Music Styles

Music Styles to Hear in New Orleans

From French Quarter Fest to Jazz Fest, Frenchmen Street to Preservation Hall, music is an integral part of New Orleans culture. As the birthplace of jazz, it only makes sense that New Orleans is home to many distinct musical styles ranging from the modern to the traditional. With so many cultures melded together, musical influences and instruments from around the world, from Congo drumming to European horns, have come together to create unique new sounds that could only have come from New Orleans.

BRASS BAND

The instruments: trumpet, trombone, drums, saxophone, sousaphone, tuba

The Sound: A mix of a classic, European-style military music infused with funky, African influence, brass can easily slip from traditional jazz standards to Michael Jackson in no time flat. You're likely to see locals break into "buck jumpin", a style of dance with bouncy, intricate footwork. It's harder than it looks, but lot's of fun to practice!

RAGTIME

The Instruments: piano, sometimes accompanied by brass instruments

The Sound: With its jingly piano and springy rhythm, this lively music may evoke mental images of old-time saloons.

DIXIE LAND/TRADITIONAL JAZZ

The Instruments: trumpet, trombone, clarinet, tuba, guitar, banjo, upright bass, drums

The Sound: Considered the first form of jazz music, this genre combines ragtime and brass band marches with the free spirited component of improvisation.

CAJUN MUSIC

The Instruments: fiddles, accordion, triangle, guitars, keyboard

The Sound: With a basic rhythm and staccato-style notes, this dance music lends itself to waltzes and two-steps and is commonly heard at festivals and dance halls across southwest Louisiana.

ZYDECO

The Instruments: fiddles, accordion, rub board, bass guitar, drums

The Sound: This folksy, American-roots genre originated in southwest Louisiana. It's a fast paced dance music where in rural areas the lyrics are still sung in Creole French.

GYPSY JAZZ

The Instruments: violin, acoustic guitar, clarinet, accordion, bass, brass

The Sound: This distinct genre has a lilting feeling, which comes from a special form of rhythmic guitar strumming called "la pompe". You're most likely to hear this style of music on the streets of New Orleans - especially on Royal, Decatur and Frenchmen Street.

BOUNCE

The instruments:  synthesizers, drum machines

The Sound: This fast paced, upbeat form of New Orleans hip hop is characterized by call and response, Mardi Gras Indian music and dance call outs.