The Banjo Glossary Project 2018  
Monday, December 10, 2018

Welcome to The Banjo Glossary Project

Introduction, Historical Overview and Opportunities for Growth

The Banjo Glossary Project is a dynamic information repository built by, for, about and to benefit banjo players and to promote and celebrate all banjo related matters. This site has been designed from the ground up as a permanent, searchable and easily updated single-point comprehensive information database of banjo-related people, places, things, and events.

The Banjo Glossary Project offers a unique platform to the worldwide banjo community to capture and present the best information it has to offer about as many banjo-related things as can be dreamed up. Any individual who wishes to participate is welcome at any time to enhance any current listing or suggest a new listing in order to help build this information database. The tools for this are easy to use and only a click away. Optional enhancements can include—

Suggested Body Text, Edits or Updates
MP3 Audio Examples
YouTube Videos
Photographs, Illustrations or Artwork
Tablature Examples
Historical or Technical Documents
Links to Other Related Websites

The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” carries great truth. For example — reading static text about compensated bridges, styles of tailpieces, or a specific banjo roll may be informative — only limited understanding can be conveyed by words alone. Yet when you can also see photos of various types of compensated bridges or banjo tailpieces, or hear an MP3 or watch a video of a specific banjo lick along with seeing and interpreting related tablature — a more in-depth understanding can be conveyed beyond words because the senses are engaged. This is now easy and possible through The Banjo Glossary Project.

Historical Efforts at an Online Banjo Information Database

The idea of an easily accessible and relevant online banjo information database is not new. In the late 1990s the Banjo-L list serve group — comprised of banjo-playing online pioneers — recognized the need for and utility of gathering and presenting useful information into an easily accessible online format. Since then, Banjo-L’s landmark banjo glossary evolved organically and eventually grew to include 143 banjo terms and definitions. These entries have become the “seed” listings found within The Banjo Glossary Project and are included here by express permission.

As with many such efforts, the Banjo-L glossary by its nature was laborious to maintain and update, using offline databases for data entry and editing, and separately, manually formatted code for the online web presentation. Often only one person, volunteering their time and expertise for the love of banjo and the benefit of the banjo community at large, primarily performed this function. The glossary created by Banjo-L existed as a static alphabetical list of banjo terms, yet it remained the only viable attempt at compiling useful and timely banjo information in any form presented on the internet until now.

Answering a Call from within The Banjo Community

From its infancy the internet has spawned several close-knit banjo communities beginning with Banjo-L; as the internet has grown in sophistication and speed, dynamic online communities such as BanjoHangout and BanjoCafe have emerged and survived, establishing beyond doubt that a strong and ongoing interest in this unique instrument, the banjo, is shared by individuals from all walks of life spread out all over the globe.

This is a sample of discussion threads
found at The,
showing an ongoing interest in the idea of
an easy to use information directory.
Looking for an explanation of terms
posted May 1, 2009
Old-Time Terminology
and Geography--help!
posted October 16, 2009
Banjo terms glossary?
posted March 6, 2011
Terminology Used in Bluegrass
and Old Time Jams
posted April 10, 2011
Banjo Lingo
posted May 12, 2011
Banjo Glossary
posted May 13, 2011
Origin of the term “frailing”
posted December 1, 2011
Banjo terminology glossary?
posted February 10, 2012
What are the terms:
Vamping/Breaks and Harmony?
posted June 25, 2012
Banjo tone Glossary
posted May 30, 2013
Suggestion — BHO wiki
posted January 5, 2016
Despite the continued existence of Banjo-L’s online banjo glossary during this time, the banjo community repeatedly called for and discussed the need for an easy to access directory of terms and information, which could grow with it by capturing good information and making it easy to find and maintain (see sidebar ).

The Nature of Online Discussion Forums
versus Information Archives and Databases

Banjo centered social network sites such as BanjoHangout and BanjoHoller (and the now-defunct BanjoMafia) emerged and grew generally based around discussion forums — a model well suited for a dynamic community of individuals, enabling them to interact practically in real-time and to establish online friendships and banjo-based relationships and to discuss various topics at length and share information over time and distance.

Due to the inherent nature of these social network models, however, good information presented in conversational threads drops in importance as users move on to discuss other new topics. As older topics become dormant they are eventually relegated to archive status, where images or other media attached by users are often broken or missing, links may break or become outdated, and the information is less accessible. The life which the thread breathed before seems to be missing.

Excellent information and personal insights often shared in these types of discussion threads becomes obscured and less accessible and good information too frequently passes through and drops from visibility, existing in archival limbo without organization or in any unified catalogued, indexed and searchable form. Even with search tools available on these sites and other attempts to make good information “sticky” in nature, a comprehensive information database and registry is simply not within the intended scope or capability of online discussion forums.

This phenomenon is not unique to banjo communities by any means and is an issue inherent with any forum-based discussion site. With great regularity, the same topics will rise again later, some many times, which is the fuel and driving force of social sites — networking and interacting! Social sites will always thrive and serve this vital function in online life. This is by design, and social sties are continuously renewing and fulfilling their purpose by promoting interaction and discussion — as they should be. This is their function.

The Banjo Glossary Project, therefore, has been designed and exists as a stand-alone site with its singular purpose being to augment, compliment and co-exist with those and other social websites, and to fulfill this useful and needed function already recognized and repeatedly asked for the community itself — for a unified and cohesive database of banjo information, built by and for the community. Well, here it is, a new beginning.

The Banjo Glossary Project answers this call, providing the tools to make it easy and possible for anyone with an interest in banjos and an internet connection to participate. How far it can go and in which directions remains to be seen.

The Banjo Glossary Project: Opportunities for Growth

The Banjo-L’s pioneering online banjo community remains comprised primarily of old-time, clawhammer and frailing banjo players, and its landmark glossary effort focused on terms and information centered on those banjo styles. This reality opens many levels of opportunity for growth by users of this site. Plenty of room exists to further build upon existing listings, which remain ripe for enhancements and updates.

Participation is welcomed and invited to help fill in the information and multimedia possibilities found in — or noticeably missing from — this website. There is a wealth of unexplored banjo territory and literally thousands of banjo things, concepts and information subsets that remain to be included in this information directory.

This site is a work-in-progress built from the ground up and maintained by a banjo player. This offers users a unique and rare opportunity to help guide the developmental course and function of this site. An open invitation is extended for any feedback or insights that you may have about this website, and any ideas or suggestions for features to consider. All comments and suggestions are read and addressed directly by the site developer. Useful ideas which make sense to this site’s overall purpose may be taken into consideration and built into the core functionality of this website.

In the summer of 2015 Banjo-L discontinued its online banjo glossary. Therefore, this website, The Banjo Glossary Project, in many ways owes its existence to these early banjo picking internet pioneers and it is with profound gratitude and thanks to them and a sense of humility and service towards the banjo community at-large that The Banjo Glossary Project has been created.

Last updated January 13, 2016