AfriGeneas Heritage Arts & Crafts Forum
Banjo’s slavery links explored
Banjo’s slavery links explored by Laurent Dubois
from the austrailian..
Watch any YouTube clip of the legendary banjoist Earl Scruggs and his band playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown and you will see a host of America’s most skilful banjo pickers. What you are unlikely to see, either on stage or in the audience, is a black face — which is strange, given the banjo’s origins as the instrument of African slaves. How this happened is the question at the heart of Laurent Dubois’s riveting history of the banjo.
His tale begins in 10th-century Spain, with a biblical illustration of 16 lutes played by 16 saints. These, however, are not your everyday lutes, made of carved wood with a hole beneath the strings. The saintly lutes have oval bodies covered with stretched animal skins that would have imparted a distinctive hum or buzz. This difference, according to Dubois, makes the saints not lute players but banjoists.
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[This is a very interesting article,
above painting attributed to john rose
History detectives, the african banjo /akonting episode