Sunday, January 6, 2019

New Old Stock, In the Box, ca. 1998 or later McDonagh 10-hole Regimental Model Fife with Fingering Chart

A friend came upon a new, old stock, in the box, 10-hole McDonagh fife, Regimental Model, complete with fingering chart.  And he gave it to me!  How sweet is that?

If you can add any information about the fife, please chime in.

McDonagh Fifes 1958, a new model fife designed by fifer John McDonagh was manufactured in Germany. This model was used by the three corps affiliated with him: The New York Regimentals Fife and Drum Band, St. Benedict's Fife and Drum Corps and St. Anselm's Sr. Fife and Drum Corps. All were located in the Bronx, New York. These fifes were not otherwise available to the public. A short time later a second generation of model evolved, specifically labeled the McDonagh Model and made by Roy Seaman, a music repairman whom John befriended in Manhattan. This model quickly came into popularity. These fifes were mass-produced for sale to the entire fife and drum community. They were two-piece instruments with a dual conical bore – the foot joint tapered down from the joint to about an inch before terminus, where the bore cone reversed itself and opened up again slightly. They used the popular flute and piccolo designs of the 1830s, where "cone" flutes were the rage and most common. The cone flutes had fallen out of favor to the cylindrical flutes designed by Boehm, though fifes and piccolos remained popular among folk music performers.
As would be expected, these fifes were notably more internally in tune than most previous fifes, since the designs of the 1830s fell from favor, and had the added value of being tunable with each other (by sliding the joint or the head cork). In addition, they gave the player greater dynamic control and could be played even louder than traditional fifes, the result of the lower cone in the bore. At first, only six hole (Model J) fifes were made, but by 1960, McDonagh designed and Seaman manufactured a 10-hole (Model L). Two of the holes were used by RH2 – covering only one of the two produced F natural. Some players found this quite difficult, so eventually (c. 1970s), an 11-hole model was introduced, the Model M, with both the original double RH2 holes and an RH thumb hole to choose from for the F natural. These were actually ideas derived from several makers of the days of the 19th century, including Giorgi, even though there was no need for F natural in traditional fife music.
Around this time, Roy Seaman had been deeply involved in the making of piccolos under his name, the body style of which resembled the McDonagh Model fife. Roy decided to retire from actively manufacturing fifes and sold the operation of making McDonagh fifes to an apprentice, Larry Trout. Operating on his own, Trout soon chose to mark the fife with his own "fish" symbol, which replaced the script mark of Roy Seaman's name. In time, the quality of the instrument eventually suffered and other models of fifes began to emerge in the United States.
McDonagh had stayed uninvolved from active fife and drum performance, teaching and composition for many years. As new generations of fifers emerged, John remained reclusive to himself and a few close friends, preferring to stay in his apartment in mid-town Manhattan. That began to change in 1988 and John began to meet privately at his home with some former fifing colleagues and a few newer players. John also renewed his collaborative friendship with Roy Seaman, who was now living in Arizona.
In 1997, John McDonagh, along with a newly formed fife study group, decided that the time had come to make changes to the original 1960 ten-hole fife. A new manufacturer, Wilson Woods, with critical oversight from Roy Seaman once again, produced the new fife, designated the Regimental Model. Along with this new fife, a number of fingering changes were suggested to take full advantage of the improved design. For a number of years, both Larry Trout and Wilson Woods made McDonagh fifes jointly—Trout the fish-marked familiar McDonagh Model and Wilson the Regimental Model. Eventually, both men discontinued making fifes as of 2003.
Most recently, The Cooperman Company, founded by Patrick H Cooperman, took over the manufacture of McDonagh fifes. Cooperman had ventured himself into the concert-fifemaking world in about 1985 with his own version of a two-piece fife, as well as an acoustically correct one-piece version, through the assistance of a few key players. Though the fifes played and sold well, they had not reached the popularity of the McDonagh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

1861 VMI Cadets Drum - Marked to Commemorate the Battle of New Market

1861 VMI Cadets Drum - Marked to Commemorate the Battle of New Market

The Battle of New Market was fought on May 15, 1864, in Virginia during the Valley Campaigns of 1864 in the American Civil War.  A makeshift Confederate army of 4,100 men, which included cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), forced Union Major General Franz Sigel and his army out of the Shenandoah Valley. The cadets were integral to the Confederate victory at New Market. Source:  Photos courtesy of Ron Maness.

