Here’s a holiday wish (and especially a big thank-you) to the administrator of this site, Ian, for maintaining such an impeccably polite, richly informative and overall welcoming ePlace to talk/post/discuss all things fingerstyle banjo.

Pursuant to this goal, below is a scan of the very first issue of “The Banjo World,” a notoriously rare UK publication, of which I'd personally never seen a copy until recent dealings with a South African book dealer changed things for me. Making this first issue particularly interesting (aside from its profile of Clifford Essex, its notes about the British banjo world of the early 1890s and a mention of Isaac Disraeli in the first paragraph) is the Essex-reported “first app” of Joe Morley’s published work with “Sandown Schottische” — see pages 6 and 7, with a pointed introductory note to the composer on page 13.

Attendant to this, and probably even more interesting, are two more pages from the January 1896 issue which must count as if not the first — then certainly one of the first — printed biographies of Morley, with a photograph which to my knowledge has never seen since its appearance here 122 years ago. (In addition to the pdf, I’m also attaching an isolated jpeg of the photograph alone for anyone who’d like that alone.)

So happiest of holidays, Ian, and all my many thanks for making this site such a congenial and well-organized place to visit and talk about our shared inexplicable obsession, the fingerstyle/guitar/classic banjo. And of course the same to everyone else, as well!

All warmest of wishes from the USA, as the old BMG logo graphically suggests,

Chris W.

Banjo World Vol 1 No 1 — Nov 1893.pdf

Morley — The Banjo World Jan 1896.pdf

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Ditto! Many times over for Mr & Mrs reallynicepeople.

Thank you so much for the time and effort in making this a comfortable place for us CB whackos.

And Chris, what a wonderful gift! Thank you!

I simply love the paragraph in "American Notes"'

"...They appear to have abandoned the idiotic manner of writing music for the banjo a third lower than it is actually played. We have wondered why the Americans, so go-ahead in most things, have clung to this absurdity, for which they can offer no valid excuse."

LOL. I guess that pretty much nails that!

Cheers to one and all and best wishes for a great New Year!

===Marc

Re what Chris and Marc said about reallynicefolk, I wholeheartedly concur.

Re "American Notes", I halfheartedly disagree. For a newcomer to the banjo to learn A notation in order to play in C tuning would be pointless. But for a banjo player who learned to read A notation in order to play in A tuning, and who then changed tuning to C tuning to keep up with the times, continuing to read in A notation is perfectly sensible. The relationship between the strings is identical in the two tunings so there would be no discrepancy between what is read, fingered, and heard.

I also disagree as to who the real idiot is. First of all there is no fixed pitch called C or A. Even today 440 is not the universal standard in top Symphony Orchestras. Secondly, many instruments use notation that does not represent the actual pitch of their instrument. According to the logic of "American Notes" all British clarinet players then and now are idiots.



Trapdoor2 said:

Ditto! Many times over for Mr & Mrs reallynicepeople.

Thank you so much for the time and effort in making this a comfortable place for us CB whackos.

And Chris, what a wonderful gift! Thank you!

I simply love the paragraph in "American Notes"'

"...They appear to have abandoned the idiotic manner of writing music for the banjo a third lower than it is actually played. We have wondered why the Americans, so go-ahead in most things, have clung to this absurdity, for which they can offer no valid excuse."

LOL. I guess that pretty much nails that!

Cheers to one and all and best wishes for a great New Year!

===Marc

That's lovely, thank you Chris. And entirely agree about our Ian too.

Chris!  Amazing!  I've read comments about Banjo World in the SSS Journals, but I've not seen an issue.

Thanks!

RE: A notation, that bit also jumped out at me.  Marc beat me to the comment.  But I would still like to add my interpretation as to the clinging.

I agree with Jody but feel there was also financial motivation.  SSS was the first to sell printed sheet music for the banjo.  He was operating his own presses and had plates engraved.  When he started his business in 1878 "A" was still it (with many "pros" using "B flat").  So he started selling hand written music in A later published instruction books and music in A.  That is a big investment!  It also set the standard.

Just a few years later (about 82 or 83) it became actual "C"-- by that time he already had many numbers published in A (from engraved plates).  There were already a slew of books and folios published-- all of which would need to be scrapped.

It would have been bad business to change right when the banjo became hot.  You don't make your own inventory obsolete.

Now, the Brits "found the banjo" (by this I mean it became a popular fad) after C was common.  This was also a convenient way to dodge copyright infringement as one could transpose and call it an "arrangement"... for example the following titles on the back page.

No 4 Darkies' Patrol arr. by Essex (no mention of Lansing or Gatcomb)

No 5, same

No 14 "By A. D. Cammeyer" -- really?

+more

But, we've kinda beat this drum before.

I found that it was not difficult to learn to read in C after learning A-- and the transition would have been easier had I had lessons.  Now I can go both ways.

That said, A was still published in the US into the 1920s!  I even have some MS from the ABF that was written in A in the 1950s.  Whatever works.

