The banjo is a stringed instrument developed by enslaved Africans in the United States, adapted from several African instruments. A string instrument (or stringed instrument) is a Musical instrument that produces Sound by means of Vibrating strings In the Hornbostel-Sachs Slavery in the United States began soon after English colonists first settled Virginia in 1607 and lasted until the passage of the Thirteenth The United States of America —commonly referred to as the  The name banjo commonly is thought to be derived from the Kimbundu term mbanza. Kimbundu is one of the most widely spoken languages in Angola, especially in the north-west of the country notably in the Luanda province Some etymologists derive it from a dialectal pronunciation of "bandore", though recent research suggests that it may come from a Senegambian term for the bamboo stick used for the instrument's neck. The Bandora or Bandore is the bass of the wire section in a Morley consort and as such can be regarded as a bass Cittern. The Senegambia Confederation was a loose Confederation between the West African countries of Senegal and its neighbour The Gambia, which is almost Bamboo is a group of Woody perennial Evergreen Plants in the True grass family Poaceae, subfamily Another possibility is derivation from the word Banjar, a stringed folk instrument, used in the music of Antigua and Barbuda.
African Slaves in the American South and Appalachia fashioned the earliest banjos after instruments they had been familiar with in Africa, with some of the earliest instruments sometimes referred to now as "gourd banjos". The Southern United States &mdashcommonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South &mdashconstitutes a large distinctive Appalachia is a term used to describe a region in the eastern United States that stretches from southern New York state to northern Alabama, One example would be an akonting. The akonting (or ekonting in French transliteration is the folk Lute of the Jola people found in Senegal, Gambia It is a spike folk lute played by the Jola tribe of Senegambia. The Jola ( Diola in French transliteration are an Ethnic group found in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. The Senegambia Confederation was a loose Confederation between the West African countries of Senegal and its neighbour The Gambia, which is almost Another similar instrument is the xalam of Senegal which dates back to ancient Egypt. Xalam, also spelled khalam, is the Wolof name for a traditional stringed musical instrument from West Africa. Ancient Egypt was an Ancient Civilization in eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now The modern banjo was popularized by the American minstrel performer Joel Sweeney in the 1830s. Joel Walker Sweeney (1810 – October 29, 1860) also known as Joe Sweeney, was a musician and early Blackface minstrel performer Banjos were introduced in Britain in the 1840s by Sweeney's group, the American Virginia Minstrels, and became very popular in music halls. The Virginia Minstrels or Virginia Serenaders was a group of 19th century American Entertainers known for helping to invent the entertainment form known 
The modern banjo comes in a variety of forms, including four-(plectrum and tenor banjos) and five-string versions. A six-string version, tuned and played similar to a guitar, is gaining popularity. The guitar is a Musical instrument with ancient roots that is used in a wide variety of musical styles In almost all of its forms the banjo's playing is characterised by a fast strumming or arpeggiated right hand, although there are many different playing styles. In Music, an arpeggio is a broken chord where the Notes are played or sung in Sequence, one after the other rather than Ringing out simultaneously
Today, the banjo commonly is associated with country and bluegrass music. Country music is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States and the Appalachian Mountains. Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and is a sub-genre of Country music. Historically, however, the banjo occupied a central place in African American traditional music, as well as in the minstrel shows of the 19th century. African American music (also called black music) is an umbrella term given to a range of Music and Musical genres emerging from or influenced by the The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits variety acts dancing, and Music, In fact, African Americans exerted a strong, early influence on the development of both country and bluegrass through the introduction of banjo, and as well through the innovation of musical techniques in the playing of both the banjo and fiddle.  Recently, the banjo has enjoyed inclusion in a wide variety of musical genres, including pop crossover music and Celtic punk. Celtic punk is Punk rock mixed with traditional Celtic music.
The instrument is available in many forms. The five-string banjo is credited to Joel Walker Sweeney, an American minstrel performer from Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Joel Walker Sweeney (1810 – October 29, 1860) also known as Joe Sweeney, was a musician and early Blackface minstrel performer The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits variety acts dancing, and Music, Appomattox Court House is a village located three miles (5 km east of Appomattox, Virginia, USA (25 miles east of Lynchburg Virginia, in the The Commonwealth of Virginia ( is an American state Sweeney wanted an instrument similar to the banjar played by African Americans in the American South, but at the same time, he wanted to implement some new ideas. He worked with a New York drum maker to replace the banjar's skin-covered gourd with the modern open-backed drum-like pot, and added another string to give the instrument more range or a drone. This new banjo came to be tuned gCGBD; somewhat higher than the eAEG#B tuning of the banjar, and Sweeney was playing it by the 1830s.
