FREE Online Lessons:
Lesson #1 - "Zydeco Extravaganza"
Lesson #2 - Tablature
Lesson #2b - Breakdowns
Lesson #3 - Accordion Basics
Playing the Bass Side
Zydeco Lesson DVD: $39.95
* Video Instruction - Song #1: Why You Wanna Make Me Cry
* Video Instruction - Song #2: You Stole My Chicken
* Breakdowns - Breakdowns or the bridge as it is ofen called in Zydeco you will
hear in many Zydeco songs and the lesson DVD covers 8 different patterns to mix and match to your choosing
* Tablature of all songs are included
* Bonus off until the end of May..... "MotorDude Zydeco Special"... (just finished recording the instruction and will include it with the lesson DVD)
(after clicking "Buy Now" below, click the "Pay with credit card" link at bottom of web page)
Paid Online Lessons: $19.95 (streaming video)
"Why You Wanna Make Me Cry"
"They Stole My Chicken"
Free Lesson #1 - Zydeco Extravaganza (Play Song)
Zydeco Extravaganza was created by Zydeco Force with Jeffery Broussard from their 1992 "Shaggy Dog Two Step" CD. Jeffery Broussard plays now with his band Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys. As with any Zydeco song there are various ways to play and embelish the melody. The videos below cover one basic version of this song but if you combine it with intermediate embellishments such as a breakdown this can push it into the intermediate or advanced level.
1. Review the tablature of the song shown below to practice moving between the notes. This can be as helpful or easier than watching the video clips at first.
2. Watch and play along with the video clips below for the very slow, slow and medium tempos.
3. It's important to know how the melody goes so listen to the song if you own it or if not you can purchase the track. (you don't need to play the track as fast as the original). The dancers actually seem to like this track a little slower from my experience..
4. Watch the song played live from myself at slower tempo or medium-fast or faster version by clicking here. (Remember you don't need to play it this fast and many dancers don't like it to fast anyway...
5. Sing the words to the song listed in the tablature below. If you search for this song on youtube you an also play along with others and practice singing along once you get up to speed...
Practice Videos: Very Slow, Slow and Medium Tempos
Tablature: Click here for informaiton on how to read this accordion tablature)
The intermediate way of playing this song is to do a "Breakdown" in the middle.
If you email me I can send you an unlisted video clip to how to easily
encorporate this into the song..
Breakdowns or the "turn" is a technique used in many zydeco tunes to add a little great variation to the melody. Basically the melody and lyrics are used for the first part of the song and then the turn or breakdown is played for a few measures and then the artist goes back into the melody again and then finishes the tune.
There are many variations that you can use and once you get comfortable playing you may find you can start making up some great variations of your own. The following clip has a quick demo and then a slowed down version to see what buttons are pushed.
Drum Beat Tempos for Practice:
100 BPM - Double Kick
120 BPM - Double Kick
140 BPM - Double Kick
160 BPM - Double Kick
Tablature is just a written breakdown of which notes to play in sequence for any specific song.
Since tablature can be very helpful all of the lessons on this web site will include tablature.
For example, a basic version of Zydeco Force's, "Zydeco Extravaganza" tablature is shown below.
In the example below the 6' means you hold down the sixth button from the top and pull the bellows. The numbers with out the apostrophe are pushes so for example the 4 shown over the 5 listed below, you would hold down buttons 4 & 5 and push the bellows together. The pushes are also sometimes shown with a circle around the number. Watch the video to see how this looks.
If you see a BC, BB or BBT, this is telling you to play the base side of the accordion with the two buttons as opposed to the treble side with the 10 buttons. BT is the top or "chord" button. BB is the bottom button and BBT is playing both buttons at the same time.
Each Zydeco artist who plays Zydeco songs put their own signature/embelishments on the song so the tablature listed below is just one basic way of playing this tune.
Timing is everything is Zydeco so the tablature does not give you the feel of the music. You need to listen to the song over and over again to understand the timing.
As listed below there are many good websites and resources covering the basics of the single row accordion. The Zydeco accordion style is played a little differently compared to Cajun style which you will experience as you learn a few songs.
The other main difference is the bass side is played differently. Diatonic accordions are tuned to either wet or dry during the manufacture process Zydeco style accordions are tuned wet as the video clip below also covers. Please see the playing the bass side lesson for details on this area.
- Basics of Zydeco Accordion:
Websites and other resources:
- How Zydeco/Cajun accordions are made
- Wet tuning of the accordion for Zydeco
- Diatonic button accordion from Wikipedia
- Big Nick's Overview of the Cajun accordion
- Specific Wikipedia on the Cajun accordion
As your holding the accordion in front of you on the left side you have the bass button on the bottom and a chord button on the top. For basic Zydeco lessons at first you don't need to learn this side but I will note on the tablature some options when the bass side could be played. In Zydeco typically you will only use this to embellish the melody and not play the bass and chord buttons all the time compared to playing the bass side in Cajun style songs.
Below is a video clip showing the Zydeco style of playing the bass side of the accordion. Note that the bass and chord buttons are used to accent the melody played and are not played in an alternating pattern as they often are for Cajun music.
Here is a good example of how the accordion is played for Cajun style music. When you play the video clip below note the alternating pressing of the bass and chord button through out the whole melody. This alternating style of playing the bass buttons is more often seen in jam session type of environments when there is not a bass player or drummer playing
There are other resources out there but here are just a few of the good resources already on the web for the single row accordion.
1. BigNick Music Theory: Good document on music theory.
2. Brett Thibodeaux Music Theory info: A good reference for scales, finding and building chords
3. Ganey Arsement's introduction Video