The "Bonja Song" 1st music to mention the banjo.

Have one like this?


The "Bonja Song" is the first piece of printed music ever to mention the banjo.

[BANJO Incunable]. - [Robert Charles DALLAS (1754-1824, words attrib. to). – Trad. Tune ?]

Title: Bonja Song, a favorite negro air. For the piano-forte, dedicated to Georgeiana.

Publication: [New York]: published by J.A. and W. Geib, 23 Maiden Lane, [undated but probably c. 1818-1823]. Folio (13 ¼ x 9 7/8 inches), 3 pp. engraved throughout with headline title. The final 4th page left blank (as published).

Condition: repaired tears, voids filled [see images], pp.1/2 and 3/[4] used to be a bi-folium, this is now split in half .

Also known as ‘What are the joys of the white man here?’ (1823, ‘The "Bonja Song" is the first piece of printed music ever to mention the banjo. … it is earlier than minstrelsy and it confirms that the banjo, or banjo-like instruments, was associated with Africans and their music at the time. … It was marketed as a genuine black folk song, though this is unlikely, as the lyrics are the usual condescending, racist and paternalistic fare of the times, though it is less hateful than many later minstrel songs. The melody, however, falls admirably on the banjo strings, as can be seen in the original piano sheet music. Could it be that the melody was indeed originally played on the banjo? We will never know. This little ditty remains, however, an important part of the musical history of the banjo.” (https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/262230)

Click here for more information and to bid
Ask a Question