VMI's 10 cadet fatalities are remembered on the drum

For V.M.I.
Ship to
Lexington, VA
June, 1860

Blog reader Terry Cornett sent a copy of his email correspondence with Ron Maness:

On Sunday, October 21, 2018, 2:33:53 PM CDT, peirce2ovc wrote:

Hi Terry,

Thank you for your response. Attached are photos of the drum.

Obviously, it is ID'd to VMI. The drum is small: 8.625" deep and 14" in diameter measured outside the rims. It appears unaltered. The lower edge of the drum is carved out at two opposing points to facilitate the snare.

Written in pencil inside the drum (and difficult to photograph) is what appears to read "Y. Lilley Maker 1860". I'm not sure about the Lilley name. It's the best I can make out.

The drum has come out of a very old collection and everything else in it is righteous. The drum and its markings appear good, but I am not a drum expert.

With the drum are remnants of the rope and two leather tighteners (they are small and in poor shape).

Your thoughts would be appreciated.


-------- Original message --------
From: T Cornett
To: peirce2ovc
Subject: Re: Drum Authentication

Hello Ron,
I will try, but I will forward the images to several others who may have more expertise in identification. In general, if there is any kind of evidence on the drum, such as pencil or ink inscriptions, the highest value could be in "as found" condition. If there are no historically relevant indications and the instrument is sound (or could be made sound) then restoration to playing condition could be warranted.

Terry Cornett

-------- Original message --------
On Saturday, October 20, 2018, 10:21:01 PM CDT, peirce2ovc wrote:

Hi Terry,

If I sent you photos of what presents itself as an 1860 production rope tensioned drum,  could you help authenticate it? The item needs restoration, if it is a real drum. I suppose you might be interested in providing these services?

Ron Maness


Facsimile of an 1862 Robert W. Warren Drum

Facsimile of an 1862 Robert W. Warren Drum

(originally published in this blog 11/29/2010)

A viewer recently wrote: Here's the latest project I just finished. I wrapped my beat up WFL drum in ash veneer, which I had flat cut from a single log (not spliced together from multiple logs like most veneer), so it looks like it's a steambent solid shell with the overlapped seam. On the right is my 1862 Robert W. Warren drum.


Recreating mid-19th Century John Lowell Tugs

Recreating mid-19th Century John Lowell Tugs

(originally published in this blog 11/29/2010)
A friend wrote me recently saying that he was interested in the exact dimensions of the original leather ears on my mid-19th century drum pictured in "Drum by John Lowell of Bangor, Maine", this blog, March 5, 2008.
I sent him one of the original ears to copy. Here's a photo of the original and one of his reproductions:

Note that the original has a brass shield stapled to it. My refurbished John Lowell drum is discussed in the above-referenced blog post.

Amazing Drum and Fife Manuscripts Found

Amazing Drum and Fife Manuscripts Found

(originally published in this blog 3/10/2012)
Reader and Contributor ANONYMOUS writes:

Drummers and fifers-

This is a huge discovery...manuscripts from Sgt. Henke and Sgt. Moore, who were instructors at Gov. Island for many years. I am going to see if Ken Barlow can post these to 28 megs total. Here are the first 2 pages:

Three Camps, Reveille, Slow Scotch, Austrian, Tin Kettle


Hessian, Dutch, Quick Scotch, Yankee Doodle, National Air

Not much drumming but there is a drumbeat for Old Dan Tucker, which apparently was used for Supper Call.

Courtesy of Rob Martin, by way of Jim Moffet, to Ed Fredriks, to me [ANONYMOUS].

Please forward this to others. I am going through my 3 email accounts and sending this to everyone I have corresponded with regarding drum and fife over the years.

After a quick glance, it looks like the reveille is very close to Strube...



