Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

In our recent investigations of late Colonial - Early American music that works quite naturally on the banjo we found this 18 Century jig in the Perkins Manuscript (1790). Site members James Pentecost, Mark Weems, Bryant Henderson, and Jack Whaley in a recent gathering in Durham, NC.

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Comment by Bell Banjos on December 9, 2012 at 11:05pm

Nice playing.  Nice arrangement. 

Comment by Ian Bell on December 10, 2012 at 8:12am

What a great tune. Thanks for posting. It shares some characteristics with some of the really early Freanch Canadian and Metis tunes I know. Was it written out in 6 or 3? What is the Perkins MS? (Full of questions ain't I?)

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on December 10, 2012 at 12:08pm

Very Cool, I love the sound of Marks banjo.

Comment by Paul Draper on December 10, 2012 at 2:07pm

Nice ensemble.

Comment by Matthew Mickletz on December 11, 2012 at 7:19am

Fun stuff!  Thanks for posting!

Comment by Mark Weems on December 11, 2012 at 9:54pm

Ian,

Yes, its extremely fun to play also. From - Perkins, Whittier. “A Collection of Dancing Tunes, Marches & Song Tunes.” (manuscript, 1790; in the Butler Library, Columbia Univ.) It is written in 6/8 time. Interesting comment about the Canadian and Metis tunes which I'm not all that familar with. I'd love to know which characteristics you think they share. To me it also bears some resemblances to the cadences of Pompey Ran Away. 

Comment by Nicholas A Bechtel on December 12, 2012 at 1:53am

Hey Mark where can one find the manuscripts. Your dead on about the similarity with Pompey Run Away. You guys sounded great.

Comment by Ian Bell on December 12, 2012 at 8:37am

I may have an over-active imagination, but the similarities I hear are the groove-based melodies that change keys (or at least tonal centers) between the A part and the B part.  The link here is to the "Red River Jig" which is a Manitoba Metis version of a Quebecois tune called "La Grande Gigue Simple". Both these tunes are in 3/2 time. I wouldn't read too much into any of this. They're all old, old, tunes of mixed parentage.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChCAw_sEVn8

Comment by Mark Weems on December 13, 2012 at 4:51pm

Right. The relatively simple melody (everything is played below third fret) is kept from becoming monotonous by the key change that occurs with every part. Kind of like with Going Ober the Mountain. So a wonderful rhythmic groove is generated with a tune that is easy to play! This is one of my new favorites. 

Comment by Silas Tackitt on December 19, 2012 at 11:13am

I found one page of the manuscript online from Columbia, but only that solitary page is displayed.  Since the odds are slim that I'll ever get to Columbia, could you be kind enough to share the page which contains The New Negro?  It's a simple sounding tune that I cannot get it out of my head.  Not that I want to. 

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