|Stylistic origins||French Antilles cadence or compas music|
|Cultural origins||Mid 1980s, Guadeloupe and Martinique|
|Typical instruments||Traditional: rhythm section: bèlè, makè and boula drums, tibwa, rattle chacha, brass section, two synthesizers, guitar, bass guitar. Contemporary:
Zouk-love use synthesisers and drum machines especially.
|Cabo-Love - Zouk-lambada - Zouk-R&B - Kizomba|
|Music of Martinique|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||La Marseillaise|
The inspiration for Zouk's style of rhythmic music comes from the Haitian compas, as well as music called cadence-lypso - Dominica cadence popularized by Grammacks and Exile One.  Elements of tambour and tibwa are sometimes prominent in zouk love. The French Creole tongue of Martinique and Guadeloupe is an important element, and are a distinctive part of the music. Generally, zouk is based around star singers, with little attention given to instrumentalists, and is based almost entirely around studio recordings.
The Haitian cadence or compas music has been dominating the Antilles music scene since its introduction in the late 50's. During the 1970s Antillean and Dominican musicians became important players in the style with solid bands such as La Perfecta, Exile One, Grammacks, Simon Jurade, etc.
In 1969, Gordon Henderson decided that the French Overseas Department of Guadeloupe had everything he needed to begin a career in Creole music. Gordon Henderson joined forces with the famous cadence band called the Vikings of Guadeloupe. The Vikings are considered the precursors of Kassav' whose co-founder Pierre Edouard Decimus was a member of the group. Gordon recorded a few songs with Les Vikings which became instant hits in countries beyond the usual market such as Surinam and Holland. At some point he felt that he should start his own group and asked a former school friend Fitzroy Williams to recruit a few Dominicans to complete those he had already selected. The group was named Exile One.
In the late 1960s, the Dominican band Exile One, settled in Guadeloupe due to the lack of recording studios back home. In the early 1970s, Exile One called its repertoire cadence-lypso featuring the Trinidadian calypso and mostly Haitian compas/cadence rampa, however, most of the bands repertoire was kadans. Cadence-lypso or the Dominica kadans quickly became popular in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti and other islands in the Caribbean; France, Latin America and Africa. Exile One is the pioneering group of the genre, other important groups include Les Aiglons, Grammacks, Midnight Groovers and Liquid Ice. The Dominican band Exile One led by the talented Gordon Henderson introduced a full-horn section and synthesizers to their music that other young cadence or compas bands from Haiti (mini-jazz) and the French Antilles emulated in the 1970s and 1980s. Exile One was the most promoted creole band of the Caribbean. The first to sign a production contract with a major label call Barclay Records. The first to export kadans music to the four corners of the globe: Japan, the Indian Ocean, Africa, North America, Europe, The Cape Verde islands.
In 1978, Pierre Edouard Decimus relocated in Paris after a successful career in the French Antilles. Pierre Edouard Decimus was on the verge of retirement from the music business until he and his brother Georges Decimus met fellow Guadeloupean Jacob Desvarieux, a popular guitarist/songwriter kwown in Paris as a studio wizard. The surroundings of the Paris music recording technology gave him the idea of making "just one more record". Subsequently, Pierre Edouard Decimus, his brother, and Jacob Desvarieux pulled together a team of Paris-based Antilles musicians and created a group named Kassav' and a new sound called zouk. The original Kassav' was all Guadeloupean but was later joined by Martiniquans Jean-Claude Naimro, Claude Vamur, Jean-Phillipe Marthely, Jocelyn Berouard and Guadeloupean Patrick St-Eloi . Kassav' created its own style by introducing an eleven-piece gwo ka unit and two lead singers, tambour, ti bwa, biguine, cadence-lypso: calypso and mostly cadence or compas with full use of the MIDI technology. Originally, Kassav' style had a certain political dimension. Their famous song "zouk-la se sel medikaman nou ni" implied that zouk constituted a banner for the cultural unity of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Kassav created the fast zouk style but remains mostly a great compas music band.
In Jocelyn Guilbault’s seminal book on the subject, “Zouk: World Music in the West Indies,” she states that “Zouk is the creation of black, Creole-speaking Antillean artists,” and puts forth the theory that it is the product of the struggle to form some kind of national identity among the four islands, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, and St. Lucia. All four share a similar colonial past, having been under both French and English rule at various points in their history, and are populated predominantly by blacks, who are the descendants of African slaves.
Zouk Love is the French Antilles cadence or compas music, characterized by a slow, soft and sexual rhythm. It had its origin in a slow tempo form of cadence sung by Ophelia Marie of Dominica. The lyrics of the songs often speak of love and sentimental problems.
