Banjo Roots and Branches

Banjo Roots and Branches

by Robert B Winans (Editor)


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The story of the banjo's journey from Africa to the western hemisphere blends music, history, and a union of cultures. In Banjo Roots and Branches, Robert B. Winans presents cutting-edge scholarship that covers the instrument's West African origins and its adaptations and circulation in the Caribbean and United States. The contributors provide detailed ethnographic and technical research on gourd lutes and ekonting in Africa and the banza in Haiti while also investigating tuning practices and regional playing styles. Other essays place the instrument within the context of slavery, tell the stories of black banjoists, and shed light on the banjo's introduction into the African- and Anglo-American folk milieus. Wide-ranging and illustrated with twenty color images, Banjo Roots and Branches offers a wealth of new information to scholars of African American and folk musics as well as the worldwide community of banjo aficionados. Contributors: Greg C. Adams, Nick Bamber, Jim Dalton, George R. Gibson, Chuck Levy, Shlomo Pestcoe, Pete Ross, Tony Thomas, Saskia Willaert, and Robert B. Winans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780252083600
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication date: 08/15/2018
Series: Music in American Life Series
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 1,214,708
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Robert B. Winans is a professor emeritus of American literature and folklore at Gettysburg College.

Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction ix

Part I Setting The Scene

1 Banjo Roots Research: Changing Perspectives on the Banjo's African American Origins and West African Heritage Shlomo Pestcoe Greg C. Adams 3

Part II Exploring The African Roots

2 Banjo Ancestors: West African Plucked Spike Lutes Shlomo Pestcoe 21

3 List of West African Plucked Spike Lutes Shlomo Pestcoe Greg C. Adams 45

4 Searching for Gourd Lutes in the Bijago Islands of Guinea-Bissau Nick Bamber 55

5 Interviews with Ekona Diatta and Sana Ndiaye, Master Musicians Playing within Traditional and Contemporary Commercial Contexts Chuck Levy 62

6 The Down-Stroke Connection: Comparing Techniques Between the Jola Ekonting and the Five-String Banjo Greg C. Adams Chuck Levy 83

Part III Into The New World - Caribbean Developments

7 "Strum Strumps" and "Sheepskin" Guitars: The Early Gourd Banjo and Clues to its West African Roots in the Seventeenth-Century Circum-Caribbean Shlomo Pestcoe 113

8 "Finding" the Haitian Banza Saskia Willaert 134

9 The Haitian Banza and the American Banjo Lineage Pete Ross 139

Part IV Into North America-Early Banjo Sightings

10 Zengers "Banger": Contextualizing the Banjo in Early New York City, 1736 Shlomo Pestcoe Greg C. Adams 153

11 The Banjar Pictured: The Depiction of the African American Early Gourd Banjo in The Old Plantation, South Carolina, 1780s Shlomo Pestcoe 172

12 Black Musicians in Eighteenth-Century America: Evidence from Runaway Slave Advertisements Robert B. Winans 194

13 Mapping Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Citations of Banjo Playing, 1736-1840 Robert B. Winans 214

Part V Inquiries Into White And Black Banjo In Nineteenth- And Twentieth-Century America

14 Black Banjo, Fiddle, and Dance in Kentucky and the Amalgamation of African American and Anglo-American Folk Music George R. Gibson 223

15 The Changing Intonational Practice of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Banjo Jim Dalton 256

16 Gus Cannon-"The Colored Champion Banjo Pugilist of the World" and the Big World of the Banjo Tony Thomas 272

17 Defining a Regional Banjo Style: "Old Country Style" Banjo or Piedmont Two-Finger Picking Robert B. Winans 289

Contributors 305

Index 309

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