The Banjo, Yesterday and Today

By: Cordelia Tremont

Hearing a tune played on a banjo reminds us of Dixieland, country, and definitely blues music. The blues and banjos are connected, but the blues varies according to where it’s being played. Even though the instrument is the same, each banjo has its own special sound and is unique among the stringed instruments.

African Americans have been playing the banjo and the fiddle for nearly 300 years. Caucasians also have been playing it since the late 1800s and early 1900s, and both races shared their strumming style and appreciation for the banjo. Region also influences how the music sounds. If you hear it played in the Mississippi Delta, then travel to Virginia Piedmont, you may not know it’s the same instrument.

The great thing about banjo playing is that many black players shaped the music and style of the banjo starting in the late 1800s. One of the most mentioned is a man named Gus Cannon. Gus played under the name of “Banjo Joe”, usually being accompanied by Blind Blake. During 1927,Banjo Joe cut several recordings for Paramount in which his “frailing techniques”, slide playing, and roll patterns became so famous.

Today, you hear banjo played with a square dance type sound, swing, blue grass, and everything in between. The music played in the late 1800s had a more fluid sound, almost like good friends gathering for a good, old-fashioned jam session. The sound back then was accented with off beats and speckled with rhythm. What we hear more of today is a stiffer sound. While still a wonderful instrument, you cannot help but miss the old playing of Allen Shelton and many of the other famous banjo players that knew how to cut loose.

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About the Author:

Cordelia Tremont provides a range of resources at her web site: Red Banjo, where you will find information about different types ofbanjo. Why not take a look: www.redbanjo.com  Article Source: http://www.emusicguides.com

 


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