The banjo can be played in several styles and is used in various forms of music. Music is an Art form in which the medium is Sound organized in Time. American old-time music typically uses the five-string open back banjo. Old-time music is a form of North American Folk music, with roots in the Folk musics of many countries including England, Scotland, An open back banjo is a Banjo with no resonator (sound projectile accessory It is played in a number of different styles, the most common of which are called clawhammer (or "claw-hammer") and frailing, characterised by the use of a downward rather than upward motion when striking the strings with the fingers. Clawhammer and frailing describe a class of Fingerpicking techniques used by Banjo and rarely Guitar players Banjo picks are inserted onto the fingers for a smoother playing. Frailing techniques use the thumb to catch the fifth string for a drone after each strum or twice in each action ("double thumbing"), or to pick out additional melody notes in what is known as "drop-thumb. In music a drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or Accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout much " Pete Seeger popularised a folk style by combining clawhammer with "up picking", usually without the use of fingerpicks. Peter "Pete" Seeger (born May 3 1919 is an American folk singer political Activist, and a key figure in the mid-20th century American Folk music can have a number of different meanings including Traditional music: The original meaning of the term "folk music" was synonymous A fingerpick is a type of Plectrum used most commonly for playing bluegrass style Banjo Music.
Bluegrass music, which uses the five-string resonator banjo exclusively, is played in several common styles. Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and is a sub-genre of Country music. These include Scruggs style, named after Earl Scruggs, melodic or Keith style, and three-finger style with single string work, also called Reno style after Don Reno, legendary father of Don Wayne Reno. Scruggs style is the most common style of playing the Banjo in Bluegrass music. Earl Eugene Scruggs (born January 6, 1924) is a musician noted for perfecting and popularizing a 3-finger style (now called Scruggs style) on the 5-string The Keith style of playing the 5-string Banjo emphasizes the melody of the song Don Reno (b February 21, 1927 Spartanburg South Carolina - d October 16, 1984) was a bluegrass and Country Don Wayne Reno (b February 8, 1963 in Roanoke Virginia) is a Bluegrass musician and Banjo player and the son of Don Reno In these styles the emphasis is on arpeggiated figures played in a continuous eighth-note rhythm. All of these styles are typically played with fingerpicks. A fingerpick is a type of Plectrum used most commonly for playing bluegrass style Banjo Music.
Many tunings are used for the five-string banjo. Probably the most common, particularly in bluegrass, is the open G tuning (gDGBd). In earlier times, the tuning gCGBd was commonly used instead. Other tunings common in old-time music include double C (gCGCd), sawmill or mountain minor (gDGCd) also called Modal or Mountain Modal, old-time A (aDADE) a step up from double C, often played with a violin accompaniment, and open D (f#DF#Ad). These tunings are often taken up a tone, either by tuning up or using a capo. A capo tasto (from Italian capo, "head" and tasto, "tie or fret" or simply capo, is a device
The fifth (drone) string is the same gauge as the first, but it is generally five frets shorter, three quarters the length of the rest (one notable exception is the long necked Pete Seeger model, where the fifth string is eight frets shorter). Peter "Pete" Seeger (born May 3 1919 is an American folk singer political Activist, and a key figure in the mid-20th century American This presents special problems for using a capo to change the pitch of the instrument. A capo tasto (from Italian capo, "head" and tasto, "tie or fret" or simply capo, is a device Pitch represents the perceived Fundamental frequency of a sound For small changes (going up or down one or two semitones, for example) it is possible simply to retune the fifth string. Otherwise various devices, known as fifth string capos, are available effectively to shorten the string. Many banjo players favour the use of model railroad spikes or titanium spikes (usually installed at the seventh fret and sometimes at others), under which the string can be hooked to keep it pressed down on the fret. A fret is a raised portion on the neck of a Stringed instrument, that extends generally across the full width of the neck
