Friday, September 14, 2012

Bach on the Banjo: Cello Suite no 3. – Sarabande

Happy Banjo Friday!

I began my recent obsession with baroque & other classical forms of music played on the banjo with a video of Robby Faverey performing the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite no. 1 on a cello banjo. I’ve since learned a couple of things about Faverey: he did indeed build his own cello banjo; & he tunes it a minor third below cello tuning: A E B F#. This puts his instrument essentially at a mid-point between cello & bass range, & certainly enhances the sonorousness of its tone.

But Faverey’s playing is itself marvelous; a classical guitarist who is also an accomplished lutenist, he studied at Amsterdam’s Sweelinck Conservatory, & has also studied both sitar & sarod. After reading about the Stedman bania, housed in the Museum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden & thought to be the oldest example of a American banjo (dating from about 1770 in Suriname, which is also his own home), Faverey became intrigued by this instrument as well. After building some gourd banjos, he experimented with using the drum head of a floor tom (!) & was able to contruct the large cello banjo he plays today.

I love this sound! Hope you enjoy it too!

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons: The Face of Bach / Elias Gottlob Haussmann, Version of 1748; public domain

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I can definitely see the lute technique in his playing. The sound is very much like the sarod; if he'd made the banjo fretless it would sound even more like one. And using a floor tom head was genius; it adds so much more resonance. Great find, John!


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.