This website is a work-in-progress by Laurent Dubois, David Garner, and Mary Caton Lingold of Duke University. Our goal is to showcase our research on the history of the banjo in the Afro-Atlantic world, including historical documents, visual materials, material objects, and musical transcription and analysis. We focus particularly on Haiti and Louisiana, but also provide information from other areas along with the transcriptions of a wide range of banjo music.
Writing the history of the banjo, especially of its early formation as an instrument, poses important challenges. We have to return to the period of the 17th through the early 19th century, and to work from fragments to reconstruct what we can about the construction, sound, and social and cultural meaning of the instrument.
In recent years there has been a proliferation of excellent research on the early history of the banjo. For a detailed investigation of some of the West African instruments that inspired the construction of the New World banjo, and an interpretations of the early history of the banjo, you can visit Shlomo Pescoe’s three excellent Facebook pages: Banjo Roots, Banjo Roots: West Africa, and Banjo Roots: World Banjo…
Read the rest. The site breaks banjology into five parts:
Featured Image Credit: Ezio Bassani, ed., Un Cappuccino nell’Africa nera del seicento: I disegni dei Manoscritti Araldi del Padre Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo [A Capuchin in Black Africa in the Seventeenth Century: Drawings of the Araldi Manuscript of Father Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo] (Milan: Quaderni Poro, no. 4, 1987), plate 19. as shown on http://www.slaveryimages.org, compiled by Jerome Handler and Michael Tuite, and sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. First seen on Banjology here. (Click for details)