Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I had a nice chat with Tim Twiss today; we want to explore new ideas with the Friday Night Post series of comparing and sharing arrangement ideas. He had suggested going back to the early playbills for tune ideas, and I suggested the 1851 Gumbo Chaff tutor. As we know, it doesn't really illustrate period stroke style, but it does give the melody of popular period banjo tunes. It would be interesting and good practice to arrange the tunes in stroke-style.

These tunes wouldn't be the awkward fiddle tunes, they would our own arrangements of singin' tunes.

This is such an under-utilized resource (perhaps deservedly so ;^} ), but perhaps we could make lemonade out of it.

Anyone have a copy of Gumbo Chaff's banjo tutor?

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I'll try to make a little time in the coming week to do a tune or two. I've been grotesquely busy. Hope you all are doing well.
Is it this one?

"The Ethiopian glee book. By Gumbo Chaff, A.M.A., first banjo player to the King of Congo [pseud.]"
Boston, O. Ditson [1850-
I believe it's called Gumbo Chaff's Complete Preceptor for the Banjo, 1851

I think what you have, Tim, is a minstrel song book.

Which would all be very good to look at. I just got a hankerin' to work from the Gumbo Chaff preceptor.

The latest Weidlich book has a chapter on arranging tunes this way.

Tim Twiss said:
Is it this one?

"The Ethiopian glee book. By Gumbo Chaff, A.M.A., first banjo player to the King of Congo [pseud.]"
Boston, O. Ditson [1850-
"I believe it's called Gumbo Chaff's Complete Preceptor for the Banjo, 1851."

I have Elias Howe's (i.e. Gumbo Chaff's) Complete Preceptor (blah blah blah) for the Accordeon (Boston, 1843), which contains a handful of "Ethiopian" tunes, among many others. I showed it to Greg and Dr. Bob during AEBG2, but only at the hotel, I think. Lessee... Old Zip Coon, Coal Black Rose, Miss Lucy Long, Such a Getting Up Stairs... does Old Dan Tucker count? There may be several others -- since I'm just looking at titles, and the lyrics aren't in this book.

Dick Hulan
Why don't you pick one and post it up?
There must be something that hasn't been covered yet.
I posted the page with "Off She Goes," from the Howe [Chaff] Accordeon Preceptor, in the Photos section. Haven't figured out how to incorporate a photo into a Forum posting.

Dick Hulan
razyn said:
I posted the page with "Off She Goes," from the Howe [Chaff] Accordeon Preceptor, in the Photos section. Haven't figured out how to incorporate a photo into a Forum posting.

Dick Hulan

Same tune as Ryan's Fiddle, except the obvious key change to D which we would do for the banjo anyway. Slight rhythm variation in B section.

More proof of the impact of early fiddle music.
In that regard, Gumbo Chaff had also issued specifically "Ethiopian" tutors for the violin and the flute, as well as The Ethiopian Glee Book, in four-part vocal harmony "Arranged for Quartette Clubs," before his list of titles began to be published by Oliver Ditson in about 1850. I happened upon this information in a note from the AAS about my old friend Art Schrader. I had worked with him a little in identifying the authors of religious texts, found anonymously on early 19th century broadsides he was cataloging for the AAS, about 30 years ago. Anyway, check out the caption under the upper picture in this notice about his collection:

http://www.americanantiquarian.org/acquisitions200504.htm

Dick Hulan
Can't seem to let this rest, I know... but I was looking at the AAS online catalog, because in Gura and Bollman, America's Instrument, p. 266, note 55 says the AAS has a "unique copy" of an 1848 imprint of this banjo tutor. But it ain't in their catalog.

However, these are:

The Ethiopian flute instructor : containing full and complete instructions, with all the popular Negro melodies of the day, including those of the Christy Minstrels, by Gumbo Chaff, A.M.A. Author of The Ethiopian Glee Book, Ethiopian Accordeon Instructor, Ethiopian Violin Instructor, &c., &c. (Boston: Elias Howe, 1848) 48 p.

The Ethiopian violin instructor, : containing full and complete instructions, with all the popular Negro melodies of the day, including those of the Christy Minstrels. / by Gumbo Chaff, A.M.A. author of the Ethiopian glee book, Ethiopian accordeon Instructor, Ethiopian flute Instructor, &c., &c. (Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1850) 48 p.

I might add that Howe's Preceptor for the Accordeon (1843) that I have is older than, but different from, his Ethiopian accordeon instructor. It only has about five clearly "Ethiopian" tunes in its 40 pages.

Dick Hulan
I just visited the music library at work on my lunch break and looked at a copy of the 1851 "Complete Preceptor for the Banjo." It is only 16 pages long. I would have made a copy of it, but the original was too fragile and somebody was on the microfilm machine with a scanner. It is comprised of hits played by Christy's Minstrels, so most everything seemed to be familiar territory.

The microfilm reel also had a copy of the "Abridged edition of Howe’s new American banjo school : with new and complete rules and exercises and all necessary instructions to perfect the player in the art of playing the banjo without a master : together with a large collection of popular music" by Elias Howe.
Published : Boston : Russell and Tolman, c1859. This one is 39 pages. I'll copy the index of songs.

The next item on the reel was George C. Dobson's "Dobson Brothers’ modern method for the banjo"
Published : Boston, White, Smith & Perry, [1871]. I'll copy the index for that one too the next time I actually get to take a lunch break.

Just may have to learn to read music yet, as there are a few tunes in these books that I would like to learn that I can't find the tab for yet.

--Brian
Brian Welch said:
I just... looked at a copy of the 1851 "Complete Preceptor for the Banjo." It is only 16 pages long.

And I just received in the mail an appalling, but very comprehensive, Gumbo Chaff collection -- his Ethiopian Glee Book (1849). I'll post a couple of scans. This is perhaps the least PC work I have personally seen in print... and I lived in Mississippi, 1954-63. The works of the White Citizens' Council during that era were positively respectful, by comparison. Anyway, if y'all want the words and music, there are a LOT of songs in this. Fully harmonized. I believe at least one of these arrangements ("The Fine Old Color'd Gentleman") may be heard on the Early Minstrel Show CD, produced some years ago by our Dr. Bob.

Dick Hulan
Attachments:
Your EGB Index jpg shows "The Gal with the blue dress on" page 56. Most of us probably play Briggs' version of that tune "De Gal Wid De Blue Dress On". Does the EGB version have lyrics?

Thanks,
Chris Ownby

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