Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

One thing we really do not know about playing this old music....is where does the beat lay? Was there a greater emphasis on the downbeat, or the backbeat? It works either way. Some performers use one...some the other. I don't know that there are any historical indicators. Any opinions?

Views: 810

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I had to look that up.

Yes..."strong' beat...for others. sorry

Most of us banjoists....DO accompany on the back beat. Is this this natural enough to think it was common practice 150 years ago...and even more, to what degree did the PERCUSSIONISTS follow this?

Most bone players snap the backbeat...those I have encountered anyway.

We do also hear of the heavy heel or foot the earliest solo players utilized. This would imply a strong downbeat. Hans Nathan actually wrote out an arrangement including bones and tambo. He gave the tambo a steady pulse with a shake on beat 4. ( Don't really know what he based that upon ).


Listen to Joe Ayers version of Power of Music with the field drum covering both the beat and off beat. Brilliant!

Yes...always liked that one.

From the stand point of your garden varity jigs,reels,polkas,etc. I think the dance requires a strong downbeat,that's where the step or figure starts. I think as the dances moved to the stage professional dancers played with the beat to create more excitement and certainly as dance styles changed so did the placement of the accents.

You have to have speakers with bass capabilities on your computer in order to even hear the drum.

This is beyond just a steady beat. It is quite syncopated.

Tim Twiss said:

Yes...always liked that one.

Totally changing the feel of the piece. A wonderful phenomenon.

Most of us banjoists....DO accompany on the back beat.

Tim, what kinds/styles of banjo players are you including in that?   Almost all the several hundred banjo players i have known emphasize the downbeat in their playing, not the back beat.  but I don't play/travel in many different styles of banjo player groups, mostly oldtime/fiddle tune scenes.  Maybe we just hear it differently?  I don't mean they ignore the backbeat, I just mean the emphasis I hear from banjo players is on the 1 & 4 downbeats.  Unless you're talking bluegrass, where the accompaniment rolls can have a somewhat 'constant' emphasis when not playing melody notes.

Reply to Discussion



John Masciale created this Ning Network.

© 2021   Created by John Masciale.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service