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Instr. of the same general type as the guitar, but the resonating body is of parchment strained over a metal hoop and it has an open back. There are from 4 to 9 str. (usually 5 or 6), passing over a low bridge and ‘stopped’ against a fingerboard, which is often without frets; one is a melody string (thumb string, or chanterelle), the others providing a simple chordal acc. Some examples have gut str. (played with the finger‐tips) and others wire str. (played with a plectrum). Used by Gershwin in Porgy and Bess and by Delius in Koanga. The origin of this instr. is supposed to be Africa, and it was in use among the slaves of S. USA; then, in the 19th cent., it became the accepted instr. of ‘Negro Minstrels’ and in the 20th found a place in jazz bands. These last sometimes used a Tenor Banjo, with a different scheme of tuning (resembling that of the vn. family). The Zither Banjo is of small size and has wire str.

Subjects: Music.

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