Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

By Frank B. Converse, from his 1886 Analytical Banjo Guide. Very 'classic style' in flavor, but has a lot of hammer-ons and snaps that are not usually found in that later style. Thanks for turning me onto this one, Paul!

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Comment by Al Smitley on July 9, 2015 at 5:44am

Very nice.  I've always liked that tune and, as Wes might agree, it is very much like "Wonder Hornpipe", attributed to James Hill of Newcastle, a generation before Converse.  It would be interesting to know the provenance of this tune.  There are a few other of Hill's tunes in Ryan's though I don't think "Wonder" is among them.

Comment by Paul Draper on July 9, 2015 at 6:00am
Nicely done.
Comment by Andy Chase on July 9, 2015 at 7:07am

Thanks! Everything was a bit muddier than I would have liked; it's been super-humid here for days, and I actually broke a couple of strings on my workhorse banjo while trying to blow-dry the head, so I was on my Menzies 'pighead', which I have not played much lately.  The first section is *very* similar to Wonder Hornpipe indeed!   The second section is different enough that the two would make a nice medley - there's something about that little progression in the second part of 'Wonder' that grabs the ear.




Comment by Al Smitley on July 9, 2015 at 8:02am

Well!  That was nice, too.  Who's playing that?I was trying to play along on fiddle and, though I think "Wonder" is originally in Bb, it seems to work in pretty well in G.

Comment by Wes Merchant on July 9, 2015 at 9:13am

Very nice Andy!

Al, I've seen it (the Wonder) in G and Bb in various sources and have also heard the attribution to Hill, though I've never found any hard evidence of that. It does show up under several other names though, Coey's  in O'Neill and Tammany Ring In Ryan's so I'm not surprise to have another varient in Converse. 

Comment by Andy Chase on July 9, 2015 at 9:17am

His name is David Hansen - I happened to pick his as one of the nicer renditions of 'Wonder Hornpipe' I found when I searched YouTube!  I wonder if it's usually played in G in Celtic session contexts; I found some G notation over at thesession.org: https://thesession.org/tunes/337.  According to that site it's also known as "Coey’s, George Ross, George Ross’ Hornpipe, The Southern Shore, The Thames."

Comment by Al Smitley on July 9, 2015 at 9:43am

Yes, I agree, Wes and Andy.  Who knows how it originated.  Like many tunes, it fits into a tune "family" of similar tunes.  I think Hill was kinda known for hornpipes and "Wonder" is as hornpipy/bouncy as any, so maybe that helped make it attributable to Hill.  I've often wondered about "Off to California".  I've seen quite a few tunes in that family and wonder about the provenance of that one as well.  Was it around prior to the gold rush?  I suspect so, and a new title was merely tacked onto it.

Comment by Wes Merchant on July 9, 2015 at 10:11am
That's a wonderful post Al!
Comment by Al Smitley on July 9, 2015 at 12:22pm

Wes, that nice multi-track of "Wonder" with mandolin and English concertina was posted by Andy.

Comment by Wes Merchant on July 9, 2015 at 12:39pm

I was amused by the amount of wondering going on here about the Wonder...

As far as the key I think that session players  go for G since it's more flute and whistle friendly. Something I wonder about is what happened to all those Bb tunes that were in the 19th century books. Howe maintains  F and Bb are the best keys for violin.

http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/photo/qualities-of-the-different-keys... 

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