Patrick Saint Eloi is a profound artist. He is the author of hits like "Darling", "West Indies", "Rev An Mwen" and "zouk". Played in duet with Jocelyne Béroard "Pabizwen palé. Jean-Philippe Marthely is also behind songs such as "Pretty Kreate", "Pazapa" and "Lanmou sé pa Djendjene. But it was Jocelyne Béroard with her song "Kolé Séré" sung with Philippe Lavil (gold) that allowed the whole of France to discover her music.
Zouk-love or the French Antilles compas styles
Kizomba is one of the most popular genres of dance and music originating from Angola in the late 80's. It is a mix of traditional Angolan semba and zouk music from the French Caribbean sung generally in Portuguese. Although Kizomba was not originally a fusion of semba and zouk, presently arose a version of kizomba influenced by zouk, and is wrongly being popularized as kizomba, as the name given to this version is "Kizouk" or "kizombalove". This zouk influenced of kizomba (or vice versa) is actually becoming very popular throughout the world.
An alternative of zouk influenced by the American R&B is call Zouk-R&B. It is a mixture of contemporary R&B and zouk love. This trend has taken birth in Paris with French Antilles artists such as Slaï, Thierry Cham, Jane Fostin, Ali Angel, Medhy costs, Nichols, Kimberlite Zouk, Warren, Marvin, Kaysha, Elizio, Teeya, Soumia, Linsha and etc. Jean-Michel Rotin is the precursor of Zouk R&B (also known as Zouk RNB, Zouk R'NB) or "américanisé" with their song "Le Ou Lov", "Sof will," "Stop", "Cigaret", "Chut j'taime" "Mwen'm not," "And I love her" and "Ella". This trend has been made popular with the French public due to the success of Slaï, Thierry Cham, Medhy Custos, Les Déesses, and Pearl Lama.
The musical style cabo-love originating from the Cape Verde islands is a derivative of zouk mixed with other Cape verdian rhythms. In some cases there has been a fusion of the zouk love with the coladeira, to which several names have been given, such as cola-dance, cola-zouk, cabo-swing, cabo-love, etc. However, in other cases the performance is practically a zouk copy. In this variant, the rhythm has the same accentuation as the compas, the instrumentation is also copied from the zouk, the accentuation of the melody line is different, the syncopation is made in other contexts and the melody line is less continuous than the traditional coladeira, with breaks.
Compas nouvelle génération
In the early 2000, several of the compas nouvelle génération bands such as Carimi, T-vice, Top vice, and Zeglen toured the French Antilles as usual with success. The singer Vro with Softcore and many other Antillean artists started experimenting zouk with this light compas style, which is more popular in France and the Caribbean. Cabo Verdean, Caribbean and African artists usually feature one another via compas songs. Popular artists includes artists like Jacky Rapon in song like "Mi Amor", Ludo in song like "Weekend", Jackito in song like "Je l'aime a mourir" and Priscillia in song like "Dis le moi", Ali Angel in song like "Zouk Bordel 2003", and Iron in song like "Mr DJ" .
There are multiple ways to dance to zouk music:
- Zouk Love (Traditional way)
- French Caribbean way (Antilles/Haiti).
- French-speaking Africa way.
- Zouk-Lambada style. A fusion of French Caribbean zouk love and Brazilian styles danced to zouk rhythmic music.
- Angolan Kizomba, and Cape Verdean cola-zouk dance style. Are all derivatives of zouk or compas music.
Zouk in Brazil
In Brazil, the zouk rhythm is used to dance a Brazilian dancing style, however, with movements more suited to the music. The Lambada is usually very fast and frantic. Unlike that, the zouk in Brazil is often slow and sensual, enabling many steps and turns.
Rio-style Zouk (also called Carioca Lambada meaning Rio-style Lambada), was first developed in Rio de Janeiro. It is mainly danced in Brazil (Rio and Brasília), Australia, The Netherlands, Spain and some other European countries. It uses a modified, slower, smoother, even more sensual version of the lambada and is typically danced on zouk style music. In the Netherlands this dance style goes under the name of zouk love.
- Manuel, Peter (2001). "Indo-Caribbean Music". Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. New York and London: Garland Publishing. pp. 918–918. ISBN 0-8240-6040-7.
- Jocelyne Guilbault. www.Haitianobserver.com. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- Jocelyne Guilbault. Haitian+Kompa++the+development+of+zouk+love&source. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- Adebayo Oyebade. Culture and customs of Angola. p. 156.