Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

A comparison of the classic Briggs' "Ethiopian Cracovienne" to a piece called "Cracovienne Quickstep".

Views: 118

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Comment by Strumelia on March 20, 2016 at 8:23pm

Well played, Tim!   Sounds like Briggs' version has more dropthumbs and ornaments added, but essentially the same tune?

Those Ethiopians must have known a thing or two about Polish traditional dances...lol:

Comment by Timothy Twiss on March 20, 2016 at 8:40pm

I had never seen that video. I might imagine the 1850's tempo of the dance is similar to this. Can't thin a banjo player tuned low in Stroke would attempt this. Thus.....a unique banjo "thing"

Comment by Paul Draper on March 20, 2016 at 10:01pm
That's interesting. So is the cracovienne dance always associated with that particular melody?
Comment by Timothy Twiss on March 21, 2016 at 7:46am

Yes...same tune. Even the same form. Like finding a dinosaur skeleton intact.

Comment by Strumelia on March 21, 2016 at 11:05am

Here is the same "Cracovienne" dance tune as collected from the Kyiv area of  north-central Ukraine:

Comment by Strumelia on March 21, 2016 at 11:25am

Brian said to me this morning that it was 'obvious' to him that "Cracovienne" is an english version meaning 'a person from Krakow' (Poland)...along the lines of saying a Parisienne is someone from Paris.

Indeed, the children dancing video above begins with the title "Krakowiak" ...and we can find all we need to know about this Polish traditional dance here:


The Briggs and the Quickstep versions we are more familiar with have an additional interesting part (or two?) to them.  As to who actually composed those added parts- it seems clear that folks were borrowing from traditional tunes and then putting their names on arrangements of it...a common practice even today.
The other parts of this tune that we see in Briggs and in the Quickstep sheet music would fairly likely have been from a slightly more elaborated version of the traditional Cracovienne dance piece that is not represented in a modern recording we can easily find on youtube.  I'm thinking the entire piece is simply a traditional Polish folk dance tune that was transcribed during the 1800s for other instruments and also arranged for banjo by Briggs.

Comment by Timothy Twiss on March 21, 2016 at 11:41am

Anyway.....the main idea is outside influences on the Early repertoire. Europeans making sense of the banjo in the way they can.

Comment by Timothy Twiss on March 21, 2016 at 11:42am

Or rather, European Americans...ha ha

Comment by Strumelia on March 21, 2016 at 12:45pm

well, definitely not Ethiopians, in any case.   ;)

Comment by Timothy Twiss on March 21, 2016 at 1:37pm

No...ha ha. But, the play on words is great, isn't it? It is one of the best in the tutors....just brilliant.


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