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Bonja Song

Posted by Mike Moss, written by arranged by Alan V Middleton


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- Play count: 402

Size: 1,620kb, uploaded 5/7/2013 9:13:50 AM
Genre: Other / Playing Style: Classic

The "Bonja Song" is the first piece of printed music ever to mention the banjo. Published in the UK circa 1800, it is earlier than minstrelsy and it confirms that the banjo, or banjo-like instruments, was associated with Africans and their music at the time. This is also confirmed in period artwork, such as the "old plantation" painting. It was marketed as a genuine black folk song, though this is unlikely, as the lyrics are the usual condescending, racist and paternalistic fare of the times, though it is less hateful than many later minstrel songs. The melody, however, falls admirably on the banjo strings, as can be seen in the original piano sheet music. Could it be that the melody was indeed originally played on the banjo? We will never know. This little ditty remains, however, an important part of the musical history of the banjo. This has been arranged for the banjo for the first time by Alan V. Middleton, in his book "Early Minstrel Music for the Five-String Banjo", available from Clifford Essex:, and printed in both notation and tab. This is not a book about "minstrel banjo", but rather, a compilation of music from the time arranged for Classic style five-string banjo.

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