Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

This song comes from the Analytical Banjo Method of 1886 by Frank Converse. It is a great arrangement, and the skill shown by Converse in his later years cannot be understated. This is Stroke Style at later stage of development, and it is one of several like it in this book.

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Comment by Carl Anderton on January 17, 2009 at 11:33am
This version is of course more "ornate" than the arrangement of My Love Is But a Lassie in the 1865 Converse. To me, the 1886 version is perhaps a little over-ornamented. I guess each one has their application.
Comment by Tim Twiss on January 18, 2009 at 8:23pm
I agree. Even so, I think this one has a nice feel. Perhaps I'll live with it a little more and take another shot at it.
Comment by Steven Hedgpeth on March 11, 2009 at 10:49am
I've just learned this tune (last night, in fact) from Joe Weidlich's Centerstream transcriptions and recordings, and from such a newbie perspective as mine the ornamentation in your version is both startling and inspiring. By contrast, the version I'm doing seems to be a streamlined student version begging to be developed as the student is able. Are you departing much from the printed version?

I also note the way you reinforce your index finger to hit some notes as if holding a plectrum (unless my eyes are deceiving me). That seems like a good idea for me to try, since I sometimes have to use my middle finger or thumb when my index finger gets fatigued and achey. Some of those notes (esp. early A-part measures) are marked in the Weidlich-Converse version I have as notes to be sounded with the thumb--another inspiring idea.

These comments are certainly old hat on this forum, but I felt compelled to say something about this beautiful rendering of this piece.
Comment by Tim Twiss on March 11, 2009 at 10:56pm
Steve, the arrangement is as written, but it comes from another source. (The Analytical Method).
You can download it from the Banjo Clubhouse.
The technique you comment on is the hammer stroke. This is the description (see photos "Hammer")Converse gives (also from the Analytical). His music has marks for this stroke. It is also very useful in the earlier repertoire where it was not mentioned (but used frequently...IMHO).
Comment by Tim Twiss on March 12, 2009 at 8:08am
I put up a photo of the tune. The dots under the notes indicate a Hammer Stroke.
The Analytical contains some of the finest, well arranged, well fingered, and mistake-free Stroke Style songs in the entire repertoire...a continuation of the great work of Frank Converse. Some tunes are "notey" and "fancy", but really nice. Older books of his are slightly less ornate.


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