Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I'll allow Marc the honor of intrroducing this new find. I have the copy, and will post it on my site tomorrow with a link. What a great opportunity to play and discuss new material....find links to old material, and talk about the text-which specifies banjo and guitar style. This is a great chance to get equal footing on a new work.....we can play, interpret, and discuss the songs. I'm really excited.

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Cool. It took me longer to get this scanned than I expected...but we had a visit from family and then a series of plumbing mini-disasters that have kept me busy. Hopefully, I've plumbed my last plumb for a while and can get my head out from beneath the kitchen sink.

This book is about double the size of the "Little Yellow Book", physically; about the size of a modern large-format paperback. 90-odd pages and essentially a bridge between the previous two volumes and the later ABM 15yrs hence. It carries an 1871 copyright imprint.

It is very nearly falling apart, the binding is broken and many pages are torn away from the bottom staple. If the binding would have been just a bit worse, I would have disassembled it to scan (cutting the staples and separating the pages). Certainly would have been easier to scan, as the pages are fragile and crumbling. However, I think I got a decent scan of everything. One page is torn partially away, leaving us missing the end of "Champaign Charlie" and the beginning of "Pat Malloy".

As far as what's in it, well, y'all tell me. Look thru it, play the tunes, dissect it, etc.

I must mention one funny thing...with this book, I received another, the Fairbanks & Cole tutor of 1886. In it, it appears to contradict, somewhat vehemently, a sentence in the Converse.

Converse: "Keep your instrument in a dry place, and enclosed in either a box or suitable bag, and finally, before placing it there, remove the bridge."

F&S: "We wish also to impress upon the minds of Banjo-players the uselessness of taking down the Bridge when putting the instrument away, as such a proceeding injures the instrument. Washing the head of the Banjo is also injurious, as it impairs the tone and is of no practical benefit."

I just love 19th C commentary. 

The F&C also refutes the 5th string "double stem", claiming it is confusing...and adding: "We consider it best to always play the E on the fifth string open, (unless otherwise marked,) for the reason that such a change assists the student, and does not confuse him with useless signs."

I'm told that this is one of four extant copies. ENJOY!!

Yes, great news. Excerpts from it were published in the 5-Stringer, No.194, Summer-Fall 2006, and I recorded the piece in imitation of the bagpipes. The tuning is f#F#EG#B, but I'm a tone lower...

This version excludes the transpostion and appears in its original form.   

I'll agree with Messr's Cole and Fairbanks on this one; taking the bridge down every time I put my banjo away seems "useless."  Perhaps others will share the reason for doing that.  Especially when the employing the now standard gDGBD tuning that seems to have come into "play" around the 1880's; there's a lot of tension on the bridge there.  As to washing the head, Stewart recommends an eraser, I've tried it and it works great.

We'll all be watching your site closely, Tim, this is exciting as anything that happens in our little genre.  Thanks again, Mark for making it all possible.

Trapdoor2 said:

I must mention one funny thing...with this book, I received another, the Fairbanks & Cole tutor of 1886. In it, it appears to contradict, somewhat vehemently, a sentence in the Converse.

Converse: "Keep your instrument in a dry place, and enclosed in either a box or suitable bag, and finally, before placing it there, remove the bridge."

F&S: "We wish also to impress upon the minds of Banjo-players the uselessness of taking down the Bridge when putting the instrument away, as such a proceeding injures the instrument. Washing the head of the Banjo is also injurious, as it impairs the tone and is of no practical benefit."

Not sure what you mean there, Tim. Which version are you referring to when you say ''This version''? And what do you mean by transposition? I'm playing exactly what is on page 42, which includes the tuning I described and used (albeit a tone lower, as I mentioned).

The one you sent with the key signature and flag stems changed to facilitate a more modern tuning.

What? When? Can't remember that, but I am getting old a stupid...

The stuff in the 5-Stringer is altered. White out and a pen were used....

While we are looking at this, I just noticed ''Robert Le Diable'' (Page 14). It appears note for note but transposed to C in Ryan's True Banjo Instructor, which seems to have been published around 1874. If so, only three years after The Banjoist, others were ripping it off and transposing to the new-fangled key of C.

Got you. Didn't think it was me!

The ABF transposes all the music that they publish into C notation.  Because they view "Classic" banjo as a living breathing thing they have stuck with the 1907 guild decision to use adopt C notation.

That F&C stuff is in response to the Dobson family nonsense.  Look at your copy of the New School. 

Read all of that then read the stuff from F&C... it is pretty clear what is going on.

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