Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Two of my favorites from Knauff's Virginia Reels put together as a medley. That B part on Old Dominion always wants to speed out of control!

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Comment by Timothy Twiss on February 22, 2016 at 11:00am

Is there something besides the piano score from which these can be observed?

Comment by John Masciale on February 22, 2016 at 11:32am

Not to my knowledge.  That's why I've taken on re-scoring all of them to melody line and chords.  It is an interesting project.

Comment by Timothy Twiss on February 22, 2016 at 11:35am

Yes, I bet. I'll look forward to seeing what you are doing. But, these being piano, they are already an arrangement. I'm sure the melody follows almost exactly, but it would be nice to see the original fiddle or C cleff score. I'm sure its out there someplace.

Comment by Strumelia on February 22, 2016 at 12:15pm

I love that you are all literally bringing these tunes back from the dead.  And I'm humbled and thrilled that you are all my friends!    :)

Comment by Mark Weems on February 22, 2016 at 12:18pm

The fiddle scores do exist - in the hands and minds of fiddlers and banjo players who have been playing these tunes in an unbroken line of succession since before Knauff. Many of these tunes are still being played by old-time musicians right now - even in the same key. Forked Deer is a perfect example - it requires no re-arranging for the banjo and it sounds exactly like people play it down in this region today. Several of them later became Minstrel Stage tunes in spite of people like Dan Emmett claiming to have composed some of them - Boatman's Dance, for example.

Comment by Timothy Twiss on February 22, 2016 at 12:29pm

I don't think Emmett claimed that one. As I recall he tried to imitate the chorus from what he heard, and wrote verses to go with it. 

Ok, I get the tradition part that it is passed down...just curious if there was a fiddle or C cleff record.

Comment by Mark Weems on February 22, 2016 at 12:51pm

None that I or Alan Jabbour are aware of. 

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Comment by John Masciale on February 22, 2016 at 2:51pm

I haven't come across very many scores outside of these for many of these tunes. I will say that even the familiar tunes are a little different from what we are familiar with. The bass line in the piano arrangement really changes the texture of the music. Playing some of these on banjo loses that aspect of the music. Some of these pieces were written by Knauff, which means the piano score is his first publication of the music, so looking at the piano score in these cases is very important.

Comment by Timothy Twiss on February 22, 2016 at 3:01pm

Ok...did not realize that. I thought perhaps he was the collector of these melodies.

Comment by John Masciale on February 22, 2016 at 4:18pm

A little of both.  It is really difficult to see where some of these came from. It might be very interesting to compare these scores with the scores from the collections of William Sidney Mount and Micah Hawkins.

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