Banjo music has a long and rich history in the United States, with enthusiasts from coast to coast, even stretching across the Atlantic to England. That started with “classic” banjo music. The Golden Age of the banjo was from approximately 1880-1920, and banjos made during this time period can sell for up to 1,000 times their original prices.
Value of the instruments aside, the music itself is highly prized by a group of musicians dedicated to its preservation and playing. The banjo enthusiasts of the American Banjo Fraternity keep classic banjo music alive by playing the music and acting as a resource for its members and the public.
What is Classic Banjo Music?
If you are interested in playing classic banjo music, you should know that it developed after the American Civil War. Descended from the minstrel shows of this time period, banjo music eventually became a national craze. This led to the development of banjo orchestras, along with new instruments to fill out the range of sounds available for the composers of the time. These instruments were strung with animal skin heads and gut strings, and they were played by finger-picking musicians. The banjo enthusiasts of the American Banjo Fraternity continue to play in this style, although many today use nylon strings and synthetic heads on their 5-string banjos.
Members of this group have the opportunity to join other like-minded musicians at two annual rallies, where only classic banjo music is played. Membership also includes access to a bi-annual publication along with a massive library holding thousands of classic banjo music pieces. If you have ever wanted the rare opportunity to play in a banjo orchestra, you will get your chance with the American Banjo Fraternity.
Banjos play an important role in many different American music forms, including bluegrass, Dixieland jazz, and country music. Classic banjo music stands alone as one form dedicated entirely to compositions written solely for the banjo. The banjo enthusiasts of the American Banjo Fraternity continue to cherish this music and keep it alive for this and future generations.