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Banjo

The banjo is a four, five, or six stringed instrument with a thin membrane, stretched over a frame or cavity to form a resonator. The membrane is circular, made of plastic, or animal skin. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by Afro-Americans in the United States, adapted from African instruments of similar design; the banjo is associated with folk and country music. Banjo can be used in some rock songs. Many rock bands, such as The Eagles, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers, have used the five-string banjo in some of their songs; the banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music and the folk culture of rural whites before entering the mainstream via the minstrel shows of the 19th century. Along with the fiddle, the banjo is a mainstay of American old-time music, it is very used in traditional jazz. See American Banjo Museum The modern banjo derives from instruments, used in the Caribbean since the 17th century by enslaved people taken from West Africa. Written references to the banjo in North America appear in the 18th century, the instrument became available commercially from around the second quarter of the 19th century.

Several claims as to the etymology of the name "banjo" have been made. It may derive from the Kimbundu word mbanza, an African string instrument modeled after the Portuguese banza: a vihuela with five two-string courses and a further two short strings; the Oxford English Dictionary states that it comes from a dialectal pronunciation of Portuguese bandore or from an early anglicisation of Spanish bandurria. The name may derive from a traditional Afro-Caribbean folk dance called banya, which incorporates several cultural elements found throughout the African diaspora. Various instruments in Africa, chief among them the kora, feature a skin gourd body; the African instruments differ from early African American banjos in that the necks do not possess a Western-style fingerboard and tuning pegs, instead having stick necks, with strings attached to the neck with loops for tuning. Banjos with fingerboards and tuning pegs are known from the Caribbean as early as the 17th century; some 18th- and early 19th-century writers transcribed the name of these instruments variously as bangie, bonjaw and banjar.

Instruments similar to the banjo have been played in many countries. Another relative of the banjo is the akonting, a spike folk lute played by the Jola tribe of Senegambia, the ubaw-akwala of the Igbo. Similar instruments include the xalam of Senegal and the ngoni of the Wassoulou region including parts of Mali and Ivory Coast, as well as a larger variation of the ngoni known as the gimbri developed in Morocco by Back Sub-Saharan Africans. Early, African-influenced banjos were built around a wooden stick neck; these instruments had varying numbers of strings, though including some form of drone. The earliest known picture of a slave playing a banjo-like instrument shows a four-string instrument with its fourth string shorter than the others; the five-string banjo, with a short fifth string, was popularized by Joel Walker Sweeney, an American minstrel performer from Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Although Robert McAlpin Williamson is the first documented white banjoist, in the 1830s, Sweeney became the first white performer to play the banjo on stage.

His version of the instrument replaced the gourd with a drum-like sound box and included four full-length strings alongside a short fifth string. This new banjo was at first tuned d'Gdf♯a, though by the 1890s, this had been transposed up to g'cgbd'. Banjos were introduced in Britain by Sweeney's group, the American Virginia Minstrels, in the 1840s, became popular in music halls. In the antebellum South, many black slaves taught their masters how to play. For example, in his memoir With Sabre and Scalpel: The Autobiography of a Soldier and Surgeon, the Confederate veteran and surgeon John Allan Wyeth recalls learning to play the banjo as a child from a slave on his family plantation. For the last one hundred years, the tenor banjo has become an intrinsic part of the world of Irish traditional music, it is a relative newcomer to the genre, up until as as the 1960s they featured in Irish music at all. Two techniques associated with the five-string banjo are rolls and drones. Rolls are right hand accompanimental fingering pattern that consist of eight notes that subdivide each measure.

Drone notes are quick little notes played on the 5th string to fill in around the melody notes. These techniques are both idiomatic to the banjo in all styles, their sound is characteristic of bluegrass; the banjo was played in the claw-hammer style by the Africans who brought their version of the banjo with them. Several other styles of play were developed from this. Clawhammer consists of downward striking of one or more of the four main strings with the index, middle or both fingerwhile the drone or fifth string is played with a'lifting' motion of the thumb; the notes sounded by the thumb in this fashion are on the off beat. Melodies can be quite intricate adding techniques such as double drop thumb. In old time Appalachian Mountain music, a style called two-finger up-pick is used, a three-finger version that Earl Scruggs developed into the famous "Scruggs" style picking was nationally aired in 1945 on the Grand Ole Opry. While five-string banjos are traditiona

