Recently site member and fine banjo player of many styles, John Field from the UK, died and one his wishes was that his collection of BMGs should be made available to all who want to read the world famous magazine for the Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar player.

 

John’s collection is not complete but stretches from 1925 to when the BMG publishing company went into liquidation in 1976.

 

All the monthly copies that he had have been scanned and are now available for download. There are gaps but if you are able to help fill them with scanned copies of BMGs that you are willing to share, please contact me.

 

Click on the menu at the top of the page and then on a magazine front cover to download as a PDF file, you can now read articles from the great players of the time featuring news, tips, comments and suggestions. Also there are music scores available in each magazine for all styles of banjo playing (and Mandolin and Guitar!).

They are a fun and really interesting look back in time...ENJOY !

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A great tribute to John Field and a wonderful idea creating The John Field Memorial BMG Library.

This is quite a big deal (well to me anyway).  Can we pull together and fill in the gaps back to 1903?

I am hoping to find some answers in this collection. One of the great puzzles is when TAB became a thing.  I have read that Mel Bay's promotion of it might have had an impact.

Since publications in the US have been locked away due to the Mickey Mouse Protection Act I have not been able to get access to a lot of documentation post 1923.

It is interesting that, at least on the other side of the pond, there was still plenty of classic banjo articles and music supplements published during a time time when we have been told that it was nothing but hillbillys flumping around and waiting for the banjo savior Earl to emerge and "revolutionize" the banjo.

This was also amazing to me Joel. I think the quote from Pogo is apt here: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

We banjoists have been particularly insular. We have hidden away and allowed this genre to become lost (over here) for too long.

I started indexing the music last night. Basic excel spreadsheet. If anyone has already done this...let me know so I don't duplicate effort.

GREAT Ian  ; thx

What a gift!  It is a great resource for a lot of music from that time period, on both sides of the water.  Thank you John, Thank you Ian, and Trap, thanks for compiling an index. 

Wow!

I have noticed that the link to this collection doesn’t work. The only way I am able to get to it is via the email you sent. 

Jackie, are you going to the menu section which includes the Home and Discussion pages at the top of the page -- the last item should be the John Field Collection.

Jackie and Edward, thanks for the information. 

We are currently having  a problem with the NING servers that NING are currently trying to fix. This fault prevents the HOME page from loading correctly, BUT not all the time and only on some browsers and for some users ! 

This has been a random problem so the bug is taking sometime to locate and fix it at NING.

All I can do is wait and hope!

Ian

As we are reading through these issues I would like to request that people keep an eye out for a couple of things.

First use of "folk" and the banjo.  Also first reference to the banjo and Appalachia (I have been reading random issues and saw the Appalachia connection in a later issue so it becomes a thing at some point).

When TAB becomes a thing.  As I go through these I have read some arguments on changing the edits in notation.  For example, one such argument wants to change the LH fingerings to the fret numbers.  There are also discussions on making notation easy to sightread for fast dance music.  To me these changes would make it harder but I am used to the regular system.

Thanks in advance.

Joel,

From what I've seen, there is pretty much a blank in TAB from the Brooks & Denton Gems #1 (1893) to Pete Seeger's 1948 "How To Play The 5-String Banjo". Pete's book was so influential (and his version of TAB was very well thought out, though not as complete as today's) that most of the US tutors began using it by the 1960's. Scruggs used it in his 1967 book (with notation by Bill Keith) and the flood of books in the 70's and on took it on whole heartedly (no notation).

I might suggest looking among the early tenor tutors for tablature. That's where I would expect to find it hiding. I wonder if John Hoft has seen any in his exploration of the tenor?

Right now, I'm looking at the BMG's pub. of Morely's "Slip Along Polka" (BMG Jan 1927) and they use fret numbers for the higher, more difficult notes. In my mind, this is nothing more than slipping in a hint of tab for people who have trouble reading ledger lines above the staff.

I also have noticed that the Ukulele pieces in BMG contain chord grids (which is typical of Uke publications). Why do you suppose the Uke developed grids? Couldn't Uke players be taught notation? Of course, I'm being half-facetious there. The Uke was a new (fad) instrument and players wanted to play NOW. Chord grids helped (I use 'em too) and off they went.

Joel Hooks said:

When TAB becomes a thing.  As I go through these I have read some arguments on changing the edits in notation.  For example, one such argument wants to change the LH fingerings to the fret numbers.  There are also discussions on making notation easy to sightread for fast dance music.  To me these changes would make it harder but I am used to the regular system.

Hi Joel, I've been adding fret numbers and position indicators to my scores for quite a few years, mainly for my own benefit as with such a large number of arrangements, it's impossible to commit them all to memory, consequently I sight read most of them and I find the fret numbers are a useful aide memoire for tunes that I haven't played in a while. They may also be a help to those who are learning standard notation....Steve.

Trapdoor2 said:

Joel,

From what I've seen, there is pretty much a blank in TAB from the Brooks & Denton Gems #1 (1893) to Pete Seeger's 1948 "How To Play The 5-String Banjo". Pete's book was so influential (and his version of TAB was very well thought out, though not as complete as today's) that most of the US tutors began using it by the 1960's. Scruggs used it in his 1967 book (with notation by Bill Keith) and the flood of books in the 70's and on took it on whole heartedly (no notation).

I might suggest looking among the early tenor tutors for tablature. That's where I would expect to find it hiding. I wonder if John Hoft has seen any in his exploration of the tenor?

Right now, I'm looking at the BMG's pub. of Morely's "Slip Along Polka" (BMG Jan 1927) and they use fret numbers for the higher, more difficult notes. In my mind, this is nothing more than slipping in a hint of tab for people who have trouble reading ledger lines above the staff.

I also have noticed that the Ukulele pieces in BMG contain chord grids (which is typical of Uke publications). Why do you suppose the Uke developed grids? Couldn't Uke players be taught notation? Of course, I'm being half-facetious there. The Uke was a new (fad) instrument and players wanted to play NOW. Chord grids helped (I use 'em too) and off they went.

Joel Hooks said:

When TAB becomes a thing.  As I go through these I have read some arguments on changing the edits in notation.  For example, one such argument wants to change the LH fingerings to the fret numbers.  There are also discussions on making notation easy to sightread for fast dance music.  To me these changes would make it harder but I am used to the regular system.

Thanks, but if one happens to notice the first mention of TAB and "folk banjo" in the BMG please make a note of it.  Thanks.

(You are supposed to include that TAB was used for lutes-- that is the go to answer.)

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