New Classic Banjo Project

Michael Nix composer, seven-string banjar
Thomas Schuttenhelm composer
Clifton J. Noble, Jr. composer
Jim Dalton composer
Fred J. Bacon composer

Release Date: January 27, 2023
Catalog #: BR8975
Format: Digital
21st Century
Solo Instrumental

APERÇU from composer and banjo innovator Michael Nix challenges listeners to reimagine the banjo as an instrument. The music, part of Nix’s New Classic Banjo Project, is brought to life by Nix’s 7-string Banjar, incorporating a wide range of folk and classical styles to forge an entirely new genre: New Classical Banjo. The album's title, which translates to “A survey or sketch; or an immediate impression, especially an insight” delivers just that. Koromanti, the opening piece on the album, is based on the very first notated banjo music, a transcription of music performed at a gathering of enslaved people in Jamaica in 1688. Banjar Lam Plearn, meanwhile, pays homage to the Mor Lam style traditionally performed in the Issan region of Thailand. These, and many other Aperçu shine through this remarkable collection of music.


Hear the full album on YouTube

"Essentially crafting a new genre of New Classical Banjo, Nix has us rethink all the possibilities of his instrument, and it makes for a very interesting listen."

Take Effect

An Inside Look

Aperçu from Michael Nix

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Koromanti Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 5:09
02 Barton Cove Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 2:38
03 Banjar Lam Plearn: Khene Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:02
04 Banjar Lam Plearn: Lam Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:05
05 Banjar Lam Plearn: Phin Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 4:11
06 Keningale’s Mystery Serenade Thomas Schuttenhelm Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 4:22
07 Aperçu: Aperçu 1 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:40
08 Aperçu: Aperçu 2 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:03
09 Aperçu: Aperçu 3 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:56
10 Aperçu: Aperçu 4, Chorale Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 2:37
11 Aperçu: Aperçu 5 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 2:30
12 NixPix Clifton J. Noble, Jr. Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 10:40
13 Wintersong Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 3:39
14 Overcome: I. surrounding hate Jim Dalton Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 4:12
15 Overcome: II. forcing it to surrender Jim Dalton Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 4:40
16 Ghost Dance (Something Shivery) Fred J. Bacon Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 3:11
17 Spanish Fandango Variations: Theme Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:07
18 Spanish Fandango Variations: Variation 1 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:06
19 Spanish Fandango Variations: Variation 2 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:14
20 Spanish Fandango Variations: Variation 3 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:32
21 Spanish Fandango Variations: Variation 4 Michael Nix Michael Nix, seven-string banjar 1:07

Recorded June 27-July 1, 2022 at Riverview Productions in Gill MA
Producer Michael Nix
Engineer, Editing & Mixing Greg Snedeker
Mastering Brad Michel

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Sullivan

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Michael Nix


Composer and banjo innovator Michael Nix writes and performs new classical music for banjo and banjo hybrids that explores both the history of America's beloved instrument as well as modern day influences. 

Jim Dalton


American composer Jim Dalton is a professor of music theory at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. His works are performed by soloists and ensembles throughout the United States, Canada, and in Europe, including venues such as Musique Nouvelles (Lunel, France); the Kansas Symposium of New Music; Sound: Scotland’s Festival of New Music; and Akademie der Tonkunst (Darmstadt, Germany). He has enjoyed recent premieres by Aaron Larget-Caplan, Carson Cooman, Sharan Leventhal, Stephen Altoft, Transient Canvas, and Scottish Voices.

Dalton is an active performer (solo, chamber, orchestra) on guitar, mandolin, and both tenor and five-string banjos. He has recently played banjo with orchestras in the United States, Mexico, and China. He and his wife, soprano Maggi Smith-Dalton, perform frequently throughout the United States, specializing in historically-informed performance of 19th and early 20th century American music.

Clifton J. Noble Jr.


Clifton J. “Jerry” Noble, Jr.’s musical compositions and arrangements are requested and performed by singers and instrumentalists around the world.  Choruses of all ages and abilities and instrumental ensembles from duos to full orchestras have commissioned and programmed his works.

Many of his compositions, including Pastorale, A Tonic of Wilderness, Windows of the Morning, A Shakespeare Set, Tidings of Great Joy, and numerous arrangements of folk songs and spirituals including The Erie Canal, This Little Light of Mine, Elijah Rock, and others have been written for Smith (treble) choirs.

His vocal music catalog includes many works for mixed choir.

Noble has been commissioned by ensembles including the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Assabet Valley Mastersingers, the Holyoke Civic Symphony Orchestra, the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra, Music in Deerfield, the Canticle Singers of Baltimore, the Bel Canto Singers of Nevada, the Cooperating Colleges of Greater Springfield, Young Singers of Greater Westfield, the Children’s Chorus of Springfield, and the Western MA Young People’s Philharmonia.

Among the acclaimed solo artists who have commissioned Noble are saxophonist Lynn Klock, baritone Donald Boothman, violinist Joel Pitchon, cellist Anup Kumar Biswas, and pianist Monica Jakuc-Leverett.

His studies at Amherst College (B.A., 1983) and Smith College (M.A., 1988) focused on music composition and English literature. Composition teachers included M. Lewis Spratlan at Amherst and Donald Wheelock at Smith.

Thomas Schuttenhelm


Thomas Schuttenhelm is a composer and guitarist whose compositions have a strong conceptual component. His music uses embodied programs and alludes to his musical, literary, poetic, visual, and theatrical influences. Much of his music is the result of collaborations with musicians, poets, actors, and artists. The music he writes is often as much ‘about’ the people he collaborates with as it is for them to perform. He is the Artistic Director at Network for New Music in Philadelphia.


Aperçu: A survey or sketch as in an outline; or an immediate impression, especially an insight.

Koromanti is based on the first notated banjo music transcribed at a festival of the enslaved in Jamaica in 1688 and published 1707.

Barton Cove was written after a reconciliation ceremony between the Abanaki people and the select board of Turners Falls MA on the shores of the Connecticut River near a King Philip's War battle site.

Banjar Lam Plearn
When touring provinces of Thailand known as the Issan region, I was introduced to the style of music known as Mor Lam, inspiring me to apply the style to the Banjar.

Keningale's Mystery Serenade
In a Julian Hawthorne story “Ken’s Mystery” (1883) Keningale describes his encounter with a 200-year-old woman who was “awakened from centuries of sleep” by a banjo song.– Thomas Schuttenhelm

I write these Aperçu as an introduction to my ideas for a New Classic Banjo style.

Wintersong was composed for a commission of a classical/jazz crossover piece that could be a vehicle for improvisation.

Ghost Dance (Something Shivery)
Bacon’s 1929 novelty composition was transcribed from a promotional 78-rpm recording issued with the sale of his banjos.

Spanish Fandango Variations was written after researching published 19th Century variation sets for banjo and guitar in the U.S. Library of Congress collection.

- Michael Nix

NixPix is a cheerful rondo that combines country picking, jazzy harmonies, and some Van Halen-inspired triplets in a romp for Michael Nix’s seven-string Banjar that is equally at home in the parlor or on the concert stage.

- Clifton J. Noble Jr.

Written on the head of Pete Seeger’s banjo was “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” The two movements use musical metaphors to express the ideas embodied in the movement titles.

-Jim Dalton