Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I carried this program before.

This program of the minstrel show which was played in Yokohama in Japan on March 27th in 1854.

I could not find the Sheet music of "Canal Boys" and "Sally Weaver".

I found 2 pieces of the music in "The Ethiopian glee book".

"Sally Weaver" is


"Canal Boys"  is


Do you think that this is right?

5 pieces of the other music were contained.

Satoshi Hara "Samurai Banjo"

Views: 1284

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

MIT has an online gallery of portraits from Perry's mission ( http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/black_ships_and_samurai/gall... ), including these two related images by Japanese artists:

Here's a related polka from the Music for the Naion, 1820-1860 website.

The tune is ok but likely not good fit for the banjo.  If so, it would require some transposing.


Yeah there is lots of  documentation of the general existence of the misntrel troops in Perry's fleets and in the several visits to Japan Perry made.  The real issue here is the specific docummentation of the program with the Picayune Butler song on it as opposed to the other program, documentation on a level required for a publication on that issue I am doing for Oxford University Press.   Basically, that got resolved outside this list by a member in Japan sending me references to where this program has been printed in books published only in Japan in Japanese.

There was a general fade of Japanese stuff in the 10 years or so after Perry arrived and a variety of pseudo Japanese pop tunes including ones vaguely associated with Perry swept popular music and "Japanese delineator" minstrel performers pretending to be Japanese became paprt of the minstrel scene while the few individuals Japan sent to the US as diplomatic representatives in response to Perry became celebrities followed int he press nation wide

thanks for the response but I got my answer offlist   I am traveling in Germany now and dont have the documentation from Japan I refer to but will post it here when I return to the US in November

Attached is a scan of a Japanese song booklet (from my collection), "Amerika no otsue bushi," from the late 1850s commemorating the Perry expedition.  And, as Tony noted, various pseudo-Japanese songs were published on these shores to commemorate the arrival of the first Japanese mission to America in 1860.  The Briggs banjo instructor contains two or three examples.  Others include the "Japanese Embassy March" and "The Tommy Polka," the latter dedicated to "Tommy," the popular junior member of the mission.  (My favorite version of the Tommy Polka can be found here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ucb1vKEd7Ig.)  In addition, minstrel troupes in New York City had a field day lampooning the Japanese ambassadors and their "Great Japanese Treaty."   

Here's a tintype of "Tommy," also from my collection: (Tateishi Onojiro):  

And a piece of sheet music:

Bob, I am interested in the booklet you mention, "Amerika No Otsue Bushi".   Are these songs in English?  Do you know where I can find it?  I looked on the Internet Archive to no avail.

Al, what I scanned with the front page of a little 8-page booklet that I bought a few years ago from a rare book dealer in California.   Six pages contain the song text (in Japanese) which, I suspect, was set to a popular Japanese tune of the day.  I was told that the text is about Commodore Perry and the coming of the Americans.  That's all I know, although I found an article on the internet about similar songbooks:  


Perhaps Satoshi (Samurai Banjo) knows more about these things.  Unfortunately, the inside pages of the booklet are too fragile to lay out on a flatbed scanner.  Maybe they could be photographed with a camera.

Reply to Discussion



John Masciale created this Ning Network.

© 2024   Created by John Masciale.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service