Banjo - The banjo is a stringed instrument of African-American origin, early or original examples sometimes being called the "gourd banjo". Its name is commonly thought to be derived from the Kimbundu term mbanza. Some etymologists derive it from a dialectal pronunciation of "bandore", though recent research suggests that it may come from a Senegambian term for the bamboo stick used for the instrument's neck.
The modern banjo comes in a variety of different forms, including four- (plectrum and tenor banjos) and five-string versions. A six-string version, tuned and played similar to a guitar is gaining popularity. In almost all of its forms the banjo's playing is characterised by a fast strumming or arpeggiated right hand, although there are many different playing styles.
Although the banjo is most commonly associated with country or bluegrass music, the instrument has enjoyed inclusion in a wide variety of musical genres, not the least of which is up-and-coming pop crossover music. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African American traditional music as well as in the minstrel shows of the 19th century.
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