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Banjo Origins

While writer and guitarist Banning Eyre was studying music in Mali earlier this year, he discovered that local people played a kind of lute that both looked and sounded like the American banjo. And Eyre discovered that when presented with a banjo, the Malian musicians picked it up quickly, lending credence to the scholarly theory that West African slaves in fact brought the earliest form of the banjo to this country centuries ago. (5:30) (S

Copyright 1996 NPR