Louisiana State Musical Instrument

"Cajun" accordion

"Cajun" accordion

(diatonic accordion)

Adopted in 1990

Louisiana's official musical instrument, the diatonic accordion, commonly known as the "Cajun" accordion, was adopted in 1990.

Although the Chinese invented basic reed instruments, it is generally accepted that the Germans, in about the 1830's successfully developed accordions with brass reeds. The diatonic accordion with a single row of reeds and buttons was the very first accordion developed, then later this built up to a single row of buttons with four rows of reeds, in three octaves. These then are particular type of diatonic accordions called melodeons which are keyed like harmonicas.

Louisiana State Musical Instrument:
"Cajun" accordion

The melodeons began to arrive in Louisiana via German immigrants during the mid 1870's and were slow to become utilized by Acadians (Cajuns) because they were in keys in which fiddlers had difficulty returning or finding the notes. But when the C and D keyed melodeons came along and because they could be heard across the dance floor (with no electricity then, fiddlers could not always be heard across a noisy dance floor) by 1910 to 1920, a happy marriage with fiddlers occurred.

Then after WW II Cajuns could not obtain these melodeons because all (except one) accordion factories in Germany ended up within the East German state behind the Communist wall.

So Cajuns, because of a love of music and a sharp dance beat which these melodeons can produce, began to make copies of the German models themselves. We now have scores of builders in South Louisiana who build the very best melodeons in the world.

Louisiana Law

The law designating the diatonic accordion known as the "cajun" accordion as the official Louisiana state musical instrument is found in the Louisiana Statutes, Title 49, Section RS 49:155.3

TITLE 49 - State administration
RS 49:155.3 - State musical instrument

Universal Citation: LA Rev Stat § 49:155.3

§155.3. State musical instrument

There shall be an official state musical instrument. The official state musical instrument shall be the diatonic accordion, commonly known as the "cajun" accordion. Its use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.

Acts 1990, No. 185, §1.

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