Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Anyone want to read through the Gumbo Chaff with me? It would be so awesome. Go straight  through it. Mark....do I hear a nibble of interest? We can do "as is" versions, then interpretations.

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Okay, well I am going to go for it. Just a straight reading of the book, as is...to the best of my ability. Feel free to comment or join in. I am going to join a few together at a time, but keep them in sequence.

Page 6....must concede to the wrong key signature. Happy Are We Darkies and I Seen Her At The Window both are obviously in G and missing that sharp. Getting ready to try them.

So, what do you guys think of this music so far? Is anyone else giving them a spin to see how they sound? To see how they lay on the instrument?

Okay, I am half way through the book. Is anyone else trying these? any observations? I was quite a critic of this book as a banjo book that was worth a hoot. I guess this is the best way to find out. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and try them all. Then, at the end....I will to reflect what I found. Keep in mind, I never knocked the tunes....only the presentation as banjo material.

I have a few more I going to do. I do find these settings to be much more fiddle friendly than banjo, Tim are you going to do the Bb ones as written? I know Howe was a fiddler, and seemed to think F and Bb among the best fiddle keys, did he do any banjo books other than this one?


Yes, I'll do them as written.

Do as many as you can. I may get my flute instructor to read these as well, for maximum contrast. These same pieces are for flute, violin, and banjo. As for the banjo....possible, but not practical.

I would look to his glee book. That is a BEAUTIFUL publication. I think these tunes should be thought of as a compliment to the vocal versions, which was the focal point of early minstrelsy.

So far, this book is like shopping in a dept. store in the men's section and finding a cool shirt you like, and then going into the women's dept. and finding the same thing. yeaaaaa....I could wear it, but.......

Strumelia...come over here and play.

You do not need fingerings, but you need to know what note references the thumb string. This was the greatest gift of Briggs ( along with early illustration of a Combination ).  Using an "E" instead of a "D" can make all the difference in the world. This book, actually gives you a "C" and is incongruent with any of the music that follows.

I'm not really paying much attention to what actual key it's written in, just sensing where the 'home note'/tonic note is in the tune, and making sure that's either where the first finger/second string is, if I'm in a low bass tuning.  Then I make sure to play the sharps or flats when they come up in the tune.  If I need the bass string to be high bass, I change it. I throw in thumb string hits where it seems needed.  Does this make any sense to anyone?

Sounds like the long way around, but if it works for you...that is what counts.

It seems like the short way around to me, once I read the music and can hear the tune in my head.  All I really have to do is figure out where that first note or two falls on the banjo so that the tune follows easily..   :)

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