Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

This is a recording by Charles D'Almaine, a professional stage violinist, in 1912. Except for the first tune all are published in Ryan's Mammoth collection (Howe 1883), I wonder if that is where he got them.


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That was interesting.  Hmmm.  I think I wanted to assume that through the years musicians kept playing things increasingly faster until it reached the fever pitch (er tempo) of bluegrass.  But this is over 100 years old and still too fast for my liking.  I don't know anything about D'Almaine, however, and it could be that as a stage violinist, he wasn't really attuned to dance tempo of the day....and frankly (though technically gifted) I didn't hear much of a beat that would make dancing easy.  What was your take, Wes?

I'd be happy playing those at half the speed. It may the way one would play for professional dancers, I remember playing for clogging teams that really liked to push the tempo, the audience seems to enjoy it.

True, but then the audience would like it if you stuck a tin whistle up your nose and played "Three Blind Mice". ;)

Two? In harmony?

Ha!  Next time I see the guy I was quoting, I'll suggest that!

That is an excellent reel tempo.  I think we have to consider thinking like dancers rather than a listening audience.  The stringing together of different pieces is also a common practice for dances.  This screams "dance." 

I listened again.  I suppose you're right, John, it's a good dance tempo once I get past all the stuff he's doing.  He just doesn't sound like a dance fiddler, to me.  Seems like his priority is fancy technical stuff rather than an easily danceable lilt.

love it. Thanks for sharing.

Kitty O'Neil is what got my attention here's another take on it:


The rest are written by Ryan as hornpipes, but if folks like a tune they're going to play them the way they want, and that's probably good thing to keep in mind when one is playing.

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