For enthusiasts of early banjo
After seeing the film "12 Years A Slave", I read Solomon Northup's account (published in 1855 by Miller, Orton & Mulligan) of his kidnapping and being held i...
After seeing the film "12 Years A Slave", I read Solomon Northup's account (published in 1855 by Miller, Orton & Mulligan) of his kidnapping and being held in slavery in Louisiana. At the end of the narrative, Northup includes a transcription of this song which he mentions on page 219 of his narrative. I'm playing from his transcription.
The "creation/plantation' lines found their way into Tommy Jarrell's old-time "Ducks on the Mill Pond".
Was there only one verse of lyrics in the book, Paul?
Paul this is great! So cool that you did that. :)
What tuning did you use for this? I hear it's in G, as per the fiddle notation. But it looks like maybe it's awkward to play the 4-tied notes...?
I'm wondering if there is or might have been another banjo tuning in key of G that would have made this tune more flowing to play on the banjo back then?
I'm playing in G (low bass). You're right, a little awkward. I use pull-offs on the 4-tied notes; the B part flows a little better due to the thumb-string picking up the D notes. (I like the B part...)
As an aside, Northup (a fiddler, and who was "considered the Ole Bull of Bayou Boeuf") makes only one mention of banjo-playing in his narrative: "[...] many there were among my fellow-bondsmen whose organs of tune were strikingly developed, and who could thumb the banjo with dexterity [...]" (p. 216)
I'm trying to imagine myself as a banjo player back then, trying to play this tune along with the fiddler, in G. The first thing I might do when I hit the clumsy fingering parts would be to twist the tuners to see if I could find another tuning that would make the fingering more natural. I have to believe banjo players played around with such things back then too.
Have you tried it in double-G? (i haven't...)
No I have not tried it at all- too many jobs today! :(
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