Minstrel and Classic Banjo: American and English Connections

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Minstrelsy, Pre Blues, Robert B. Winans and Elias J. Kaufman, The Colour Line

Author : Robert B. Winans & Elias J. Kaufman

Source : https://sites.google.com/a/wildblue.net/winansbanjo/

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“In the 1840s the minstrel show in the United States popularized what had previously been a black folk instrument with African origins, the banjo. This popularization led to the development of banjo traditions in both folk culture, white as well as black, and popular culture (in the parlor as well as in the theater). In the more familiar folk tradition of five-string banjo playing, folk musicians (mostly rural southern) have continued to maintain the early minstrel style of playing, now called
clawhammer or frailing, long after its decline on the stage and in parlor traditions of the 1880s.1 In England, on the other hand, blackface minstrelsy, though popular, spawned no lasting folk tradition of banjo playing. The most likely explanation of this phenomenon is that while the American folk tradition was already an amalgam of Anglo-American and African American music, into which the banjo fit well musically, mid-nineteenth century British folk music was not such an amalgam. English banjo traditions have existed primarily at the professional and parlor levels with which this article is mainly concerned.”

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