Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

From the Buckley 1868 Book. Ambitious arrangement from James Buckley as he captures this piece from the Verdi Opera "Il Trovatore".

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Comment by Rob MacKillop on July 25, 2010 at 1:33pm
Sorry, Tim, that made me smile broadly. Very hard work, and dare I suggest, not worth the effort? Funny, though.
Comment by Tim Twiss on July 25, 2010 at 1:41pm
Hey, I'm not judging it...just playing it.
Comment by Ian Bell on July 25, 2010 at 8:20pm
Could be a lost segment from Walt Disney's "Fantasia" I believe it calls for troupes of 1930s animated characters acting out the story.
Comment by Tim Twiss on July 26, 2010 at 8:02am
I think my new video converter has a bug...the audio strays from the video by the end. Anyway, this tune brings up some questions: In my opinion, it is a real stretch and not a tune I would "keep". That being said, I could also work at it and play it better...or use an ensemble. Did this one pop into the book (Buckley 1868) as an exercise in "expanding the repertoire" and meant only for individual enjoyment, or was this commonly expected of working pros? It is well known by the playbills that opera parody was involved in Minstrel shows. That is a curious evolution I would like to see played out sometime. Is this tune a "flop" or is it okay? Anybody else tried it? I know it should be faster...'nuther day perhaps.
Comment by Ian Bell on July 26, 2010 at 9:13am
My instinct is that your "expanding the repertoire" proposal is probably closest to the mark - with a bit of "novelty selection" thrown in for good measure. I'll bet that when this was published (as today) there would have been adventurous souls like yourself who would have tried it out and possibly added it to the repertoire and lots (like me) who would be scared off by any tune that had more than 32 bars to remember and was outside their usual musical idiom.
One of the staples of my early jig and reel learning days were the Kerr's Merry Melodies tune books from the 1880s. They always had a few pages of popular operatic melodies thrown into the waltz section for use at dances.
Comment by Brian Welch on July 26, 2010 at 11:39am
For an excellent take on the 19th century view of "classical" music in America, I highly recommend Highbrow / Lowbrow: the Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (1988) by Lawrence Levine. The distinctions between "highbrow" and "lowbrow" culture came late in the 19th century as wealthy Americans decided that they wanted to be more refined like their snooty European counterparts. Before then, Shakespeare, for example, was a popular playright and his plays were performed in a less refined and more popular style (including audience interaction--something Shakespeare himself would be more comfortable with compared to contemporary highbrow versions) and classical music was popular music. As the elites took control of art and music and theater, suddenly ticket prices were higher and everyone was supposed to sit quietly and take it in. But before this time, I can totally see a minstrel group taking on the Anvil Chorus. Here's a great picture from 1869 of Boston Firefighters practicing to play the Anvil Chorus at the Monster Musical Peace Jubilee:

Comment by Tim Twiss on July 26, 2010 at 12:05pm
Can't see your photo Brian...
Comment by Greg Adams on July 26, 2010 at 12:13pm
Great job Tim. I really enjoyed this piece. I think it would be a lot of fun to play with an ensemble.
Comment by Brian Welch on July 26, 2010 at 12:42pm

Try this link to the page where I found it:

1869 Anvil Chorus
Comment by Ian Bell on July 26, 2010 at 12:46pm
Amazing picture! Better arrange for an anvil for the AEBG.


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