While the five-string banjo has been used in classical music since the turn of the century, contemporary and modern works have been written for the instrument by Béla Fleck, Tim Lake, George Crumb, Jo Kondo, Paul Elwood, Hans Werner Henze (notably in his Sixth Symphony), Beck, J.P. Pickens, Peggy Honeywell and Sufjan Stevens. Contemporary classical music can be understood as belonging to a period that started in the mid-1970s with the retreat of modernism. Béla Fleck (born July 10, 1958 in New York City, New York) is an American Virtuoso Banjo player George Crumb (born October 24, 1929) is an American Composer of modern and Avant garde music Jō Kondō ( 近[[wiktionary 藤|藤]] 譲; surname Kondō; b Paul Iserman Elwood (born 1958 composer and Banjo player He received his B Hans Werner Henze (born July 1 1926 Gütersloh, Germany is a German composer well known for his left-wing political convictions Symphony No 6 for two Chamber orchestras by Hans Werner Henze was written in 1969. Beck' s birth name was Bek see the sources given This is not a typo and should not be changed without good reason Jean Paul (JP Pickens ( May 6, 1937 – July 6, 1973) was a leading force in the early North Beach San Francisco music scene circa Sufjan Stevens (ˈsuːfjɑːn born July 1, 1975) is an American Singer-songwriter and Musician from Petoskey Michigan
The plectrum banjo has four strings, lacking the shorter fifth drone string, and around 22 frets; it is usually tuned CGBD. As the name suggests, it is usually played with a guitar-style pick (that is, a single one held between thumb and forefinger), unlike the five-string banjo, which is either played with a thumbpick and two fingerpicks, or with bare fingers. Often called a pick or plec, a plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. A fingerpick is a type of Plectrum used most commonly for playing bluegrass style Banjo Music. The plectrum banjo evolved out of the five-string banjo, to cater to styles of music involving strummed chords. Eddie Peabody was possibly the greatest exponent of the plectrum banjo style in the early to mid twentieth century. Captain Edwin Ellsworth Peabody ( February 19 1902 - November 7 1970) was an American musical entertainer
A further development is the tenor banjo, which also has four strings and is also typically played with a plectrum. It has a shorter neck with around 19 frets and a scale length of 21 3/4" - 23" on shorter models, and 25 1/2" to 26 3/4" on longer ones. It is usually tuned CGDA, like a mandola, but has also been tuned GDAE like an octave mandolin which produces a more mellow tone. The mandola (US and Canada or tenor mandola (Europe Ireland and UK is a fretted stringed Musical instrument. The octave mandolin or octave mandola is an instrument which in construction is almost identical to a Mandola but is slightly longer in scale Tenor Banjos also come in short scale with 17 frets and are used by players who use fiddle fingering, in the GDAE tuning. These tunings became popular around the turn of the century due to the growing popularity of the mandolin. Another alternative, called "Chicago" tuning is DGBE (like the first four strings of a guitar) which is now regaining popularity due to the number of guitarists who double on banjo. The tenor banjo has become a standard instrument for Irish traditional music. The folk music of Ireland (also known as Irish traditional music, Irish trad, Irish folk music, and other variants is the generic term for music that has
The tenor banjo was also a common rhythm instrument in early jazz and dance bands throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Its volume and timbre suited early jazz (and jazz-influenced popular music styles) and could both compete with other instruments (such as brass instruments and saxophones) and be heard clearly on acoustic recordings. A brass instrument is a Musical instrument whose tone is produced by vibration of the lips as the player blows into a tubular Resonator. The saxophone (commonly referred to simply as sax) is a conical- bored transposing Musical instrument considered a member of the Woodwind However, as the guitar gained in popularity in the 1930s, the tenor banjo moved out of mainstream jazz and popular music finding a place in traditional jazz and Dixieland jazz.
Harry Reser was arguably the best tenor banjoist of the early twentieth century and wrote a large number of works for tenor banjo as well as instructional material. Harry F Reser ( 17 January 1896 – 27 September 1965) was an American Banjo player and bandleader
The tenor banjo is regaining popularity as Dixieland jazz finds its way back into experimental improvisational music. Its rise to popularity is being supported by the recent manufacturing of tenors at a working musicians price.
Rarer than either the tenor or plectrum banjo is the cello banjo. Normally tuned CGDA one octave below the tenor banjo, it matches the cello and mandocello in range. The violoncello (abbreviated to cello, or 'cello, plural cellos or celli —the c is tʃ The mandocello (mandoloncello, liuto cantabile or liuto moderno is a Plucked string instrument of the Mandolin family It played a role in banjo orchestras in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Four-string banjo playing (in addition to rhythm playing) can include single string playing, chord melody (in which a succession of chords are played where the highest note forms a melody), a tremolo style (both of chords and single strings) and a complicated technique called duo style which combines single string tremolo and rhythm chords.
Roy Smeck was an influential performer on many fretted instruments including banjo. Roy Smeck (born Leroy Smeck, 6 February 1900 – 5 April 1994) was an American Musician. He also wrote a number of solos and instructional books. Johnny Biar and Buddy Wachter are prominent four-string banjoists currently working professionally.
