The banjo, also called the banjar, banger, bangelo, strum strum, and merrwang, has its roots in the Senegambia region of West Africa. Able to combine the rhythmic nature of African music and the melodic sounds of European music, the banjo was a popular instrument often accompanied by singing. Unfortunately, in the mid-nineteenth century the banjo, a featured instrument in black minstrel shows, became a frequent element in derogatory caricatures of African Americans.
The fiddle was a popular instrument with both black and white musicians and audiences. At social gatherings, slaves might dance the "back step," "buzzard lope," or "pigeon-wing" to the tunes of a fiddle.
"Alas! Had it not been for my beloved violin, I scarcely can conceive how I could have endured the long years of bondage ..."
- Solomon Northup