I thought it WAS common knowledge that the banjo is an African import.
As I recollect it goes even further back than that as the banjo is
related to certain Indian stringed instruments which migrated along
trade routes from India to east Africa, across the continent, and thus
to the US.
The first American innovation was the fifth string.
The first five string banjo was fretless and left-handed, I've seen a
picture of it. The maker made it for his daughter. Please take all this
with a grain of salt - I'm going by memory of a paper I wrote 40 years
ago so please don't ask for references! Ms. Epstein can no doubt fill in
the blanks. She will also correct me, I'm sure.
On 4/24/2013 5:21 AM, Nelson-Strauss, Brenda wrote:
> I'm pleased to forward this message about a new film featuring a dear friend and colleague, the indefatigable Dena Epstein.
> Brenda Nelson-Strauss
> From: Michael Ochs [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 10:43 AM
> To: MLA-L submit; AMS-L submit; [log in to unmask]; iaml-l digest recipients; [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [MLA-L] The Librarian and the Banjo
> Apologies for cross-posting.
> THE LIBRARIAN AND THE BANJO is the title of a new film about the life and legacy of music librarian and musicologist Dena Epstein. In studying the history of slave music in the United States, Dena documented that, contrary to popular opinion, the banjo was brought to this country by slaves. The 56-minute documentary was premiered April 14 at the Wisconsin Film Festival to excellent reviews and will soon be available on DVD. Further information may be found at the Web site of the film's maker, Jim Carrier (http://jimcarrier.com/). Dena's biography and a list of her publications appears in Grove Music Online.
> Michael Ochs