New Minstrel picker here--as background, I've been doing clawhammer for 30+ years, and it seems that the primary goal in clawhammer (for many) is to get as far away from the tab as possible (there are also those who shun us who tab in favor or ear-learning exclusively but that's another story) while still retaining some semblance of the initial tune. I guess old time in general, probably due to its oral tradition, is made up of its thousands of tunes, some of which resemble other tunes with different names, have he same name with different tunes, are combinations of tune parts with new names, etc.
Bottom line--I get the feeling that because Minstrel tunes come from written music, and the tabs have specific fingerings/attacks that are also written down, and after watching and listening at many of the available videos, I should strive play tunes as written; note-for-note, stroke-for-stroke, and keep the improvisation for clawhammer....YES? (and as Judge Judy would say: "This requires an answer of yes or no. When I need more information I'll ask another question"! thanx.....hugh
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Simply look at compendiums of music, such as Elias Howe's Musician's Companion from 1850. In it you will find a variety of music including Irish and Scottish music. There is music from Europe, "Ethiopian" music, popular music, classical music, etc. One thing that Elaine's and my research is showing is that here in America, what was called "Scottish" music and "Irish" music is actually more of an American impression of these genres rather than necessarily being music from those countries. As a reference: