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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Hi Jody!  I'd like to discuss out of order.

2)  We are in total agreement.  No conspiracy of repression.  It is the looking for history under and around the history book that I don't get.  There was a generation or two who wanted to learn about banjo history and looked everywhere but right in front of them.  What was right in font of them did not fit into the nostalgia they hoped to find.  It does not bother me, the quest I am on is to understand why.  What, or more likely who, was the cause of the nostalgia fad.  I am sure there was one.  There is always a start to a fad.

3) Get out your copy of the "Earl Sgruggs" book and reread the "History of America's Favorite Folk Instrument" and the introduction by Dr. Nat Winston.  Sometimes it is worth a refresher on just how terrible and full of errors that was.  It was wrong.

1)  I am sure you are right that people believed Sweeney added the 5th (short string).

The story comes form J. Henning who tracked down the "Sweeney banjo" from a friend of the family in Appomattox named Inge.  The story of the Sweeney banjo was published in Converse's 7th letter.  Most of the story comes from the Sweeney family.  It is from that collection of interviews that included local farmers that we got the story that Sweeney learned how to play the instrument constructed by the slaves that "used to take a large gourd, attach a stick for a staff, and put on 4 strings made of horse hair."  And that he would experiment and build different versions of it.  

But we have also known for a very long time that the short string was around longer than Sweeney was.

I  like agreement.  

Whose nostalgia for *what* are you referring to?   Although anything at all may be played using classic banjo technique the core repertoire is in the style of early 20th century pop music.  Surely nostalgia kept the members of ABF and BMI going. People tend to respond positively to the pop music of their teenage years. By contrast the folk revivals in the USA and in the UK and Ireland  had little to do with nostalgia. On the east side of the Atlantic nationalism and a sense of self-worth were factors along with the curiosity and enthusiasm of discovering unsuspected treasure in one's own backyard. In England there were songs and dances in 5/4 and various kinds of 9.   Scotland was able to affirm cultural continuity.  Ireland, Wales and Cornwall each have their own unique story in respect to re-discovered old music.    In America it was commercial country music and early bluegrass that had a nostalgic element in the song words, But musically new ground was being broken.  Back over in the UK there were some songs with agrarian themes in the words but so many new songs came out of the Industrial Revolution. New words, very topical, anything but nostalgic, but the musical style was a continuation of older musical ways.  Meanwhile the American folk revivals of the 50s and 60s had social and political concerns fueling it but I think the main motive of participating amateur (and pro) musicians was simply that they liked the songs and tunes and the sound of acoustic instruments.  Where does nostalgia come into it?



Joel Hooks said:

Hi Jody!  I'd like to discuss out of order.

2)  We are in total agreement.  No conspiracy of repression.  It is the looking for history under and around the history book that I don't get.  There was a generation or two who wanted to learn about banjo history and looked everywhere but right in front of them.  What was right in font of them did not fit into the nostalgia they hoped to find.  It does not bother me, the quest I am on is to understand why.  What, or more likely who, was the cause of the nostalgia fad.  I am sure there was one.  There is always a start to a fad.

3) Get out your copy of the "Earl Sgruggs" book and reread the "History of America's Favorite Folk Instrument" and the introduction by Dr. Nat Winston.  Sometimes it is worth a refresher on just how terrible and full of errors that was.  It was wrong.

1)  I am sure you are right that people believed Sweeney added the 5th (short string).

The story comes form J. Henning who tracked down the "Sweeney banjo" from a friend of the family in Appomattox named Inge.  The story of the Sweeney banjo was published in Converse's 7th letter.  Most of the story comes from the Sweeney family.  It is from that collection of interviews that included local farmers that we got the story that Sweeney learned how to play the instrument constructed by the slaves that "used to take a large gourd, attach a stick for a staff, and put on 4 strings made of horse hair."  And that he would experiment and build different versions of it.  

