Comment by thereallyniceman on March 26, 2023 at 18:03

Very interesting Rob. I have never managed to get a nice sound out of a zither banjo. I am just too heavy handed I guess!

Comment by Rob MacKillop on March 26, 2023 at 20:06
Cheers, Ian. It helps if you first cover fingers and strings in lard ;-) I forgot to mention that in the video!
Comment by Richard William Ineson on March 27, 2023 at 10:27

Ian, you have to get yourself into a very relaxed state of mind before you even pick a zither banjo up. We don't know what Cammeyer was smoking when he composed some of his deeper pieces but it was certainly very effective. You also need to perfect the 'rolling of the eyes', the 'heavy sighs'. the 'lifting of the right hand to head level after every note', the 'long, silent pauses' during the performance, the 'wandering about the stage with your chair before finally sitting down and commencing to improvise on your instrument before finally launching seamlessly into your programme',  The zither banjo is a way of life and you cannot switch between the 'ordinary' banjo and a zither at the drop of a hat, you must live and breathe the genre. 

Comment by Rob MacKillop on March 27, 2023 at 11:03

Haha. I need to do a follow-up video! 

Comment by Richard William Ineson on March 27, 2023 at 11:24

Bernard Sheaff, who was Cammeyer's 2nd banjo player, but probably the better musician ( he orchestrated Cam''s more complicated pieces such as 'Danse Bizarre', 'Marche en Passant' etc.) commented that Cam would emit deep groans, for no obvious reason, whilst playing, this is something else which could be developed in your follow up video.

Comment by Joel Hooks on March 27, 2023 at 13:09

Cammeyer was smoking cigarettes. 

Comment by Jake Glanville on April 12, 2023 at 17:04

Lovely piece of playing, Rob.  Thank you so much for putting this on.  It's the perfect response to all those lost souls who, enchanted by their superior ignorance, make unkind comments about the sound and playability of zither-banjos!  I always advise them to listen to you, or Carrie Horgan.

Almost certainly the instrument you are using is one made by William Temlett Snr.  I have a couple myself, both almost identical to the one you are playing, including one owned by Tarrant Bailey -maybe not your style of playing but I can't see someone like him, nor King Edward VII when he was Prince of Wales, having an instrument that produced an inferior sound.

My 1896 copy of the Barnes & Mullins banjo tutor does have 'zither' banjo on it.  Maybe yours is later and by that time in England, the zither-banjo was the only banjo and it wasn't necessary to make a distinction.

Happy Banjoing!


Comment by Rob MacKillop on April 12, 2023 at 18:03

Thanks, Jake. Appreciated. The sound of the ZB is indeed an acquired taste, which only those of us who are elite human beings can appreciate. Glad you liked the video. 

Comment by Jake Glanville on April 12, 2023 at 20:26

Thanks once more, Rob.

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