• Kyle Gray Young

Viva La America! Banjo music from the 1860s!

Happy Inauguration Day, USA!

Recently I've been learning how to transcribe banjo music from the earliest known books in the middle of the 19th century. I only have a modern 5-string banjo, so these tunes aren't accessible except with the use of tablature. The old time "minstrel" banjo was tuned a minor third lower than our modern C tuning of gCGBD.

I have ten tunes from Buckley's Banjo Guide of 1868 freshly transcribed in modern tablature for both C and G tuning. At the bottom of each page is the original version for your perusal. On a couple of them, I made minor edits that didn't make sense in the originals. These are by no means meant to replace any edition of these tunes, to teach you how to play in the original "stroke" style, or anything like that. These are simply made to bring them to the music stand of a more casual banjo player who hasn't had the chance to play early banjo music such as this.

As Pete Seeger supposedly said: "there's no wrong way to play a banjo." I prefer playing these in "guitar style", that is with the flesh of my right hand fingers. Please take this free sample of three of the tunes. And please consider coming back to purchase the full PDF of 10 selections for only $3. You can hear complete MIDI renditions on Soundcloud of my arrangements. I'm happy to take requests for other pieces from this book or other early banjo books.

Speaking of other banjo books, here's a free preview of a piece that I transcribed from a different book of James Buckley's. This one is a bit earlier from 1860. I couldn't help but giggle (and toot) at the title of this one. I hope you enjoy this quirky number too!

Unsworth's Giggle Toot PDF download.

Download the original Buckley Banjo Guide of 1868 at archive.org. Click here to go directly to the PDF. Tim Twiss is one of the world's leading early banjo experts. He has several PDFs available for free download as well. I've also learned quite a bit from Rob MacKillop over the years and greatly value his approach to early banjo music.

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you'd like to play next! And don't forget to tag me on social media if you upload a performance of any of my arrangements here. I'd love to hear them and feature you on my blog!


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