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stringed musical instrument, with a body resembling a tambourine. The banjo consists of a hoop over which a skin membrane is stretched; it has a long, often fretted neck and four to nine strings, which are plucked with a pick or the fingers. Slaves brought it to America (by 1688) from W Africa, to which it may have come from Europe or Asia. It was played in minstrel shows in the 19th cent. It is used frequently in hillbilly and Southern folk music. Because of an incisive, percussive quality, it is often used as a rhythm or a solo instrument in Dixieland bands.



pizzicato string instrument akin to the guitar. The body is in the shape of a flat tambourine with a skin diaphragm. It has four to nine strings. The sharp, harsh, quickly fading sound is produced with a plectrum. Around the 17th century it was brought from Western Africa to the USA, where it was widely used by Negroes for accompaniment to singing and for solo playing. In the 19th century it was improved: the five-string banjo appeared, and stops on the neck came into use. Varieties of banjos of different sizes and pitches are used in jazz.


a stringed musical instrument with a long neck (usually fretted) and a circular drumlike body overlaid with parchment, plucked with the fingers or a plectrum
References in periodicals archive ?
He delves into various situations in which the band had to learn on its feet, with examples such as Dave Guard learning to play the banjo by holing up with Pete Seeger's How to Play the 5-String Banjo and practicing the Seeger two-finger style constantly (p.
Later in his life, he became an accomplished 5-string banjo player, and had an old-time band called The Wronglers with whom he performed all over the U.
McClure's life has seen dizzying moves from poverty in North Carolina during the early '80's (where he wrote the first 5-string banjo improvisation guide, "Variations On Theme") to ascension to NASA Space Scientist positions at the Johnson Space Center (late 80's to early '90's) with subsequent relocation to Nashville and his "creative career" and its plunges and bouts of hardship and deprivation that could break a weaker soul.