Banjo Images

Banjo images include photographs and drawings of this musical instrument. There are two main types of acoustic banjo, four string and five string models.

The first known image of a banjo dates back to around 1790; this painting shows a Black man wearing a cowboy hat and sporting a handle bar mustache playing it.


Bluegrass music evokes an aura that captures the beauty and spirit of Appalachia through its vocal harmonies and intricate instrumental work, dating back to Bill Monroe in the 1930s and his band the Blue Grass Boys. Bluegrass evolved as an American country and western genre featuring guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle as acoustic instruments alongside close vocal harmony vocals; its distinctive sound owing much to Appalachian folk music traditions as well as African American musical traditions as well as European musical styles among others.

Early bluegrass performers were heavily influenced by Appalachian mountain music, played both at home and church services. Songs often depicted religious faith, daily life in rural America and pioneering struggles. African American musical traditions were also influential on these early musicians as were Irish and Scottish immigrants who brought traditional ballads from home with them to America. Acoustic instruments used in bluegrass are typically played using intricate finger picking and improvisation which gives the genre its distinctive sound.

In the 1950s, bluegrass music found increasing popularity during the folk revival era and gained new audiences through urban areas. Although initially classified as folk music alongside jazz and rock ‘n roll genres, over time its definition changed significantly into country.

Bluegrass music relies heavily on acoustic instruments, while still including electric guitars and other modern sounds. Beginning in the 1970s, a new generation of musicians began taking progressive bluegrass or newgrass to new places, including adding more rock and jazz elements into it – today this style can be heard among such acts as Alison Krauss & Union Station, Infamous Stringdusters, and Yonder Mountain String Band.

Today, this music genre continues to develop and has gained fans from countries worldwide. It remains an integral part of many people’s lives due to its many and diverse origins; plus its accessibility makes it perfect for use without costly equipment in informal settings.


The banjo has long been a central instrument in country and American jazz music genres, from bluegrass and old-time to Dixieland jazz. The instrument had its heyday during Black American traditional music and rural folk culture before its popularity rose via whiteface minstrel shows of the 19th century. Additionally, Caribbean genres such as biguine, calypso, and mento also utilize this instrument in large measure – as shown here with this video by Matthew Sabatella playing a banjo patterned after The Old Plantation details.


Jazz music features banjo playing in many different styles. Some styles stem from American musical tradition while others take influence from African cultural practices – making this style of music beautiful and complex in equal measures. Jazz also transcends generations and backgrounds alike and has often been used as an avenue to express freedom for those suffering injustice due to skin color or living under harsh dictators.

Jazz began its development in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century as a blend of West African musical traditions and American innovation and creativity, becoming an influential genre that continues to shape music today. Jazz remains an expressive medium that celebrates diversity while encouraging artistic expression.

The banjo first gained widespread recognition in America through 19th century minstrel shows, where white men dressed in blackface would perform music and comedy skits with banjo accompaniment. Although not invented by whites themselves, today the instrument is often associated with this period in American history, leading to some controversy regarding its relevance for that time period. Still, its impactful contribution has ensured its place as part of American musical heritage.

During the jazz age, players began to realize that the fifth string was hindering certain styles of music they were performing on their banjos. Thus most dropped it and only used four strings instead, many with exotic woods and raised metal frets for improved sound quality. Innovations which had begun during minstrel shows continued on; more types were developed than ever.

The five-string banjo has long been an instrument associated with Black American music as well as certain Caribbean genres like biguine, mento and calypso. Additionally, its use was prominent in traditional bluegrass and old-time genres; composers Frederick Delius and Ernst Krenek even used it in classical pieces! Numerous modern musicians include Don Vappie, Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka who all use banjos today!


The blues is an American genre of music which originated in African American communities and the black cultural melting pot of the South during the mid 19th Century. The genre emerged from an amalgam of African musical traditions, work songs of slaves, field hollers and shouts and chants, rural fife and drum music, folk ballads, European hymns and contemporary dance music; characterized by call and response patterns with specific chord progressions (“12-bar blues”) as well as worried notes (thirds or fifths flattened in pitch).

Blues music has always been about feeling sad, yet at the same time overcoming life’s trials and communicating what’s on our minds. No other musical style captures human emotion with such vivid clarity as blues music does.

No wonder many people associate the banjo with blues: its role was central in creating it. One of the most iconic instruments in African-American history, it has come to symbolize strength and resilience against all odds.

Though there are various approaches to playing blues music, an acoustic five-string banjo has long been seen as the go-to instrument. Due to its prominent position at the forefront of an ensemble, its unique sound stands out.

The blues has had a profound impact on American popular culture and served as an influential model for jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll music. Its origins can be traced to African-American religious spirituals, traditional folk songs from slaves and sharecroppers’ lives, work songs performed at slave auctions and sharecropper camps; its melodies reflect influences from African and European musical traditions while remaining transcendant of class differences.

Today, blues music remains an integral component of American culture. Numerous musicians have integrated elements of blues into their work – Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry are two such examples who have successfully fused blues elements with more upbeat styles that appeal to modern audiences.