Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

One of our members has asked how do I go about creating a period banjo part for a tune. This is a great question, and I don't have a pat answer.

First, I think spending a lot of time in the banjo instructors is essential. This gives you insight into the period style of playing. Be sure to search all of the instructors for some of the songs you are intersted in. One of the most useful indexes for this is in The Early Minstrel Banjo book by Weidlich. Also look in some of the books on the banjo clubhouse.

Next, go to the sheet music sites, and see if you can download the published piano score. This can give you a sense of the feel of the piece.

You can always ask the opinion of people here on this site about specific songs. It might be fun to take a few songs and see how different people would handle them. Any suggestions out there?

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Yes, concert pitch is not important. I assume most will create arrangement with one sharp, but who knows? This will be part of the fun....interpreting something.
What I really like about this song is that the lyrics are hysterically funny, if you know anything about canals. They normally would go over someone's head today. It gives a good excuse to talk about the history of the canals, and to talk about how times have changed.
Great lyrics --should be fun to do.

Though it looks like it is in F major (by the key signature), it is really in F minor --rife with modal borrowings, as we would say in the music theory classroom...

Strangely, this could mean that either the composer was somewhat unaware of the conventions of notation, or conversely (no pun intended), that he was aware of contemporary trends in the newer music being produced in Europe (Schubert etc.)

Or it could mean neither...
I would bet that the animation of the presentation is what really brought the humor out in this song.
Is anybody else making any progress with this?
I was debating whether to score out or record what I'm presently playing. In some ways recording might be easier. I've made some changes, so I can play the melody, or accompany my singing. When I sing the piece I play more simply.
Here is what I have been doing with this. I've been playing in Brigg's tuning, and notched the song up a step. I could have stepped the tuning down if I needed to play in F, and I have also been playing in F with Brigg's tuning, but that renders the thumb string to be only slightly useful.
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Hey, alright John!
Okay, here's my contribution. I did a "Briggs" type version, as I thought a popular vocal tune of the time might have been adapted to a banjo arrangement.
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Tim, that is very Briggs. Well done!
Hey, is anybody else gonna join in on this one?
I must confess to being slightly under-whelmed by the melody of "The Raging Canal."

I'd love it if someone chose another piece like the "Bell Jig" for us to compare and contrast. That was fun.

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