Lyon & Healy Bass Drum, ca. 1890 - Comments from a Reader

Lyon & Healy Bass Drum, ca. 1890

Comments regarding this drum in an email dated 5/1/07 from ANONYMOUS:

"Your drum [Lyon & Healy bass drum, ca. 1890 with star inlay and inlaid circumferential stripes, design "Monarch"] appears to be in pretty good shape. If I were you I would just replace the heads unless there is significant splitting of the shell. Tucking skin heads is really not very difficult. I would practice on a snare drum before tackling a large bass drum, however.

"You might also consider George Carroll. He could provide you with skin heads at a ... [low] price ... or do a complete restoration .... I am fortunate enough to live down the street from his shop in Alexandria [Virginia]. He has a small sample of his drum collection there. Many say that Mr. Carroll is the most knowledgeable person in the world on the subject of rope drums and historical rudimental drumming. His resume speaks for itself. He started the Old Guard Fife, Drum, and Bugle Corps. and also the Fifes and Drum Corp at Colonial Williamsburg in addition to transcribing all of the old drum manuals from the 18th and 19th centuries.

"Incidentally George used to own the Excelsior drum company's catalog. It was either lost or stolen.

"If you need any other advice, let me know.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Tale of Two Eagles

A Tale of Two Eagles
by Michael Pikunas
Youngstown, Ohio

It was the morning of November 12, 1861, and at first glance the youthful federal soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were not overjoyed by the unfamiliar sights and smells around them. They had landed at Hatteras Inlet, North Carolina which, compared to the lush green forests and farms of Eastern Pennsylvania, presented to them an endless and desolate expanse of bleached white sand. This was their first journey away from their homes in Schuylkill County, a region comprised of small coal mining towns near the Schuylkill River. One of those small towns, Palo Alto, lay on the south shore of the Schuylkill which flows eastward toward Philadelphia, less than one hundred miles away.

And just fifty miles to the east was Bethlehem, settled in 1741 by a Christian sect of German Methodists called Moravians.  The Germans “brought with them a high regard for education and a love for music."1 Just like those from Palo Alto, the young men from Bethlehem responded to the call for volunteers to put down the rebellion and don the federal blue. 
But unlike their comrades from Palo Alto, the Bethlehemians had not only relatives but also brethren in Bethania, North Carolina.  Settled in 1759, also by Moravians, Bethania was a farm town not too far from Salem, North Carolina, the Southern home of the Moravians.  Like their northern brethren, the Bethanians enlisted to serve, not to put down the rebellion, but to don the confederate gray and support it.

These blue clad and gray clad Moravians had more than their patriotism in common; they shared a talent for music and their Christian heritage, complete with its signs and symbols.  "In their boarding schools they learned to draw their great Moravian symbol, the Star of Bethlehem.  In this fashion, by drawing the shapes of a pyramid and gluing the shapes together they created a multi-pointed star."2  As the clouds of war darkened, many of the Moravians, both men and boys, would join their respective ranks, not as soldiers, but as musicians.
Following the first cannon blasts at Fort Sumter, Moravian musicians from Salem, also known as the Wachovia Region, or Piedmont, formed three bands, initially named as militia units.  "The Forsyth Grays" became Company E of the Eleventh Regiment, North Carolina Volunteers. This Company changed later to the Twenty-first Regiment, North Carolina Troops.   Forming soon after was the Bethania Brass Band, also known as the "Confederate Stars" which became Company F and later Company I of the Thirty-third Regiment, North Carolina Troops.  Finally, there was the Salem Brass Band, which would famously become known as the 26th North Carolina Regimental Band."3  They would all wear the gray. 
At Hatteras Inlet the young soldiers in blue eventually began to frolic in the surf, gathering what they called "secesh" shells.  They’'d ship the secesh shells home to their relatives in wooden crates onboard ocean-borne "steamers."4  For now they had every reason to enjoy themselves because the sobering slaughter at Shiloh and Antietam was still on the horizon, and General Ambrose Burnside's star was on the rise. 
They didn't know what lay ahead, that three years hence their skills and ingenuity would be called upon to attempt a bold and decisive end to the war, a nightmarish, seemingly endless war. They would tunnel underneath the rebel lines at the last citadel of the Confederacy, Petersburg, and plant a ton of explosives creating what would be known ever after as "The Crater" and the demise of General Ambrose Burnside's career.
But outside of making history, during the course of their war, the soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania would capture two eagles - two American Bald Eagles - making them souvenirs and shipping them back home to Schuylkill County. "A live eagle was captured after putting up a fight on the 48th's picket line at Hatteras Inlet."5  The other eagle, a defiant eagle, hand painted by an unknown artist on the face of a rebel snare drum was captured on a battlefield late in the war.

