André Brasseaux

Oxford University Press

Bayou Country’s musical terrain and the cultural and historical undercurrents that expanded the genre’s repertoire, stylistic range, and instrumental conventions are outlined in this chapter. Three factors encouraged heterogeneity in the Louisiana’s musical traditions: a musical network that stimulated exchange between musicians, thereby diversifying Louisiana’s soundscape; the historical idiosyncrasies and ethnic variation shaping cultural production in rural enclaves; and the tension between traditional and innovative tendencies within the genre. Residual colonial song structures performed by guitarist Blind Uncle Gaspard, Dennis McGee’s enigmatic fiddling that crossed stylistic and racial boundaries, the friction between conservative and progressive inclinations in regional Cajun popular culture, as performed by Leo Soileau and Moïse Robin, and Cajun readings of American popular culture as interpreted by accordionists Lawrence Walker and Nathan Abshire are used as points of departure in this discussion of heterogeneous musical expression on 78 rpm record.

Keywords:   Cajun music, traditional music, Dennis McGee, fiddle, western swing, jazz, phonograph, gramophone, shellac, recording studio, New France, Evangeline

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