Jim Bottorff's Banjo Page
Website History
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Following is some history on how this website evolved.
 
Overview:
 
This website has evolved from 1994 as something for my own use, to the present, where it is used by banjo players, banjo bands, teachers, performers and musicians of all types throughout the world. The goal of the site is to promote the banjo and how to play it, as well as provide some songs to play-along with on any instrument of your choice.
 
The Beginning:
 
In 1994 I began researching various music software programs for the purpose of providing myself with music accompaniment while I played the banjo.  As a result, I began to use midi files and the html website format.  The website format allowed for indexing the song titles and linking each title to a midi file arrangement. In this way, I had quick and easy access to my songs for playing along with on my banjo.  The song sound files were recorded onto cassette tapes, which I used for my own play-along practice and for teaching students.  Nothing was put on the Internet at that time.
 
By 1995 the cassette tapes had been distributed to a few people, including Gary Neuman, an established San Francisco Bay Area musician.  Gary suggested that I start a webpage so others could play-along with the music.  In 1996 I started the first webpage with an obscure address that was difficult to work with.  Eventually in 1998 jbott.com was started.
 
The Songs:
 
At first, the webpage songs were selected for students, a show that our band was practicing for, and sometimes a few verses I was trying to learn. Then I started getting requests from other banjo players for songs they liked.  At banjo shows and jam sessions, I started writing down the songs that were being played.  Ralph Martin (4-String Banjo Hall of Fame) suggested I add "Hit Parade" songs, like the ones he used on the Southern California Banjo Band recordings. The list of songs became large and my music library was small.
 
Thanks to the Internet, eBay and antique stores, I have been able to build up a sheet music library.  Whenever possible I like to use the original sheet music for making my song arrangements.  Second choice is to use good fake books or arrangements from some of my banjo friends.  Last resort is to transcribe the song by ear from a recording, and then have it reviewed by some music scholars I know.
 
The Present:
 
The current jbott.com website has three parts: (1) The Songs Main Page (2) The Beginners Page (3) The Links Page.  These three pages provide access to the songs, instruction materials, sound clips, videos, pdf files, and other supporting pages.  Some of the song pages contain tablature or special notation specific for that song and for Plectrum, 5-String, or Tenor banjos.
 
The song midi files which appear on the website are the product of the following software programs:  Encore, Finale, Band-In-A-Box, and Midisoft Studio.  Software to make the visual aids include:  Autocad, Adobe Acrobat Pro, and Photoshop LE.  Sound Clips are made with Cakewalk Pyro and Cyberlink WaveEditor.  The videos are made with Power Director Ultra.
 
Click here to view my "Update Log".  The Update Log can also be accessed from the top of the Songs Main Page.
 
Happy Picking and Strumming,
Jim Bottorff


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