But we have also known for a very long time that the short string was around longer than Sweeney was.

I just like the music!...Steve.

I do too, Steve. That's the primary driver for most of us anyway.

Still, I think Joel's 'nostalgia' starts with, bored young people who accidently hear something different. They've been fed the pap of popular music and been beaten with classical until their eyes are crossed. They accidently run across 'other' music and after falling in love, go on a quest to justify (and possibly legitimize) their new love. I think we can all relate to that experience, I've certainly been thru it...and I don't think it is limited to music.

When this 'new' music is not routinely available, there is a process of discovery...a quest that one must go on. Driven individuals might actually make this quest their life's work. The problem I have with this is that it is very easy to get carried away in the process and lose perspective. Objective proof is often the first to go...and once hearsay has a foot in the door, it becomes truth. Nostalgia is simply deciding to view your data thru a snow-globe (often a distorted one at that) and coming to a conclusion that may very well be similarly distorted.

Sorry...I'm talking outta my hat. Bored kids again (well, mentally I'm still a kid).   

Nostalgia:  a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or a place with happy personal associations.

i like any banjos of the  " small advertisements " ; i have nostalgia ' bout these …...

Either I'm a bit thick headed today or something is lost in translation. Are you talking about BMG ads? Encore une fois en Français s'il vous plait ?

marc dalmasso said:

i like any banjos of the  " small advertisements " ; i have nostalgia ' bout these …...

I agree with Marc...

I have nostalgia for the good old days when you could buy a Weaver banjo for a few UK Pounds ;-)

oui , j 'ai la nostalgie quand je lis les petites annonces de BMG

The whole concept of "folk music" is based in nostalgia.  The presentation form that it took when it became a fad was pure nostalgic.

In the April 1972 issue there is an arrangement of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" for banjo that is complete.  This is a nice change from the stripped down (harmony-less) version that has become a banjo cliche (perhaps since Pete Seeger started playing it?).  If one was so inclined to go "baroque."

Thanks Marc and Ian. Now I understand.



marc dalmasso said:

oui , j 'ai la nostalgie quand je lis les petites annonces de BMG

I don't agree, Joel.  Folk music is living tradition. Real folk music looks back, forward, and is in the present moment. Take a look at Cape Breton fiddle music as particularly vivid example.  Not only were the old Gaelic melodies passed on via the fiddle and voice, but eventually newly composed tunes outnumbered the old ones. At the same time the entire repertoire of 19th century tune books was learned via staff notation.  Microphones and pickups are used when necessary and ignored when not.  Nostalgia is nowhere to be seen. The old folks made it plain. A paraphrase: when we first came here from Scotland the only difference between us and our sheep is that we knew which field they'd be grazing in the next day. Life was tough. I'd never willingly go back to those conditions.  

That's just one example.  Everywhere there is traditional music (folk music) the situation is the same. No one is looking back to an imagined golden age. The music is sung and played because it viable and compelling and beautiful.  

Folk *songs* (as opposed to tunes) are topical. The same manner of expression and the same types of melodic movement are recycled over and over to address current conditions.  If that is nostalgic then so is eating, sleeping, and drinking water.  Folk music is the act of not discarding what is still viable. 

The presentation form (good way of putting it!) in the fad days was pure pop. Pop is always about Now.  I wonder if we are talking about the same thing.

I have been playing banjo and have been amongst banjo players for a bit more than 60 years. i have lived on both coasts and visited the center and the south and north many times.  Not once I have I heard "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" played on the banjo.   I can't imagine why you think it is a cliche. 

Joel Hooks said:

The whole concept of "folk music" is based in nostalgia.  The presentation form that it took when it became a fad was pure nostalgic.

In the April 1972 issue there is an arrangement of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" for banjo that is complete.  This is a nice change from the stripped down (harmony-less) version that has become a banjo cliche (perhaps since Pete Seeger started playing it?).  If one was so inclined to go "baroque."

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