Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Since John Masciale just mentioned (few hours ago in another discussion) my talk on variation at this year's AEBG, now is a good time to announce that I have finally posted on my website (WinansBanjo, see Navigation Panel at left) the handout that those attending the Gathering were given. This document includes the notated variations that were the subject of my talk. I am convinced that variation of the sort that I experiment with in this document was common among minstrel banjoists, as well as among non-stage stroke banjoists, just as both regional and personal variation in the performance of a given tune has been common among traditional fiddlers and banjoists. I hope you all find something of use for your own playing in the material I presented (even if I have not yet posted audio or video) and I welcome responses in this forum to this material. the issue of variation also impinges on the Tim's latest posted discussion on tempo, so I will make a few comments there as well.


Banjovially, Bob

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Great topic for discussion, Bob.  I would think most players from that time period did not have the tutors and played by ear.   I disagree about standard musical notation, however.  I learned to read music at age 8 when I took instrumental music, studying the clarinet.  It is not very difficult to read standar music notation.  In college I took Classical Guitar taught in standard notation, but i was already exposed to guitar tablature.  I felt the tab was superior then, as I still do.  Looking forward to your posts showing the variations.  Bob Flesher's Minstrel Banjo Book (tab) & CD  show a number of variations that he made up and these can give us ideas on how to do variations to any tune.

Tom, you do not have to "look forward" to my posts showing variations. Perhaps the way I stated it was not clear, but the variations are currently available on my website, WinansBanjo, and the navigation panel I referred to is on that site. And my goal was to do exactly what you say at the end of your last sentence: to give you ideas on how to do variations to any tune. The Variations document includes, in addition to specific tune examples, a kind of table of substitutions that can be applied to any tune, while staying within the techniques laid out in the early tutors. What I have not put up yet is any audio or video of the examples, although I intend to do that.

You can find a link to Bob's website on the Resources/Websites page of this forum.  The link directly to his varations is:  https://docs.google.com/a/wildblue.net/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&...


Thanks, John, for posting a direct link to the Variations document. However, it would be better if people approached that document through my website home page. From there one should click on the Variations link in the Navigation panel, which takes one to an introductory statement about the Variations document which I think is important to understanding what I was attempting to do and some of the assumptions I made in doing it.

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