The banjo is a musical instrument that was brought or made by the Africans that were enslaved along with their descendants back in earlier times in colonial North America and the Caribbean. The African people maintained and conserved the tradition even when they were known to be in a complex system of urban as well as rural settings, plantations, and camps of slave labor. In the early 17th century and throughout the 1830s this instrument was known to belong to the tradition of the African-American having a heritage of the West Africans. The banjo instrument did not entirely come from Africa rather it was created with a mixture of both European and West African traditions by the enslaved Africans.
The banjo is an instrument that bears similar features to that of a guitar. The banjo has a form that is best documented to look like a drum where its body is generally made out of calabash or in other words a gourd. It consists of a neck that includes four strings wherein three of the four are long strings and the other one is short. The long ones run along the length of the instrument (full) whereas the short one usually stops halfway. So, since it is a blended form of West Africa and Europe, the drum-like part with the different strings of various lengths, originates from the African tradition whereas the tuning pegs along with the flat fingerboard are generally obtained from the European traditions. Hence, the origin of this instrument is basically an attribute of both traditions i.e., the European and African traditions, and not of the Africans alone and this can be seen only from the designs of such an instrument. The banjo is still played in many parts of the world to date by various musicians. It is a very fun and interesting instrument to play and the one that knows how to play the guitar can transfer the skills of learning from the guitar to the banjo instrument and vice versa. This can be a similar trend when dealing with other stringed musical instruments, fretted instruments, and many other instruments available.
Banjo Instrument Sound
As mentioned in the previous section, the banjo consists of a part that is more or less like a drum with a neck consisting of strings that are further stretched apart. There is a bridge that mainly supports the strings to the drum membrane which is generally very thin having the bridge fixed to a board. While playing the banjo, when one plucks the string, there is a resonation in the drum and vibration in the bridge thereby producing a sound. The pluck in a banjo is considerably louder compared to the of a guitar pluck. The main reason for this is that the head of the banjo vibrates more. One can easily modulate the instrument’s frequency by creating a change in the string tension. As the strings vibrate, the tension on the string of the plucked banjo changes making the bridge also vibrate.
There is a change in the tension twice, from:
1. The initial pluck and
2. The motion of the bridge.
The change in the frequency modulation makes the bright and twangy sound of the Banjo.
There are some banjo instructors that suggested that it will approximately take almost 2,000 hours to learn the basics of the banjo. By this time, the learner would have learned many things about the banjo and how to play with it. A given time of 2000 hours is a good solid time for one to play the Banjo instrument easily and smoothly.
Banjo Instrument Guide
Learning to play the banjo instrument is not easy as it seems. It is hard, especially for beginners where learning the basics itself is quite a task. Before going deep into other levels and skills of playing it the individuals need to master first the basics. Not only that learning how to fluently play requires daily practice, a lot of effort, determination, and consistency. With daily practice, the learner can get used to the instrument and it is one form of physical exercise which needs repetitive exercises. However, when considering other instruments, it is a bit easier to learn compared to other instruments. The basics of this instrument are easier to learn in comparison to other instruments. One can take lesson classes and also practice playing it on a regular basis for at most a year so that one can learn how to play and read music using the banjo instrument.
Learning the instrument does have several challenges. However, if one has the urge and passion to learn nothing is impossible. In comparison to other stringed instruments, the banjo is not the hardest to learn and one can master the basics within a year. With the right approach, one can take lessons, get a good source of teaching be it offline or online, be regular in learning, and in no time one can fluently play it.
It is also a fun instrument to play with and it is also interesting. The best part about learning this instrument is one can play many songs and enjoy their time and if someone is serious about playing it not just a hobby, one can become a teacher and teach interested people. There are many online classes that give lessons and not just that, free online videos are easily available in today’s era where with just a proper internet connection and a suitable electronic device, one click can help one with the lessons for free.
Here are some points that one needs to know before learning the banjo instrument:
1. Learning banjo requires a lot of dedication and daily practice.
2. It is easier to learn as its strings are thinner compared to that of a guitar or a ukulele making the strings much easier to fret. Hence, one’s fingers will hurt less.
3. If one has played other stringed instruments that one will find the banjo easy to learn.
4. The music sheet of the banjo instrument is mostly written in tabular form which is easier for the person to read.
There are different types of Banjo depending on the size, quality, and color and so is the banjo price. The average price of a banjo ranges from about $50 – $3,000 and it may increase. The demand for Banjo instruments keeps on increasing. The cost of a lower-end model which is generally purchased by beginners consists of a kit whose cost ranges between $150 – $300 A good one with better quality and sound would definitely cost higher in the range of $300 – $500. A solid and best-quality banjo would cost above $500.
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