Building New Banjos for an Old Time World

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Building New Banjos for an Old Time World

Richard Jones-BammanBuilding New Banjos for an Old Time World9780252082849

Banjo music possesses a unique power to evoke a bucolic, simpler past. The artisans who build banjos for old-time music stand at an unusual crossroads--asked to meet the modern musician’s needs while retaining the nostalgic qualities so fundamental to the banjo’s sound and mystique.

Richard Jones-Bamman ventures into workshops and old-time music communities to explore how banjo builders practice their art. His interviews and long-time personal immersion in the musical culture shed light on long-overlooked aspects of banjo making. What is the banjo builder’s role in the creation of a specific musical community? What techniques go into the styles of instruments they create? Jones-Bamman explores these questions and many others while sharing the ways an inescapable sense of the past undergirds the performance and enjoyment of old-time music. Along the way he reveals how antimodernism remains integral to the music’s appeal and its making. He also delves into the omission of African Americans--the originators of the banjo--from both the instrument’s popular history and the nostalgia engendered by the music, and the role contemporary banjo builders are playing to rectify this situation.

Paperback, measures 6 x 9 inches. 288 pages. 33 black and white photographs, 5 line drawings. Published by University of Illinois Press.

“The issues raised by Jones-Bamman and the information he provides to aid in their discussion have never been brought together in one volume. A significant addition to the literature.”--Bob Carlin, author of Banjo: An Illustrated History

“Completely unique in his focus on present-day banjo makers and the cultural significance of the banjo for builders and players today. Jones-Bamman shows us how the banjo taps deeply into conflicting ideas about modernity and the USA’s checkered past.”--Timothy J. Cooley, author of Surfing about Music

Richard Jones-Bamman is emeritus professor of music at Eastern Connecticut State University.