About the Moravian Star

Drum Head clearly marked "LANE BAND"
thereby attributing the drum to the Confederacy,
notwithstanding the eagle motif which pre-dated
the Civil War and North Carolina's secession from the Union

Hand-drawn Moravian 6-pointed Star of Bethlehem
(a 2-dimensional representation of intersecting 3-dimensional 4-sided pyramids)
and the hand-written words "LANE BAND"in the same hand,
thereby possibly further linking the band and the southern Moravians

Pre-Civil War Eagle Motif

Pen and Ink inscription reading
"Stellwagon, Palo Alto, Penna" thereby linking
the drum with the 48th Pennsylvania

Detail of hand-drawn Star of Bethlehem

The bottom drum head of the rebel eagle drum bears a number of six pointed stars, one of them large, "shaped in the same fashion as drawn by Moravian boarding school students in the mid-19th Century at Old Salem North Carolina.”6  Printed below the larger star by the same hand are two words "LANE BAND." Appearing to the side of those markings in bold period ink is the name and home town of the soldier of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry who "captured" the drum to send home to Schuylkill County - (George W.) "Stellwagon, Palo Alto, Penna".
The snare drum’s dimensions are 12-1/2" tall and 14-1/2" in diameter.  The shell is uncut.  Next to the spread-winged eagle motif is a symmetrical tack pattern that consists of a circle around the vent hole encompassed by a large square. The hoops, heads, leather tugs and rope tensioners are original. The free-hand painted motif consists of a spread-winged bald eagle on a gold sun-rayed blue field. The bald eagle is grasping a broken flagstaff of a furled federal flag in its beak. The eagle, with the broken flagstaff in its beak is portrayed on the ground with pointed green ivy leaves and red berries. In its talons is a clutch of arrows.
The drum shows a substantial amount of use and field wear.  It bears no federal markings, such as "E Pluribus Unum," "U.S.," etc.  Images of actual federal-issue drums carried by drummers of the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry can be seen on the 48th Pennsylvania website.7
George Stellwagon, an infantryman of the 48th Pennsylvania, as far as we know, was with his regiment at the battles of Roanoke Island, New Berne, Second Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain and Antietam, where he sustained a serious head wound while waiting in line to cross Burnside's Bridge.  Stellwagon recovered to re-join the 48th in 1864 for the Battle of the Wilderness onward.
What is the meaning of the words "LANE BAND"?  The words printed by the hand of the Johnny Reb musician himself represent the Confederate regiment and brigade to which the ‘rebel eagle drum belonged: the Thirty-third Regiment, North Carolina Troops of General James Henry Lane's Brigade. General Lane received his brigadier star in November 1862 following the death of General Lawrence O. Branch at Antietam\Sharpsburg.
And how do we know this?  The Reminiscences of Oliver J. Lehman reveal the story.8  Known as O. J., Lehman was a Moravian musician from Bethania, North Carolina who enlisted in Lane's Brigade and became band master to the Thirty-third North Carolina Regimental Band.  Lehman chose to serve with his fellow musicians who were formerly members of the Bethania Brass Band the "Confederate Stars."  "The Thirty-third Regimental Band, although assigned to regimental status, was actually the brigade band for General Lane's Brigade, which included the Seventh, Eighteenth, Twenty-eighth, Thirty-third, and Thirty-seventh North Carolina regiments."9  The Brigade was attached to Pender's Division, Third Army Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.
While the live bald eagle at Hatteras Inlet put up a ferocious fight before succumbing to capture by a lieutenant and two privates of the 48th Pennsylvania armed with a fusillade of sea shells, the eagle on the rebel drum of General Lane's Band witnessed a much more prolonged and bloody struggle.
We can only speculate that the ‘rebel drum eagle heard the screams of wounded soldiers about to be consumed by flames in the woods at the Battle of Chancellorsville and witnessed the aftermath of the accidental death of General Stonewall Jackson caused by friendly fire from a sister regiment in General Lane's Brigade.  We can only speculate how close it got to the brave faces of General Lane's infantryman as they formed the battle line on Seminary Ridge before marching toward those horrible cannon on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg.  Did it inspire those brave soldiers by playing their favorite tunes Bonnie Blue Flag and Dixie?
We do know, according to Oliver Lehman: "During all battles until the final surrender, General Lane's Band was in the opening of each, caring for the wounded and taking them to the field hospital just behind the line of battle. So our duties were not only as musicians but also as ambulance corps. We were often under severe shelling and small arms fire but we escaped almost miraculously".10
We can feel confident that the rebel drum was there when fate brought together the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and the Thirty-third North Carolina Regiment. We can surmise the day of the eagle’s capture in the bloody muck at Spotsylvania or near the last desperate ditches of the federal Sixth Corps' breakthrough at Petersburg.
But the eagle emblazoned on the ‘rebel drum, although forced to surrender, has never surrendered its indomitable mystique.  For when all is quiet, with an imaginative ear pressed against the vent hole, one can hear off in the distance, feint but unmistakable, spine tingling, the echo of the Rebel Yell.


