Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

A lovely song from the 1820's as found in Elias Howe's Banjo Preceptor of 1848. My fingerings for this piece were taken from the beautiful playing of Joe Ayers

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Comment by Tim Twiss on September 24, 2012 at 9:15am

I realize the music was around earlier. Any diatonic melody is "banjo music". In this way, almost all fiddle music is "banjo music". A good arrangement depends upon the skill of the arranger. This does not mean just adding notes, but rather finding the greater advantage of the instrument...indicating use of the thumb string, pulls, hammers, and slides. I have arranged several from this book, attempting to not stray too far from the original intent with craziness. I think many of them worked out well. If you wouldn't mind taking a peek, I'd appreciate your feedback. These are my takes on Gumbo Chaff material.

Comment by Tim Twiss on September 24, 2012 at 9:50am

The photo "feature" does not show everything.  I tried to list Philosee Charcoal, Gumbo Chaff, Long tail Blue, Coal Black Rose, Backside Albany, Jump Jim Ctow. Just searh in the top right corner and tey will pop up. I would appreciate any feedbacjk on how you think these arrangements lay, and remain true to a melody.


Comment by Strumelia on September 24, 2012 at 11:43am

Tim, only a certain number of 'featured' photos will show when one clicks to the Photos section.

But- if you then click on "View All" link within the abbreviated 'featured' section , it will take you to a page showing ALL the featured photos, here: http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/photo/photo/listFeatured

Comment by Tim Twiss on September 24, 2012 at 1:43pm

Okay thanks...I did not know about that.

Comment by Vince Abadie on September 24, 2012 at 10:44pm

Beautifully done, Mark! 

Comment by Mark Weems on September 24, 2012 at 11:03pm

Thanks, Tim, I'll run through a few of these when I get a moment. I just think, in general, we might need to be careful about letting Briggs define "banjo style" or the idiosyncratic Rice, or whomever.

Comment by Tim Twiss on September 25, 2012 at 6:01am

Mark, I'll let you elabrate a bit more on that thought before I reply.

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on September 25, 2012 at 12:16pm

WOW that is quiet a statement, look forward to hearing the evidence that suggests otherwise. 

Comment by Rob Morrison on September 25, 2012 at 12:57pm

Mark-- That was a great interpretation of "Gumbo Chaff."  My own version is a bit simpler than that.  Also, as always, I'm a huge proponent of improvization and the ideal of never playing something through twice exactly the same way, if possible.  Lots of the little embellishments or quirks in my playing have grown out of inadvertant mistakes, but if I like them I will incorporate them.  I always say that if you play the right note at the wrong time it's a mistake.  Conversely, if you play the wrong note at the right time, it's an intersting variation. My idea of this type of music is that it is free and improvisational in nature.  That was certainly true of Dink Roberts' banjo music.  He's the closest contemporary link I've ever heard to the wellsprings of this music.  Anyway I just don't see the necessity or value of doctrinaire discussions about how to play this stuff.  It's about as interesting as hearing old time musicians argue about whose playing is authentic and whose isn't.  If it's a living art form , none of that should matter much. 

Comment by Tim Twiss on September 25, 2012 at 1:14pm

I think that there is a lot of value in discussing how to play this music. That is one reason this place exists. Where else you gonna do it...and who else cares? At least we can have discussion about interpretation, unless you just want to have a big "feel good" club. I am open to, and support many ideas.....I learn much here all the time. Seeing something else and another point of of view always opens my eyes. Maybe I can open other eyes...I don't know. One thing for sure, and that is that most people have a fair amount of passion about this. All good! We should be able to challenge, discuss, and compare all of it....in good spirit. I think many people seek the elusive answer as to "what it was". As a contemporary art form all this falls into place there, and anything goes. I'm sure the old timers want folks to carry on with a spirit of adventure. We have to beware of factual claims. Opinions abound....but concrete conclusions about inconclusive evidence - that is a breeding ground for aruments.


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