Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

The only limit we have to playing these songs is our imagination. Notes are finite...but what you can do with them is not bound. I love hearing this music.

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As much as I would love to hear audio recordings of these songs as actually performed (not as we interpret/assume them to have been performed based on artifacts like the tutor books & other written accounts), I admit that part of me is glad that we don't have to deal with the endless "That's not how Earl Scruggs played it, so it's not right!" or "That's not how Tommy Jarrell played it, so it's not right!" arguments that sometimes preoccupy the Bluegrass and old-time communities.

Well, at least one person did it that way. That makes it authentic. 

We are all just playing this stuff.  Of course, we'll never know. The pursuit is fun, and so is just enjoying what we bring to this music in present day. I do take the written record, and the representation of this music over a large span of time and several different sources, to be SOMETHING that happened in that way. 

I believe even A. Baur said Briggs was a fair representation of how the banjo was played. And he was there. But none the less.....we are hobbyists having a good time. Whatever we do...it can't be that far off. Play it.....let it come alive for you.
 
Tim Twiss said:

Well, at least one person did it that way. That makes it authentic. 

We are all just playing this stuff.  Of course, we'll never know. The pursuit is fun, and so is just enjoying what we bring to this music in present day. I do take the written record, and the representation of this music over a large span of time and several different sources, to be SOMETHING that happened in that way. 

If we were performing this music back when it was current, would we worry about playing it exactly the way the person playing it just before us did?  Or would we take some pleasure in personalizing it and making it our own?  Different people may answer these questions differently but for those who wouldn't feel hide bound to recreate a prior performance in the 1860s, why would we worry about it now?

Yet people try to recreate prior recordings of Kirk Hammett, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Hendrix--- and least we forget… Elvis!

Tom Briggs, Billy Whitlock, Dan Emmett, Frank Converse, Eph Horn… these were the "rock stars" of the early banjo era and folks did want to play the way they did.

That is why the Dobson family would line 'em up to learn the "Juba Jig" by the simplified method for cash.

How exactly did they play?  Who knows.  But you can bet eager to learn banjoists wanted to play exactly like them.


Bob DeVellis said:

If we were performing this music back when it was current, would we worry about playing it exactly the way the person playing it just before us did?  Or would we take some pleasure in personalizing it and making it our own?  Different people may answer these questions differently but for those who wouldn't feel hide bound to recreate a prior performance in the 1860s, why would we worry about it now?

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