WHAT'S THE STORY BEHIND THE TUNE?

This underlined link will give you all the discussion threads covered since 2008 on Banjo Hangout's old-time Tune of the Week.  Many is the time you hear an old-time fiddle or banjo tune and wonder about the title and background.  Banjo Hangout.org is one site that has a forum to present such information, whether in brief or more extensive, as are my explorations on the Tune of the Week, linked below.  

 

Anybody can volunteer on Banjo Hangout to do an old-time TOTW. There's a list of tunes already covered.  You contact the person in charge, who will be me as of March, 2018 and you're assigned or choose a futureFriday date.

 

To prepare a TOTW first find the source recording.  Slippery Hill is a great site to hear original recordings.  The Library of Congress and Digital Library of Appalachia are two more.  Your own CDs are excellent sources.  Next, if possible, look for some information about the musician.  Then you can add details as well as contact contemporary musicians, usually fiddle or banjo players, who often are happy to answer your questions.  The simplest presentation is welcome and others will join and add to the discussion

 

Below are links for my own historical research, including music.

 

THE  BANJO'S  ROOTS

Dena J. Epstein (1916 - 2013) was a librarian who researched the history of American slave music.  She uncovered evidence of the banjo's African roots. Before her work there was credit being given to America as having created a unique instrument, but this wasn't so.    

 

Portrayed in Jim Carrier's DVD, The Librarian and the Banjo, you can watch an actual interview with Mrs. Epstein not long before she died and even witness the lovely tribute paid her by the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  Her seminal book is shown and many more banjo musicians pay tribute.

 

 Two parts of her book, Sinful Tunes and Spirituals, Black Folk Music to the Civil War, intrigued me greatly. One was an old etching of two gourd banjos.  The other was musical notation of three tunes.  Both were found in Dena's discovery of the journal of Sir Hans Sloane, a British physician who came to Jamaica in 1687 and later became the founder of the British Museum.

Some people have interpreted those musical notes with an African feel and instrumentation, as in this Musical Passage.  I play them in the 3-finger banjo style and find the tune called Koramanti distinctly beautiful.

Koramanti - Janet B
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