Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Mid 19th Century Minstrel Tambourine

A great reproduction made by Dave Kirchner in Maryland. Goat skin head.

Views: 384

Comment by Tom Berghan on June 13, 2017 at 9:59pm
Whoa!!! WOW! Great playing Mark!!! NOW I "get" tambourine. That is an entirely different experience!
Comment by Mark Weems on June 13, 2017 at 10:09pm

I'm working on my dancing while playing!

Comment by Chris Prieto on June 13, 2017 at 10:47pm
Funky breaks on the Tambo!
Comment by Sonny Bryan on June 14, 2017 at 7:40am
Beautiful sound! Very tribal...Dave, is quite the craftsman, as well as, musician, ain't he?
Comment by Tom Berghan on June 14, 2017 at 7:59am
Evolution: A musician friend of mine says it is basically the same as the Italian pandaretta and very close to the Iranian /Kurdish Daf.
Comment by Strumelia on June 14, 2017 at 8:54am

Bravo Mark!  And bravo Dave K!

We tend to forget that tambourines are FRAME DRUMS.  Frame drums are found all over the world in all cultures, many have jingles/rattles/bells/snarestrings etc attached to add more percussion effects.

Because most of us grew up with our only exposure to tambourines being SalvationArmy/Monkees/PartridgeFamily/Byrds, we naturally tend to approach tambo playing from a 'Davy Jones lite' basis.

But looking at minstrel era illustrations, one sees tambo players wielding formidable tambos on high while leaping about, looking like they are playing in a much livelier and skilled manner... sometimes holding large tambos up with one hand on bottom, sometimes even punching with a fist.

I strongly suspect that good players of large tambos utilized a broader set of frame drumming skills than we usually see today in reenacting.  Frame drumming includes a vast array of techniques, a few of which Mark neatly demonstrates in this video.  Soft deep thumb booms, sharp fingertip snaps, thumb rolls, sandpapery broad brushes, fingerplaying the zils with either hand... it's almost limitless.  For example, here's a fellow using traditional Italian tambourine techniques: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er3gLTtqx5E

There's no reason to believe musicians of the minstrel period would have limited themselves to only rudimentary beginner techniques of banging/shaking their tambourines.

Comment by Tom Taggart on June 14, 2017 at 12:22pm

Nice Mark! We tend to forget the tambo is a very versitile.

Comment by Tom Berghan on June 14, 2017 at 6:44pm
Strumelia, that is a GREAT performance video of the Italian Tamburello. And, extremely similar to Mark's excellent performance.
Comment by Richard Graham on November 6, 2018 at 8:23pm

It's a great looking drum and nice playing, but inauthentic for minstrel era performance. Studying the pictorial and literary evidence from the period, the dum and tak strokes of the Arabic approach were never used. The clicking of jingles wasn't even invented until Egyptian tambourine (riq) players began using that technique in the takht ensembles of the late 19th century. So what did the minstrel era tambourinists do? They mainly rocked the tambourine against their open hand to achieve a repetitive ostinato "ride" pattern, or they struck the back of their hands against the head in an up and down motion.  The thumb or finger roll, head bounce, and shake provided the ornaments. It also remains possible that some of the Italian-derived techniques associated with the various tambourine manuals published in the late 18th and early 19th century were also employed.

Comment by Mark Weems on November 6, 2018 at 10:49pm

Richard, please share with us the "literary evidence" you have found of exactly what minstrel tambo technique was.

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