A British innovation was the 6-string banjo, developed by William Temlett, one of England's earliest banjo makers, who opened his shop in London in 1846. American Alfred Davis Cammeyer (1862-1949), a young violinist-turned banjo concert player, devised the 5-string zither-banjo around 1880, which had a wood resonator and metal "wire" strings (the 1st and 2nd melody strings and 5th "thumb" string; the 3rd melody string was gut and the 4th was silk covered) as well as frets and guitar-style tuning machines. British opera diva Adelina Patti advised Cammeyer that the zither-banjo might be popular with English audiences, and Cammeyer went to London in 1888. Opera is an art form in which Singers and Musicians perform a Dramatic work (called an opera which combines a text (called a Libretto Adelina Patti ( February 10, 1843 - September 27, 1919) was one of the most highly regarded Opera Singers of the 19th century After convincing the British that banjos could be used for more sophisticated music than was normally played by blackface minstrels, he was soon performing for London society, where he met Sir Arthur Sullivan, who recommended that Cammeyer progress from writing banjo arrangements of music to composing his own music. Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan MVO (13 May 1842 &ndash 22 November 1900 was an English composer of Irish and Italian descent best known for his operatic
(Interesting to note that, supposedly unbeknownst to Cammeyer, William Temlett had patented a 7-string closed back banjo in 1869, and was already marketing it as a "zither-banjo. ")
The first 5-string electric solid-body banjo was developed by Charles (Buck) Wilburn Trent, Harold "Shot" Jackson, and David Jackson in 1960.
The six-string or guitar-banjo was the instrument of the early jazz great Johnny St. Cyr, as well as of jazzmen Django Reinhardt, Danny Barker, Papa Charlie Jackson and Clancy Hayes, as well as the blues and gospel singer The Reverend Gary Davis. Johnny St Cyr (b April 17, 1890 in New Orleans Louisiana, d June 17, 1966 in Los Angeles California) was an American Jean "Django" Reinhardt ( January 23, 1910 – May 16, 1953) was a Belgian Gypsy jazz Guitarist Danny Barker ( 13 January 1909 &ndash 13 March, 1994) born Daniel Moses Barker, was a Jazz Banjoist, Singer Papa Charlie Jackson ( c1885 — 1938 Career Born William Henry Jackson, he originally performed in minstrel and Medicine shows Jackson Clarence Leonard Hayes was a Jazz vocalist Banjoist and Guitarist born in 1908 in Caney Kansas. Reverend Gary Davis, also Blind Gary Davis, ( April 30, 1896 &ndash May 5, 1972) was a Blues and gospel singer Nowadays, it sometimes appears under such names as guitanjo, guitjo, ganjo, or banjitar. Guitjo is a Plucked string instrument in the guitar or banjo family
A number of hybrid instruments exist, crossing the banjo with other stringed instruments. Most of these use the body of a banjo, often with a resonator, and the neck of the other instrument. Examples include the banjo mandolin; the Banjolin; Banjoline and the banjo ukulele or banjolele. The mandolin-banjo should not be mistaken for the Banjolin, though their names are sometime interchanged The three instruments described below are named " banjolin. "Banjoline" as well as being the instrument described below is the (French name often used to refer to the Mandolin-banjo. The ukulele (ˌjʉːkəˈlɛɪli from ʻukulele /ˌʔukuˈlele/ variantly spelled ukelele (particularly in the UK) or alternatively abbreviated uke The banjolele (brand name sometimes banjo ukulele or banjo uke) is a four-stringed Musical instrument with a small Banjo -type body and These were especially popular in the early decades of the twentieth century, and were probably a result of a desire either to allow players of other instruments to jump on the banjo bandwagon at the height of its popularity, or to get the natural amplification benefits of the banjo resonator in an age before electric amplification.
Instruments using the five-string banjo neck on a wooden body (for example, that of a bouzouki or resonator guitar) have also been made, such as the banjola. The bouzouki ( gr το μπουζούκι pl. τα μπουζούκια (plural sometimes transliterated as bouzoukia) is the mainstay of modern Dobro is a Trade name now owned by Gibson Guitar Corporation and used for a particular design of Resonator guitar. A 20th-Century Turkish instrument very similar to the banjo is called Cümbüs. The music of Turkey includes diverse elements ranging from Central Asian folk music and music from Ottoman Empire dominions such as Persian music, The cümbüş (dʒymˈbyʃ sometimes approximated as dʒumbuʃ by English speakers is a Turkish stringed instrument of relatively modern origin
A different variation is the bassjo used most notably by Les Claypool on the song "Iowan Gal. Leslie Edward "Les" Claypool (born September 29, 1963 in Richmond, California, U Of Whales And Woe is a solo album by Les Claypool, the bassist of Primus. " It is, in essence, a banjo with a bass guitar neck and bass strings. The electric bass guitar (also called electric bass, or simply bass; ˈbeɪs as in "base" is a Stringed instrument played primarily with the
Rhythm guitarist Dave Day of 1960's proto-punks The Monks replaced his guitar with a six-string, gut-strung banjo upon which he played guitar chords. The Monks are a Garage rock band primarily active in Germany in the mid to late Sixties. The Monks are a Garage rock band primarily active in Germany in the mid to late Sixties. This instrument sounds much more metallic, scratchy and wiry than a standard electric guitar, due to its amplification via a small microphone stuck inside the banjo's body.