Culture, Music and Plantations Louisiana
Cajun and zydeco music
When for his Great disturbance, the Cajuns could not take with them the instruments which they played in Canada. Only a few violins survived the trip.
Despite the lack of accessories, music survived thanks to traditional songs, the lullabies, to the religious hymns sung a cappella, and also thanks to balls organized in private homes.
With time, Cajun music has been enriched by various musical cultures : German, Anglo-Saxon, Spanish, Amerindian, black (from whom she notably borrowed vocal improvisation and percussion). The Acadians composed songs embellished by these different influences, relating their new living environment.
The violin was therefore the one and only instrument. But, a few years later, the triangle and the jaw harp mingled in the round. Then it was the turn of theaccordion, who stole the show from the violin.
Thanks to cultural exchanges and mainly to African influences, we mixed songs and instruments in almost all styles of Cajun music (ballads, rounds, two-steps, country dances ...). Eventually, salon meetings were abandoned, and town halls specially designed for celebrations and banquets were built. The first recording of Cajun music (Joseph Falcon and his wife) was not made until 1928.
After World War II, Cajun harmony mingled with blues, Au rhythm'n'blues, country and even at the drunk to give birth to music in the early 1950s zydeco.
We mainly identify two styles of zydeco : that of the countryside and that of the city. The first is played unplugged, the second plugged, that is to say, helped by the Electricity fairy. One finds there, for one, the violin, the accordion, the guitar, the triangle and the drums (from time to time); and for the other, we forget the violin which we replace by brass and piano.
Living music, zydeco is also available in zydeco-rap, zydeco-reggae, zydeco-rock...
Plantations in Louisiana
Beyond the fact of seeing pretty shacks, the visit of the plantations turns out to be interesting, from the perspective that it allows us to bear on the social system of the time, on the way of life of the bourgeoisie and these characters quickly enriched. Visits which also say a lot about the difficulty of a part of today's society to face the past, so much the memory of slavery, yet inseparable from the history of plantations, is often carefully killed.
Architecturally, we discover a incredible variety of styles. Because no, not all plantations are alike, hence our advice to visit several. Depending on whether they were built before or after the takeover of Louisiana by the United States (1803), according to the personalities and the origin of the families who led them, or even according to the way in which they were preserved or restored, the homes are very different. These vast estates are above all the reflection of a mixture of French, Spanish, Senegalese and Indian cultures. Nowhere else in the southern United States will you find such diversity and architectural expression.
From colonial house to Greek revival
The first French and Spanish settlers had established their plantations near Indian villages, along the Mississippi, on the highest and most fertile lands. Colonial architecture at this time was heavily imbued with African techniques and know-how, for the simple reason that these residences were built of wood by slaves who had brought with them their traditions.
In Africa, as in Louisiana, it made good sense to build a raised cellar and live on the 1st floor to ensure better ventilation and shelter from floods. We will also find a system of exterior galleries creating refreshing air currents and acting as screens, to provide the apartments with a little shade. Architecture was directly linked to climatic conditions.After 1803, when the Anglo-Americans arrived, fashion changed, and architects were brought in from England. We start to build majestic buildings in the style Greek neo-Renaissance (Greek revival) and typically Victorian. We transform the old colonial houses by adding a large and pompous triangular pediment, supported by Greek temple-style columns, and many other ornaments characteristic of Antiquity.
Quite close, the Georgian style takes up the idea of columns but decorates the building with a peristyle.
In a related genre, the Gothic revival covers buildings with pinions and pinions of all kinds. It is rather pretty.
Le federal style is more stripped down, the facade is simple and the roof decorated with a balustrade.
Typically, the plantation of the Anglo-American period has a large central entrance hall, and the ground floor becomes a place of residence and reception, and no longer a cellar as before.
Most boxes of slave quarters have been destroyed today, only a few very rare plantations have preserved them to this day.
Sugar cane, tobacco and indigo were and typically still are the predominant cultures in southern Louisiana. The cotton preferably located in central or northern state.
Each plantation had access to Mississippi to be able to load or unload various goods, the river being the safest means of transport at the time.
However, from the 1850s, the railway made its appearance, and we begin to transport the crops by train, behind the plantations where each farm had its own station.
For almost 2 centuries, some families established fortunes, creating a kind ofaristocracy. We consider the 1830s as the most prosperous and corresponding to a real economic boom. It was also at this time that, thanks to a modernization of techniques due to theindustrialization, profitability is increasing.
However, after the Civil War, the golden age of plantations quickly came to an end when slavery is abolished, that the workforce is dispersed ... and that it ceases to be free. The former slaves are then granted huts and plots of land, without gaining in emancipation or economic equality, segregation taking over from slavery. However, the new economic system, the political crisis and the change of society sound the death knell for an old world.
From decline to ruin
The banks of the Mississippi then change very quickly, industries in the 1930s help change the landscape forever, and many of these great mansions are falling apart.
Those that remain are worth seeing, because they bring back a way of life, an economic system based on forced labor and values that fortunately belong to the past but which also explain the present of present-day Louisiana.