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America's Instrument: The Banjo in the Nineteenth-Centuryby Philip F. Gura
Synopses & Reviews
This handsome illustrated history traces the transformation of the banjo from primitive folk instrument to sophisticated musical machine and, in the process, offers a unique view of the music business in nineteenth-century America.
Philip Gura and James Bollman chart the evolution of "America's instrument," the five-stringed banjo, from its origins in the gourd instruments of enslaved Africans brought to the New World in the seventeenth century through its rise to the very pinnacle of American popular culture at the turn of the twentieth century. Throughout, they look at how banjo craftsmen and manufacturers developed, built, and marketed their products to an American public immersed in the production and consumption of popular music.
With over 250 illustrations—including rare period photographs, minstrel broadsides, sheet music covers, and banjo tutors and tune books— America's Instrument brings to life a fascinating aspect of American cultural history.
A landmark publication.
Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society America's Instrument lavishly details the banjo from the pegface to tailpiece hanger bolt.
Journal of American History A clear and extremely detailed account of the banjo in nineteenth-century America.
American Historical Review [This book] makes it clear that the banjo is an essential constituent of what Greil Marcus once called 'that old, weird America.
Times Literary Supplement We are given not only the rich history of the banjo but also a remarkable study of the American marketplace.
An illustrated history of 'America•s instrument," the five-stringed banjo, from its origins in the gourd instruments of enslaved Africans to the sophisticated musical machine so loved by Americans at the turn of the 20th century.
About the Author
Philip F. Gura is William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an old-time music enthusiast. James F. Bollman is co-owner and manager of the Music Emporium in Lexington, Massachusetts. He plays clawhammer banjo and has been collecting and researching banjos and banjo-related ephemera for more than thirty years.
Table of Contents
A Note on Early Photography
1. From the Plantation to the Stage: Bringing the Banjo to Market
2. An Expanding Market: The Dobson Brothers and the Rise of Banjo Culture
3. Selling the Banjo to All America: Philadelphia's S. S. Stewart
4. Manufacturing the Real Thing: Fairbanks, Cole, and the Golden Age of Boston Banjo Making
Selections of color illustrations follow pages.
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