Smithy (1946 film)

Smithy is a 1946 Australian adventure film about pioneering Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his 1928 flight across the Pacific Ocean, from San Francisco, United States to Brisbane, Australia. This was the first-ever transpacific flight. Kingsford Smith was the pilot of the Fokker F. VII/3m three-engine monoplane "Southern Cross", with Australian aviator Charles Ulm as the relief pilot; the other two crew members were Harry Lyon. In 1943 in the South-West Pacific, some Australian and American airmen discuss the story of "Smithy", Charles Kingsford Smith; the Americans are told the story by an old officer of Smithy, along with a waiter, who knew him. The story starts in 1917 with his recovering from a wound incurred in fighting over the Western Front. Kingsford Smith is rewarded with the Military Cross and is determined to make a career out of flying. After the war Kingsford Smith visits America and has a brief romance with Kay Sutton but falls in love with and marries Mary Powell.

He attempts to enter the England to Australia Air Race in 1919 but is stopped by Prime Minister Billy Hughes. Kingsford Smith decides to become the first person to fly from the United States to Australia across the Pacific, he does the trip with Charles Ulm in an aircraft becomes world-famous. Kingsford Smith attempts to set up his own airline but is not successful and is forced to take people on joy flights to make a living, he breaks another record, crossing the Pacific from the Australia to the United States in a single engine aircraft with P. G. Taylor. Kingsford Smith dies flying to New Zealand with Bill Taylor and John Stannage, subsequently, retires the Southern Cross. In 1935 Kingsford Smith attempts to fly from Australia to England but disappears over the Indian Ocean. Smithy was the idea of N. P. Pery, the managing director of Columbia Pictures in Australia; the Australian government had restricted the export of capital during the war, Pery thought making a film could use up some of that money.

Pery: "Although I represent an American company, I have no hesitation in saying that I believe the production of British films will blossom out, will in time take its place side by side with the production of American films. Furthermore, I do not think I am indulging in Utopian fancies when I say that Australia, or rather, some spot in Australia, could be made the Hollywood of the British Commonwealth." Pery approached Ken G. Hall, Australia's most commercially successful director, asked him to make a film about an Australian, well-known internationally. Hall says he considered Don Bradman but never because Bradman was not known in the United States; the three main candidates were Dame Nellie Melba and Charles Kingsford Smith. Hall said. Melba was rejected because of the costs involved with producing opera sequences and the difficulty of finding an appropriate singer to stand in for Melba; that left Kingsford Smith. Hall commissioned treatments from several writers, including Jesse Lasky, Jr., stationed at Cinesound Productions with the US Signal Corps.

Early drafts focused on Smithy's first flight across the Pacific but Hall decided to cover most of Smithy' life. Hall felt the two of them developed a detailed treatment; the treatment was adapted by Alec Coppel, an Australian writer who had enjoyed success in London and returned to Australia during the war. Sydney journalist Norman Ellison provided research. Ken G. Hall looked at 60 applicants to play the title role in screen testing eight. Hall says the choice came down to Ron Randell, a radio and theatre actor. Hall preferred Finch but sent extensive screen tests of both actors with Muriel Steinbeck back to Columbia in Hollywood; the studio picked Randell on the grounds of his greater romantic appeal. Filmink magazine wrote "While Finch was the better actor, I feel it was the right decision – Randell suited the more conventional, romantic approach Hall wanted to take with the material."Muriel Steinbeck was the only actor considered for the female lead in Smithy. She had appeared with Randell in A Son Is Born, a film whose release was held up to take advantage of publicity for Smithy.

Although Smithy was financed by Columbia Pictures, Ken G. Hall made it using his old Cinesound crew and shot it at Cinesound's studio in Bondi; the aircraft used in Smithy was the genuine Southern Cross, purchased by the Australian Government 10 years earlier and refurbished by the RAAF. A surplus RAAF CAC Boomerang was used in flying sequences for Kingsford Smith's Lady Southern Cross Lockheed Altair. Two former co-pilots of Kingsford Smith, P. G. Taylor and Harry Purvis play themselves. Hughes plays himself as a younger man interviewing Kingsford Smith. Hall says Alec Coppel wrote a scene where Kingsford Smith tries to persuade Hughes let him compete in an air race and Hughes switches off his hearing aid. Hughes was sensitive, about his deafness and references to it were removed in the shooting script. Smithy featured the first on screen appearance of noted Australian

