Banjo the musical instrument of African origin is used all over the world

TStringed instruments are the softest and most enjoyable musical instruments to hear compared to other instruments. Thus, the banjo, a string instrument native to Africa, is appreciated around the world by music lovers. It consists of a thin membrane shown on a cavity to sound like a resonator. The shape of the membrane is circular and is usually made of plastic or sometimes animal skin. Previously, the shapes of this instrument were designed by the African American community. This instrument can be used especially with folk and country music to explore the flavor of this genre. However, this instrument can also be used with rock, pop and hip-hop songs.


In modern times, the banjo instrument originates from the Caribbean, as in the 17th century many slaves were taken from West Africa. Banjo’s written references were observed in North America in the 18th century. By the second quarter of the 19th century, this instrument was used commercially all over the world. Several claims have been made about the etymology of the name “banjo”. Many people say that it comes from the Kimbundu mbanza dialect. Whereas, the Oxford dictionary states that it is derived from the dialectal types of a Portuguese word bandore.

Various African instruments have been popularized around the world, but Kora is the main one. This instrument is also featured with animal skin and body gourd. The African banjo is different from the early African American banjos in that they did not consist of a Western-style twist and chord keys up their necks. However, they consist of stick collars with strings tied in the necks with the buckles for adjustment. Therefore, banjos with pegs and keys are Caribbean music belonging to the early 17th century. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, writers transcribed this instrument under various names such as banza, bonjaw, banjer, bangie, and banjar. In addition, instruments with a similar type of banjo have also been used in many countries such as the Japanese shamisen, Moroccan sintir, and Chinese sanxian.



Mainly, two techniques are closely followed for playing the five-string banjo: drones and reels. In the roller technique, a player must use the right hand for the accompanying fingering patterns with all eight notes and these can be subdivided into each measure. On the other hand, the drone technology is followed with quick little notes played on the 5th string for the melodic result. These two techniques are idiomatic for playing the banjo with all styles. However, history says that the banjo was played using the claw hammer style by Africans and that they introduced their version of the banjo with them.

Several other styles are also present for playing this fantastic banjo instrument. In the claw hammer style, it involves hammering one or more strings using the middle finger, index finger and thumb. Notes played by the thumb are generally used to play the offbeat sound for listeners. The melodies of the banjo are very much associated with the playing style of the banjo. So each style would consist of a different type of melodious sound from the same instrument.

Types of banjo

In modern times, the banjo comes in many different forms, including four and five string versions of banjos. However, the six-string banjo with the melody edges has gained popularity because it can be played in the same way as the guitar. In addition, almost all types of banjos are played by a fast pick that adapts to different playing styles. The five-string banjo features variations from the original design. Banjo players use numerous tunings for the fantastic playful journey of music. The most commonly used tuning is bluegrass, which has open G tuning with G3D3G4D4.

On the other hand, the tenor banjo is the most moving and melodic banjo instrument. It consists of the shorter neck with 17 by 19 frets played with the pick. The tenor banjo was a rhythmic instrument for dance orchestras in the early 20th century. The volume and timbre of this type of banjo are required at the start of jazz. In addition, the instrument can also be heard clearly with acoustic recordings. Some other types of banjo instruments are bass banjos, banjo mandolin, and banjo ukulele.

The banjo has become a popular instrument with its different styles and shapes all over the world. Moreover, people use it in various musical genres. However, there is some diversity as to the origin of this instrument, but Africa is considered to be the origin of this instrument. Therefore, it can be expected that new types of musical compositions and songs can be listened to through this instrument.

Comments are closed.