Bluegrass, Country Music, Gospel, Old Time Music, Jug Bands, Appalachian
Folk, Blues, Cajun and Native American Music
American folk music is a musical term that
encompasses numerous genres, many of which are known
as traditional music, traditional folk music,
contemporary folk music or roots music. Roots music
is a broad category of music including bluegrass,
country music, gospel, old time music, jug bands,
Appalachian folk, blues, Cajun and Native American
music. The music is considered American either
because it is native to the United States or because
it developed there, out of foreign origins, to such
a degree that it struck musicologists as something
distinctly new. It is considered "roots music"
because it served as the basis of music later
developed in the United States, including rock and
roll, rhythm and blues, and jazz.
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The banjo originated in the
Middle East and Africa. It was developed by African slaves who based it on
musical instruments found in their native regions. Richard Jobson was the
first European explorer to document the existence of the banjo in the 1600s.
Early forms were made of hollowed gourds with animal skins stretched across
them. Each gourd was attached to a bamboo neck.
Thomas Jefferson observed the existence of what he called the "banjar" in
the late 1700s. He noted that it came to America with the African slaves.
The banjo became a popular instrument among the slaves because it was one of
the few reminders of their home, and even the European settlers began
enjoying its music. White Americans began using banjos in minstrel shows.
One of the most famous minstrel performers was Joel Walker Sweeney. His use
of a five-string banjo helped popularize that variety. Modern banjos have
either four or five strings for plucking while a six-string banjo is
strummed in the same manner as a guitar.
Based on its rich heritage among African slaves and southern Americans, this
instrument is important in bluegrass, folk, country, and traditional African
The mandolin represents an
entirely different history although many people think that the mandolin is
simply a variation of the banjo. While the banjo is rooted in the Middle
East and Africa, the mandolin is a symbol of Western civilization. It
evolved from the lute in Italy during the 1300s. It
was first recognized as
a unique instrument during the 1600s. It was popular in Italian towns,
particularly Naples, and it spread all throughout Europe. Mandolins also
made their way to India during this period.
The mandolin became popular in Baroque music, especially as it was used by
Giovanni Battista Gervasio and other famous musicians of the time. Gervasio
even toured Europe and gave mandolin lessons to interested parties.
Since the 1900s, mandolins have been popular in Celtic, bluegrass, jazz, and
The banjolin essentially has
the physicality of the banjo but requires the technique of the mandolin. It
has only four strings and is sometimes referred to as the soprano banjo.
During the 1900s, banjos became very popular, challenging mandolin
musicians. Around this time, manufacturers began selling banjo mandolins.
The name was later shortened to the banjolin. It has a round body like a
banjo, but its neck is short like that of a mandolin. The strings are also
more like a mandolin's strings. Although the banjolin is played like a
mandolin, it still carries the banjo's twangy, percussive sound.
The Mandolin Banjo
The mandolin banjo is
essentially a banjolin with double strings. It was created to help mandolin
players regain popularity when the banjo took over the music scene during
the 1900s. The banjo is often much louder than the mandolin. The mandolin
banjo has an intermediate sound.
en English mandolin it Italian mandolino es Spanish mandolina fr French
mandoline de German Mandoline ru Russian мандолина ar Arabic بُزُق; مندولينة
zh Chinese 曼多林琴 af Afrikaans mandolien sq Albanian mandolinë ay Aymara
mandolina az Azeri (latin Script) mandolina ba Bashkir мандолина eu Basque
mandolina bs Bosnian mandolina bc Bresciano mandola br Breton mandolig;
mandolinenn bg Bulgarian мандолина cb Calabrese mandulinuca Catalan
mandolina hr Croatian mandolinacs Czech mandolína da Danish mandolin dr Dari
مندولین nl Dutch mandolineeo Esperanto mandolino et Estonian mandoliin fi
Finnish mandoliini fl Flemish mandoline gl Galician mandolina el Greek
μαντολίνο kl Greenlandic mandoliina gu Gujarati મેંડોલિન he Hebrew מנדולינה
hi Hindi मैन्डोलिन hu Hungarian mandolin ga Irish maindilín ja Japanese
マンドリン kk Kazakh мандолина ky Kirghiz мандолина ko Korean 만돌린 kj Kurdish
Kurmanji mandolîn ku Kurdish Sorani ماندولیین mt Maltese mandolina mx Manx
mandalyn mq Mirandolese mandulen mo Mokshan manolin mn Mongolian мандолин nc
Napulitano mandulino; pandulino no Norwegian Bokmål mandolin or Oriya
ମେଣ୍ଡୋଲିନ fa Persian مندولين pl Polish mandolina pt Portuguese bandolim pa
Punjabi ਮੈਨਡੋਲਿਨ qu Quechua mandulina er Romagnolo manduléin ro Romanian
mandolină se Saami mandoliina sr Serbian мандолина sk Slovak mandolína sl
Slovenian mandolina sv Swedish mandolin ta Tamil மன்டலீன் tt Tatar мандолина
th Thai แมนโดลิน ti Tigrinya ማንዶሊኖ zt Traditional Chinese 曼多林琴 tr Turkish
mandolin tk Turkmen mandolina uk Ukrainian мандоліна ur Urdu مینڈولن vi
Vietnamese đờn măng-đô-lin cy Welsh mandolin ji Yiddish מאַנדאָלין en
English banjo it Italian banjo; bangio es Spanish banjo fr French banjo de
German Banjo ru Russian банджо ar Arabic بانجو zh Chinese 班 琵琶 af Afrikaans
banjo br Breton banjo bg Bulgarian банджо ca Catalan banjo hr Croatian
bendo cs Czech bendo da Danish banjo nl Dutch banjo eo Esperanto banĝo fi
Finnish banjo gl Galician banxo el Greek μπάντζο he Hebrew בנג'ו hi Hindi
बैंजो hu Hungarian bendzsó ga Irish bainseo ja Japanese バンジョー ko Korean 밴조
lv Latvian bando no Norwegian Bokmål banjo fa Persian بانجو pl Polish
bandżo pt Portuguese banjo ro Romanian banjo sr Serbian бенџо sk Slovak
bendo sl Slovenian bendo sv Swedish banjo th Thai แบนโจ zt Traditional
Chinese 班卓琴 tr Turkish banço uk Ukrainian банджо va Valencian banjo vi
Vietnamese đờn băng-giô cy Welsh banjô xh Xhosa isikhaliso esifana nekatala
zu Zulu bhenjo