Alfred D. Cammeyer (born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1862) was accredited with the invention of the zither banjo, and he then went to England to compose and perform ...

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Comment by Mike Moss on September 8, 2013 at 22:17

Brilliant. I've been working on this one and it's a lot trickier than it looks. A funny thing about this song is that the rhythm and harmonic progression somewhat reminds me of a Soviet song from the same period -- Komsoflotsky Marsch, often translated as "Forward, Red Marines". This confirms Richard Ineson's theory that the banjo was being used by red agents to infiltrate the cream of decadent imperialist society, where the banjo was very popular indeed.

Honestly, we need an arrangement of this. It would be hilarious.

Comment by TONY BRYAN on September 8, 2013 at 22:43
Two things, I suppose: I would like to knock on the head that there are some easy banjo solos and some difficult ones. This is, I think, an 'a' grade solo, i.e. one of the easy ones. In fact, even to get a decent recording with all the fluffs that this one contains is incredibly difficult. It still doesn't sound quite as I intended. No, they are a difficult to do properly, and my theory about the demise of the banjo is that it is an incredibly difficult instrument to play well.
Second point: I do have an 'A' level in Russian (not the easy end of the scale) and I can tell you that the title of the piece is "The Glorious Red Army". Hardly from the same period! If you were going to infiltrate the intelligentsia, you would be better off riding on the back of the penny whistle. The banjo was always doomed!
Comment by Jody Stecher on September 8, 2013 at 22:51

Good playing there, Tony.

Now speaking of decadent society, I've just finished reading Cammeyer's "My Adventuresome Banjo", or to be precise, I've read all of it that I care to. He was such an intelligent composer and such a vapid writer. It's all yachts and private clubs and empty-headed back slapping and very little of musical interest. It may be of historical interest to someone however. I think what put me off was Alfred Cammeyer's complete rejection of personal pronouns at the start of sentences or at the start of clauses. "I played well" would be "Played well". "She had a new banjo" is "Had a new banjo".  etc.  For those who are not bothered by page after page of this,  I am offering the book for sale to members of this forum for $50 USD which is  less than I paid. If no takers I'll  sell it elsewhere at my actual cost, or auction it on ebay and retire on the profits,  or use it for a foot rest.  For those outside the USA I'd have to add the postage cost, which might be substantial.  Sorry to hijack your thread, Tony. 

Comment by Mike Moss on September 8, 2013 at 22:52

Yes, the trio part is just crazy. The piano part just spazzes out and it's almost easier to play fast than slow due to the tricky rhythm.

Oh, and the picture in the video doesn't have anything to do with the song, it's just a poster. The song is actually pre-WWII -- the title isn't краснои армии слава. The song is called Комсофлотский Марш, and it is also known as Вперёд, Краснофлоцы, and it was written in the 1920s.

Comment by Mike Moss on September 8, 2013 at 22:54


Could you please sum up the musically relevant bits for us? I was also interested in the book but I was very disappointed when I saw a few excerpts and noticed what you described above -- basically, that it's mostly about high society and silly upper-class toffs.

Comment by Jody Stecher on September 8, 2013 at 23:20

Mike, there are no musically relevant bits. He plays here and everyone thinks he is wonderful. Then he play there and he is the best thing since sliced bread, don't you know, old boy? Then he carries his banjo somewhere else and without taking it out of the case he exchanges betting tips on race horses with the crowned heads of Europe. He gets invited to parties with the Right People and they all take an interest in his banjo —whether or not he plays it — because it is a curiosity I suppose. It's just chapter after chapter of name dropping written in what I think is intended to be a "breezy" style. I still like his music.

Comment by thereallyniceman on September 9, 2013 at 15:27

Brilliant Tony!

Go on, tell me how long you have played classic style so that I know how many more years I need to live to become that good ;-)

Comment by TONY BRYAN on September 9, 2013 at 19:52
I suppose that I have played the banjo now for 55 years, after my Dad bought me a Windsor Whirl for Christmas all those years ago. But it's not been 55 years of diligent study and practice - far from it! There were long periods (decades) when I didn't play it at all, but I always played something, so in a sense I can possibly claim 55 years of musical development. I think it's fairly well established that, to play an instrument reasonably, you should have dedicated about 5,000 hours to structured and focused practice. To play well, that number goes up to about 10,000 hours. And if you drop it for a year or two, you can easily find yourself starting counting all over again. On the other hand, if you were a natural and a genius, you could probably pick it up over a weekend. Like Tom Lehrer who claimed that his musical success derived from "being endowed at birth with twelve incredibly agile fingers".
Comment by Richard William Ineson on September 16, 2013 at 7:26

The unsigned copies of Cam's MAB are the rare ones.

Comment by Jody Stecher on September 16, 2013 at 17:27

I guess the unsigned copies are like postage stamps that got misprinted with an upside down image etc. My copy is signed. Still available. 

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