I would like to recognize two persons in particular who helped me with their knowledge, expertise and literary resources on the topic of Moravian Civil War history in Salem, North Carolina, namely, Historian Philip Dunigan and Office Manager Sarah Durham.
And to express my appreciation and gratitude for the invaluable forensic and technical skills of my friend, Ed Carlini.
And to my sister Anne Marie "Bunchy" Schwelm, for her moral and literary support and assistance, and for the many years of sharing the joy of Our Great American History.

1 Hall, Harry H. 2006. A Johnny Reb Band from Salem: The Pride of Tarheelia. Raleigh N.C.: Office of Archives and History, N.C. Dept. of Cultural Resources. 
2 Moravian Historical Society. About the Moravian Star, (accessed June 10, 2018) 
3 Hall, 2006. 
4 Hoptack, John David.  2017. The Civil War letters of Private Daniel Reedy, Company F, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry,
5 Hoptack, 2017
6 Moravian Historical Society 
7 Hoptack, John David. 2017. The 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry,
8 Lehman, O. J. Reminiscences of the War Between the States, unpublished manuscript.  Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina State Archives. 
9 Ferguson, Benny Pryor. 1987. The Bands of the Confederacy: An Examination of the Musical and Military Contributions of the Bands and Musicians of the Confederate States of America. North Texas State University.
10 Lehman, O. J. Reminiscences of the War Between the States, unpublished manuscript. Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina State Archives.


Monday, January 1, 2018

CFD - Marching On with Howard Goulden

Marching On, A Goulden Collection of Artifacts

by Matt Alling
CT Pro Percussion

First things first, the museum building is currently closed to the public while we undergo some fairly substantial and way overdue renovations.  The entire lower level of the building has been gutted and is being completely redone and in the coming weeks we will also be getting a new roof to ensure that our wonderful collection of artifacts are protected.  In addition to all this we are also working on brand new displays in the main hall at the museum that can be viewed in person on June 11th when we reopen for Connecticut’s day of tourism.  And if all that isn’t enough, the Company of Fifers and Drummers launched a brand new website two weeks ago and in the museum section, you will be able to see pictures and research notes on many of the drums in the collection. This is a work in progress because there is a lot of information yet to go on the website and the man hours involved with adding all this information is staggering. The museum has reached a turning point and you can check it out in person on June 11th, I will be there all day to show off this amazing collection and answer questions. If you can’t make it out and still want to support the museum please consider making a donation through the site to help with restorations and general upkeep of the building and the collection.

When I started my project at the museum there was a large white rod tension bass drum and a small snare that were sitting high on a shelf with a hat sitting on top of the snare. This is where this pair of drums has sat for the last 3 decades. As it turns out, the drums were part of a larger set and had been displayed incorrectly for this entire time. After being shown a box of drum parts that was in archives I found a few pieces marked Leedy and started to piece together a wonderful puzzle. I also found a trap case with lots of parts and cymbals plus a box of old bass drum clanger pedals from the 1920s. 
                                                            Pictures 1 & 2

Finding parts and pieces to that went with these drums was great but there was still a bit of confusion as to how to properly set everything up. There were a few pieces that that didn’t make sense and there were also pieces that did make sense but it was still unclear as to how they should attached the drums and exactly what it should look like when it is all set up. This started a lot of digging and phone calls to try and track down a picture of how it should look all set up. What I was able to find made me very happy and allowed me to properly assemble this wonderful set of drums. 

