The banjo is a stringed instrument with, typically, four or five strings, which vibrate a membrane of plastic material or animal hide stretched over a circular frame. Primitive forms of the instrument were fashioned by enslaved Africans in Colonial America, adapted from several African instruments.
There are several ideas on where the name banjo came from. It may derive from the Kimbundu term mbanza. Some etymologists believe it comes from a dialectal pronunciation of the Portuguese bandore or from an early anglicisation of the Spanish word bandurria, though other research suggests that it may come from a Senegambian term for a bamboo stick formerly used for the instrument's neck.
The modern banjo comes in a variety of forms, including four- and five-string versions. A six-string version, tuned and played similar to a guitar, has gained popularity. In almost all of its forms, the banjo's playing is characterized by a fast arpeggiated plucking, although there are many different playing styles.
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