The world of music became even more melodious when Banjo was born to a family of musical instruments. All of us have heard and grooved to the tunes of a Banjos without even knowing it! Here is a collection of a few facts about this sureela-thing called Banjo.
1. This is a stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame to form a resonator. The membrane is typically circular and usually made of plastic, occasionally made from animal skin.
2. The Modern Banjo is made by modifying the instruments used in the early 1600s by West Africans in the Caribbean.
3. While the Oxford Dictionary says that the word ‘Banjo’ is derived from the Portuguese word Bandore (a plucked musical instrument), The Cambridge History of American Music hints at the name being derived from the Kimbundu term Mbanza (string instrument).
4. The first-ever official description of Banjos was in a journal entry made by an English Physician, Sir Hans Sloane, in 1687. He visited Jamaica and saw this Afro-Caribbean instrument which he referred to as a “strum strump”.
5. The researches in West African music revealed over 60 plucked instruments that resembled Banjos in one way or the other. All of these instruments are likely to be the predecessors of modern-day Banjo.
6. The first commercial Banjo was manufactured by William Boucher. He moved from Germany to Baltimore with his family in 1845, when he started selling Banjos in his shop in the central district.
7. Joel Walker Sweeney officially became the first white Banjo player and the first professional Banjoist, learning directly from the African Americans. But contrary to this, some prominent southern historians hint at Robert McAlpin Williamson, a renowned jurist of Texas, to be the first white Banjo player (1828).
8. Initially, Banjos was thought to be able to contribute to folk and country music. Later on, this assumption got falsified when the Banjo virtuosos played Rock, Jazz, R&B and even classical music by using Banjo.
9. This instrument is a musical exploration in itself. The range and flavour of music offered by a Banjo can differ, depending on how this instrument is played. For instance, the traditional method is, picking the strings upward with fingers and downward with a thumb. But the Clawhammer technique focuses only on down picking.
10. There have been regional versions of this instrument as well. In India, we have an ‘Indian Banjos’, used mainly throughout India. Yes, the same Banjo that Riteish Deshmukh used throughout the movie ‘Banjo’!
11. Banjos are played in the very popular Ganpati Mahotsav, celebrated throughout Maharashtra with great pomp and show. The legendary and evergreen song ‘Asan Te Tenu Rabb Mannya’ by the Wadali Brothers also has the tunes of Banjo.
The range and moods of music offered by a Banjo are way-way-way more than the number of strings it has. The more you’ll hear it, the more grateful you’ll be for its existence, literally.
What's Your Reaction?
Every coin has two sides, and I am interested in both when it comes to cinema. Having a constant affair with memes and curious about a lot of things ranging from the age-old folk tales to the browsing history of the class toppers. If Tsundoku is an art, I am one of the artists.