        Picture 3 & 3A
Your eyes are not deceiving you, these are not field drums but they are amongst the many drums that will be on display at the Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum in Ivoryton CT when we reopen on June 11th. These would be the only non- marching drums in the museum collection but the man that played these was no stranger to marches. This collection of drums was played Howard Goulden and for those of you who are not familiar with Howard, he played percussion with John Philip Sousa , the king of all marches, from 1920 until his death in 1932; during this time, Goulden was his principal percussionist. After Sousa’s death, Goulden owned a drum shop here in Bridgeport CT.
The set was custom made for Goulden by the Leedy drum company around 1924 for use with John Philip Sousa’s then experimental jazz band. Leedy custom made the kit as a one off, completely custom kit and was designed so that Goulden could play it standing up. The snare drum sits in a basket that is mounted to the top of the bass drum and there is a cymbal hanger and a piece of another mounting bracket that, at one time held a Chinese style tacked tom that was common for the time period. I had thought that this tom had been completely lost to time but I have very recently seen photos taken in the archives some time ago that show that the tacked tom did indeed make it to the museum with the rest of the kit so I am hopeful that it will turn up and the kit will once again be complete. The hardware included with the kit is gold plated brass and has held up pretty well over the years since Goulden played the kit. 
Picture 4
The kit is made up of the following:
26”x8” bass drum - white
12”x4” Snare drum – white
14”x5” snare drum – gold (Klondike gold finish)
Chinese tacked tom – Yet to be located
Chinese cymbal  Approx. 17”
Chinese Cymbal – 14”
Clanger cymbal mounted to bass drum hoop
Wood block
Bass drum pedal with cymbal beater attached

The Trap case had in it:

7 drum stick (1 pair displayed with kit)
1 two side bass drum mallet
1 timpani style mallet
2 Xylophone mallets (short)
5 bass drum anchor spurs
1 snare drum stand
1 cymbal arm
2 wood blocks (1 mounted on kit)
1 wood block mount (on kit)
1 top mounted bass drum pedal 
1 slide whistle
1 fiber trap case
1 bass mounted clanger cymbal (on kit)

The search for information on how to set everything up included numerous phone calls to other museums and vintage drum historians; including the Sousa Archives in Champlain Illinois and the records office for The Presidents Own United States Marine Corps Band.  The Sousa archives supplied me with a picture of Goulden standing behind his kit with the Sousa Jazz band standing in a line on either side of him and the larger gold snare drum visible in the photo. The Marine Corps Band Staff Sgt. That I spoke with lead me to a picture in a book titled “Leedy Topics” written by Rob Cook and compiled several issues of the Leedy Topics magazine and put them into book form.  The copy of the photo they had was not very good since it had been photo copied back in the early 1980s but I am friends with Rob Cook and travel out to do the Chicago Drum Showevery year which he runs, so I called him and told him about what we had.  His book is out of print so Rob was kind enough to take his copy off the shelf and take a picture of the page with Goulden and his drum set and in this picture it is just him, without the band and the smaller white snare is visible. I also want to mention that my friend Marc Christman was with me at the museum when I had the bass drum and snare drum off the shelf early on and Marc was the one that flipped the drum over in the wooden cradle it was sitting in and found the three wing nuts attached to the shell and figured out the snare drum mounted to the bass drum. Also, vintage drum guru and Leedy drum nut Mark Cooper of Coopers Vintage Drums, who helped verify the age of the drums and was also helpful regarding set up. 

The last piece included here only helps to solidify the already solid and undeniable provenance of these drums and that is the hat that you see sitting on top of the drums in the pictures. The hat was Goulden’s Sousa band uniform hat and has “SOUSA” Embroidered across the front. It is a wonderful piece of history and a very detailed look into the equipment used by Goulden when he played with Sousa.

