Cover for Jones-Bamman: Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World. Click for larger image
Ebook Information

Building New Banjos for an Old-Time World

Awards and Recognition:

• Klaus P. Wachsmann Prize for Advanced and Critical Essays in Organology, the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), 2018

Artisans building musical instruments and community

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.

"The book offers models for researching the art of instrument makers. It shows the need for studying a wide range of crafters to learn about musical history."--Journal of Folklore Research

"The book presents a concise overview of banjo history and provides insight into construction trends and the cultural relevance of the instrument. Readers interested in the banjo's place in old-time music and its evolution over the past 50 years will find this book an informative and worthy read."--Old-Time Herald

"This book will be a valuable collection to the library of any banjo maker or player keen to embrace a keener understanding of how their instrument came to be." --Old Time News

"Jones-Bamman's book remains unique in its subject matter and approach and a valuable contribution to the deservedly growing body of literature on the instrument." --Popular Music and Society

"Jones-Bamman provides a detailed description of the steps involved in building an old-time banjo: from the selection of the wood, to countless design decisions regarding aesthetics, structure, and tone, to choice of hardware, to designing pearl inlays, to the wood finish and final set up. These technical details, explained in the words of the banjo builders themselves, nicely illustrate the evolution of the craft of contemporary banjo building." --Society for American Music Bulletin

“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

Publication of this book supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the AMS 75 PAYS Endowment of the American Musicological Society, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the L. J. and Mary C. Skaggs Folklore Fund.

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

To order online:

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Cultural Sustainabilities - Cover
Cultural Sustainabilities

Music, Media, Language, Advocacy

Edited by Timothy J. Cooley

Ritual Soundings - Cover
Ritual Soundings

Women Performers and World Religions

Sarah Weiss

A Respectable Spell - Cover
A Respectable Spell

Transformations of Samba in Rio de Janeiro

Carlos Sandroni

Musical Ethics and Islam - Cover
Musical Ethics and Islam

The Art of Playing the Ney

Banu Senay

A Guru’s Journey - Cover
A Guru’s Journey

Pandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora

Sarah Morelli

Living Ethnomusicology - Cover
Living Ethnomusicology

Paths and Practices

Margaret Sarkissian and Ted Solís

Dancing Revolution - Cover
Dancing Revolution

Bodies, Space, and Sound in American Cultural History

Christopher J. Smith

Signs of the Spirit - Cover
Signs of the Spirit

Music and the Experience of Meaning in Ndau Ceremonial Life

Tony Perman

Music and the Moving Image - Cover
Music and the Moving Image

Edited by Gillian B. Anderson & Ronald H. Sadoff

American Music - Cover
American Music

Edited by Gayle Sherwood Magee

Dhol - Cover

Drummers, Identities, and Modern Punjab

Gibb Schreffler

Kusamira Music in Uganda - Cover
Kusamira Music in Uganda

Spirit Mediumship and Ritual Healing

Peter J. Hoesing

Gamelan Girls - Cover
Gamelan Girls

Gender, Childhood, and Politics in Balinese Music Ensembles

Sonja Lynn Downing

Music as Mao's Weapon - Cover
Music as Mao's Weapon

Remembering the Cultural Revolution

Lei X. Ouyang

Performing Environmentalisms - Cover
Performing Environmentalisms

Expressive Culture and Ecological Change

Edited by John Holmes McDowell, Katherine Borland, Rebecca Dirksen, and Sue Tuohy