Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Celebrated Minor Jig, Les Sylphides, Pea Nut Girl

Three from Buckley 1868. More crossover stuff.

I think it funny that during this period it was not thought odd to get 'Les Sylphides' followed immediately on the page by 'Pea Nut Girl'.

Views: 164

Comment by Ian Bell on August 9, 2010 at 12:28pm
A short subject is probably more realistic - Though you have to admit the theme of The General lends itself to the music particularly well.

What you could do is break the film down into segments and assign ( in advance) different scenes to different banjoists so everybody's responsible for covering 10 minutes or so. With a few exciting spots where everyone joins in.

This might have to be a fringe event at some future AEBG (where else are you going to find enough banjoists with the right attitude?)
Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 9, 2010 at 1:48pm
I agree, "The General" would be an excellent subject. It is one of my favorites, certainly Keaton's best (although "Steamboat Bill Jr." is right up there...).

I'll take the horse chases. I think I have a couple of cocoanut shells 'round here somewhere...
Comment by Greg Adams on August 9, 2010 at 2:58pm
Great playing and interpretation Rob. What a great community of people we have!
Comment by Rob MacKillop on August 9, 2010 at 4:10pm
Thanks, Greg.
Comment by razyn on August 10, 2010 at 11:29am
I used to be slightly acquainted with Gillian Anderson, a musicologist then at the Library of Congress, who sort of specialized in the music of silent films. I just looked at her web page and found this, of possible relevance or interest:

Ms. Anderson has written four books (among them Music for Silent Films 1894-1929: A Guide which is available from the US Government Printing Office for $27 (C stock number 030-000-00199-1).

If anybody wants to pursue the question of actual use of the banjo in surviving film scores, I think she'd be the authority. Here's the url to her main page:

Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 10, 2010 at 1:08pm
And here I simply thought she was a decent actress... ;-)

Impressive bio! Certainly a potiential "go-t0" for this issue.
Comment by Ian Bell on August 10, 2010 at 8:33pm
And Rob just thought he was adding a video of a few tunes....
Comment by Rob MacKillop on August 11, 2010 at 1:26am
I was once asked to write a course for Film and Media students on Music In Film. I undertook a lot of research, starting with silent movies. Found it fascinating, but unfortunately the university never got the funding for the course.

Never came across any banjo, though. However, I think it very likely that the banjo was heard, if not during, then certainly before or after the film. Early cinema took place in vaudeville theatres. There would be the usual bunch of variety acts, and after a while a white sheet would descend and a short film was shown to the utter amazement of the audience. I'm sure that some of the musicians were asked to fill in some background noise, and I'm fairly certain the banjo would have been one of the instruments called upon.
Comment by Ian Bell on August 11, 2010 at 9:12am
At the museum where I work we ran an annual series of shows where we presented a program of carefully selected and edited home movies that had been shot in the immediate area between about 1928 and 1962. I put together a band and we accompanied the movies live on stage with everything from jigs and reels to "As Time Goes By". The audience were given instructions to talk as much as they wanted during the films. At one point, as we watched the beautiful runner-up in a 1942 bathing beauty contest on the the beach, an 80 year old in the front row chirped up "That's me" - and it was!


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