The Banjo 50 Years from Now

We’re so used to technology these days. Many of us make our living from some part of it. Even if you don’t earn a living at it, you know how to use Facebook, cellphones, iPods and so on and so forth. We’re also used to seeing visioneers and sages offering up forecasts for future technologies.

But the banjo?

I see the contradiction here; something like technology stirs the imagination and sets us wondering what’s in store for us in the future. Something like the banjo represents, in many ways, just the opposite. Something plain, steady and reflective. Both joyous and plaintive. “Banjos know their place” to totally misquote Mole in “The Wind in the Willows”.

To be somewhat truthful to the title, I do see banjos using small on-board computers to help keep the instrument in tune. Gibson already has one or two instruments like this out as of 2009, from what I recall reading. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some new styles become popular; maybe some old ones being revived, too.

And now, to address what I felt in writing this title. No, there will be no changes in the banjo, technology, styles and such lesser attributes aside. The banjo will remain the same in everyone’s hearts, whether highly esteemed or scorned. The banjo has it’s own side of the tracks on which to dwell, neither definitely right nor definitely wrong. What we make of it today will be what we continue to make of it tomorrow and always.

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About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Systems Engineer and part-time banjo and mandolin instructor. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play Scruggs and melodic and am working on becoming more advanced with single string. I'm also working on 4-finger banjo, which is way off the beaten path. I would like to see more jazz techniques integrated into bluegrass situations; counterpoint, especially. So long-term, that's what I'm doing. I'm also very keen on astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, christian homeschooling, martial arts, organic gardening and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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