Thanks again Chris and Ian!

A Merry Christmas to everyone, but especially to Ian and Lynn, and many thanks to Chris for making these fascinating pages from the BANJO WORLD magazine available to us all. 

No. 14 was written by Cammeyer, it's a different 'Cocoanut Dance' to the one written by Hermann, E&C did rip off the American composers and publishers, Stewart complained about it in his journal, but not this tune, the 'Love and Beauty Waltzes' were written by Armstrong I think, E&C published them as being by Newberry.

Joel Hooks said:

Chris!  Amazing!  I've read comments about Banjo World in the SSS Journals, but I've not seen an issue.

Thanks!

RE: A notation, that bit also jumped out at me.  Marc beat me to the comment.  But I would still like to add my interpretation as to the clinging.

I agree with Jody but feel there was also financial motivation.  SSS was the first to sell printed sheet music for the banjo.  He was operating his own presses and had plates engraved.  When he started his business in 1878 "A" was still it (with many "pros" using "B flat").  So he started selling hand written music in A later published instruction books and music in A.  That is a big investment!  It also set the standard.

Just a few years later (about 82 or 83) it became actual "C"-- by that time he already had many numbers published in A (from engraved plates).  There were already a slew of books and folios published-- all of which would need to be scrapped.

It would have been bad business to change right when the banjo became hot.  You don't make your own inventory obsolete.

Now, the Brits "found the banjo" (by this I mean it became a popular fad) after C was common.  This was also a convenient way to dodge copyright infringement as one could transpose and call it an "arrangement"... for example the following titles on the back page.

No 4 Darkies' Patrol arr. by Essex (no mention of Lansing or Gatcomb)

No 5, same

No 14 "By A. D. Cammeyer" -- really?

+more

But, we've kinda beat this drum before.

I found that it was not difficult to learn to read in C after learning A-- and the transition would have been easier had I had lessons.  Now I can go both ways.

That said, A was still published in the US into the 1920s!  I even have some MS from the ABF that was written in A in the 1950s.  Whatever works.

Thanks again Chris and Ian!

Ian, please accept my belated Christmas wishes to you and your wife as well, and please tell your wife that I hope she is well, and that I think she is a beautiful woman and a WONDERFUL pianist! 

(Of course, you are a beautiful man, yourself, Ian!)

I am frequently thankful and in some awe that there is a place like this to come and learn and associate with similar minded friends, and sometimes, I am in wonderment that you put the work in for this site that you do....I realize it is much work and time....obviously, you love this music and this instrument.

Chris-WOW....WHAT A WONDERFUL GIFT!  Thank you!

I found just today before reading this post that I have a copy of the first page only of the Banjo World interview with Vess Ossman, and realized I had forgot about this publication.

I'd love to find page 2....of course, the whole issue...well...ALL the issues !

I think the Ossman interview is June 1900.  Can't remember for sure the month but I think so.

My classic banjo things are so unorganized, I'll have to find it again to confirm.

Anyway, New Year's marching orders for all is find page 2!

In the meantime, I hope everyone here had a Happy Christmas, and I wish all a Prosperous New Year and Limber Fingers!

Chris

Ian, I must count myself among Jody's idiot clarinet players.....please for me wish your son a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I appreciate very much the time and expertise he extends and the work that he does to help keep the site beautiful and functional.

Chris

Dear Ian (and Lynn!)

Since my unintentional yet unforgivable neglect in citing and thanking your Really Nice Wife in my original post has been indirectly highlighted many times now, my belated warm wishes of gratitude (and apologies) to Lynn as well. And, happiest of New Years to you both!

Very best,

C.

OK, I've keyed in both 5-string banjo pieces from this issue, here are the MIDI files so you can hear them.

Neither of these are exceptional, I find. In fact, both have their problems. I have tried to not modify either (sticking to the published dots) so what you hear is what they are (as squeezed thru a computer, of course).

"Sandown Schottische" is not a bad little ditty but I think Ol' Joe had one too many for the Trio...odd chords in there.

"En Route" is a little better but that third strain just doesn't sound 'right' to me. Kind of 'tacked on'.

I do have TAB for these...but "En Route" is a bit of a mess with all the triplet-roll grace notes, my program doesn't support them and I had to 'fake' them in.

Attachments:

Dear Marc,

Jeez, many thanks for doing this! Nice to hear them, at least, even if they won't knock Beethoven off his mantel. The Cammeyer one isn't so bad, actually, and the Morley one is at least of interest, being the first claimed to be published by Essex (if the pages of "The Banjo World" count as publishing.)

Again, most grateful of regards, and happiest of new years,

C.

Chris,

You keep posting music I've never seen and I'll keep making MIDI files (and TAB) for them. These old magazines are a real window into the period. I enjoy seeing little things in this like the repeat signs with dots on each space (instead of just two dots). It makes me wonder what drove them to change the sign (probably simple economics, two dots is cheaper to print than 4).

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