History of synesthesia research

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which two or more bodily senses are coupled. For example, in a form of synesthesia known as grapheme-color synesthesia, letters or numbers may be perceived as inherently colored; the most described form of synesthesia has been between sound and vision, e.g. the hearing of colors in music. The interest in colored hearing, i.e. the co-perception of color in hearing sounds or music, dates back to Greek antiquity, when philosophers were investigating whether the colour of music was a physical quality that could be quantified. The seventeenth-century physicist Isaac Newton tried to solve the problem by assuming that musical tones and colour tones have frequencies in common; the age-old quest for colour-pitch correspondences in order to evoke perceptions of coloured music resulted in the construction of color organs and performances of colored music in concert halls at the end of the nineteenth century.. John Locke in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding' reports: A studious blind man, who had mightily beat his head about visible objects, made use of the explication of his books and friends, to understand those names of light and colours which came in his way, bragged one day, That he now understood what scarlet signified.

Upon which, his friend demanding what scarlet was? The blind man answered, It was like the sound of a trumpet. Whether this is an synesthesia, or reflects metaphorical speech, is debated. A similar example appears in Leibniz's New Essays on Human Understanding. Although it is speculation, there is reason to believe that the person Locke referred to was the mathematician and scientist Nicholas Saunderson, who held the Lucasian professor chair at Cambridge University, whose general prominence would have made his statements noticeable. In Letters on the blind, Denis Diderot, one of Locke's followers, mentions Saunderson by name in related philosophical reflections. In 1710, Thomas Woolhouse reported the case of another blind man who perceived colors in response to sounds. Numerous other philosophers and scientists, including Isaac Newton, Erasmus Darwin and Wilhelm Wundt may have referred to synesthesia, or at least synesthesia-like mappings between colors and musical notes. Henry David Thoreau remarked in a letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1848 that a child he knew had asked him "if I did not use ‘colored words.’ She said that she could tell the color of a great many words, amused the children at school by so doing."

The first agreed upon account of synesthesia comes from German physician Georg Tobias Ludwig Sachs in 1812, who reports on his colored vowels as part of his PhD dissertation, although its importance has only become apparent retrospectively. The father of psychophysics, Gustav Fechner reported on a first empirical survey of colored letter photisms among 73 synesthetes in 1871, followed in the 1880s by Francis Galton; these early investigations aroused little interest, the phenomenon was first brought to the attention of the scientific community. Research into synesthesia proceeded briskly, with researchers from England, Germany and the United States all investigating the phenomenon; these early research years corresponded with the founding of psychology as a scientific field. By 1926, Mahling cites 533 published papers dealing with colored hearing alone. Although there is still debate as to when the first international academic conference to look at synesthesia took place, a candidate is the following: From 2 – 5 March 1927, Georg Anschütz presided over the convening of the first Kongresse zur Farbe-Ton-Forschung, in Hamburg, Germany.

A second congress took place 1 -- 5 October 1930, in Germany. In addition to drawing concerted scientific interest, the phenomenon of synesthesia started arousing interest in the salons of fin de siecle Europe; the French Symbolist poets Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire wrote poems which focused on synesthetic experience. Baudelaire's Correspondances introduced the Romantic notion that the senses can and should intermingle. Kevin Dann argues that Baudelaire learned of synesthesia from reading medical textbooks that were available in his home, it is agreed that neither Baudelaire, nor Rimbaud were true synesthetes. Rimbaud, following Baudelaire, wrote Voyelles, more important than Correspondances in popularizing synesthesia. Numerous other composers and writers followed suit, making synesthesia well known among the artistic community of the day. Due to the difficulties in assessing and measuring subjective internal experiences, the rise of behaviorism in psychology, which banished any mention of internal experiences, the study of synesthesia waned during the 1930s.

Marks lists 44 papers discussing colored hearing from 1900 to 1940, while in the following 35 years from 1940 to 1975, only 12 papers were published on this topic. Cretien van Campen graphed the number of publications in the period 1780 - 2000 and noticed a revival of synesthesia studies from the 1980s. In the 1980s, as the cognitive revolution had begun to make discussion of internal states and the study of