A Site Dedicated to all enthusiasts of Classic Style Banjo
Hello Everyone, forum newbie here.
I'm a composer and multi-instrumentalist whose main axe is guitar, but with such an inordinate fondness for banjo that I own several and have been playing them off and on for over 30 years.
I discovered your site by accident, and was much intrigued by the "9-pound banjo mute". :) But what really caught my eye was the statement, "...the vast majority is popular music, ragtime, and 'banjo music', or original music written specifically for the banjo" in the section devoted to classic banjo music.
While I've composed and performed music across the spectrum from Bach to Punk Rock and pretty much everything in between, I was bitten by the Ragtime bug in a big way about 16 years ago. Since then I've composed more than a hundred rags, mostly for piano, but also for guitar, banjo, mandolin, and a few less ubiquitous instruments like the xylophone and the caliope. I've also put considerable effort into researching the history of ragtime, and have pretty well established that the earliest ragtime was most likely banjo and guitar muisc, rather than the piano stylings most people think of as "ragtime" today. And I have been searching for examples of rags that were composed specifically, or at least initially for banjo and guitar.
This has proven something of a daunting task. Many, perhaps most, of those early rags were not written down or published, being most usually transmitted by ear. When the ragtime piano era became established, the vast majority of publishers devoted themselves to piano rags. Where rags for other instruments were published, most of them were arrangements of piano rags, adapted for other instruments. This continues to be true today, where most published books of "guitar rags", for example, are filled with transcriptions of Joplin, Scott, Lamb, Turpin, and other giants of piano ragtime -- but precious few actual guitar rags. I've run into the same thing with banjo rags.
I was therefore excited to discover at the classic-banjo site, a significant collection of rags for the banjo. Many of these are also arrangements, I note, and the names of piano composers pop up here and there. But there are some which do not bear an arranger's name, or for whom the arranger is a noted banjoist such as Van Eps, or Ossman, which leads me to believe that I may have found some clues to the ragtime 'holy grail' I've been seeking these many years.
It has been my good luck to have connected up with various web fora representing a huge wealth of musical knowledge and experience, and I strongly suspect I have found another such in the classic-banjo site. So I present my questions to the experts and learned amateurs here: Can anyone verify which, if any, of the rags currently residing in the site library were indeed originally written for the banjo? And can anyone here perhaps give me some pointers to any additional sources of information about ragtime compositions for banjo?
Thanks so much, in advance. Great site!