After talking with the Sousa Archives and Museum, the Marine Corps Band and a few other museums that have Sousa exhibits, the only other drum that I have been able to locate on display at a museum that was used with John Philip Sousa is the Tom Mills drum, on display at the National Museum of Musical Instruments in South Dakota. It gives me a great sense of pride to know that the museum has such a unique and rare piece of history that can’t be seen anywhere else. There were only a handful of drummers that played with Sousa over the years, many items belonging to the Marine Corps band while he was band leader so the number of drums floating around out there that were used with Sousa is going to be really small and, in fact, would make this one of the rarest items currently owned by the museum.  This item alone will make a visit to the museum worth the trip but it is only one of many treasures waiting to be seen at the Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum

This collection was part of many artifacts donated by Bill Rotella

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Jim Clark at 2012 U.S.A.R.D. Convention

Published on Apr 25, 2012
Jim Clark discusses the history of fife & drum in New England and demonstrates some of the music that would have been heard in the 16th through 19th Centuries.

Thank you Jim Clark and thank you Joseph Gillotti.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview with George Carroll: Marching and Field Percussion Historian

Interview with George Carroll: Marching and Field Percussion Historian
as interviewed by Jeff Hartsough and Derrick Logozzo


Sons of Liberty Drumline

Question re 1803 US Army Regimental Drum

A reader emailed to say:


"I came across your blog when researching information regarding a specific style drum and I hope you would be so good to share any information you may have regarding such.

"I am trying to ascertain what colors U.S. Army regimental drums would have been painted in 1803.  I have a snare drum built by Nathan Carroll which is painted in the traditional blue body with red hoops.  I purchased it for the 1812 bicentennial.  However, now I am researching the army during the construction of the Natchez Trace road in the old southwest territory in the early 1800's.

"I have read that U.S. Army military drums during the early Federal period were painted with blue hoops, blue body, and thirteen federal style stars.  So, my question is... when did the color change from the "Federal style" to the red/blue combination seen during the War of 1812 period?  Additionally, the book 'Tailor Made, Trail Worn' illustrated by Michael Haynes shows a Lewis & Clark ca.1804 drummer with the red/blue design although he gives very few details on the drum.  He does state that the emblem design on the drum is conjectural but I don't know if the colors of the drum are conjectural as well.

"If you have any information on this subject I would be greatly appreciative if you would share.

"Thank you.


"Jeff Brewer"

Please feel free to provide any responses by way of the comment section below, or email us at

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Very Brief History of the Trumpet and Bugle Through 2006

Trumpet in F by A. G. Guichard, Paris, ca. 1840 featuring Stölzel piston valves. From the National Music Museum.

A Very Brief History of the Trumpet and Bugle Through the Eighteenth Century:

Evolution of the Military Bugle in the Nineteenth Century:

Evolution of the North American Competition Bugle 1900 through 1967:

Evolution of the North American Competition Bugle 1968 through 2006:

On Rounded Bearing Edges


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

More Historic Photos

SOURCE: Artifact Percussion, April 9, 2017,

Artifact of the Week: Faces Without Names

Artifacts are storytellers. They connect us - to our past, to long-gone strangers whom we’ve never met, to each other, and even to ourselves. To study an artifact is powerful and necessary. It is a responsibility that we have as human beings - and as drummers and percussionists - to preserve the stories of our craft and to preserve the names, faces, and teachings of those who came before us. Aaron and I find inspiration in those stories, which is part of the reason why we so enjoy taking the time to help protect that history and discover new editions of it, no matter how small.

This is the story of one small artifact: a roughly 5"x7" glass negative found (in its digital file form) in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs online database. It is one of about 70,000 glass and film negatives given to the Library in 1955 by the Harris & Ewing photography studio of Washington, D.C. When this particular negative was digitized, Library staff gave it a simple title (“Drummers”) based on the only information they could gather from the content of the photo itself - that four of the five men pictured were carrying drums. There was no accompanying title or caption and the smallest date range they could gather was that it was taken between 1923–1929 (based on other nearby negatives in the collection).

Immediately, this image fascinated me. Clearly there was a reason this moment was captured. I had to know what that reason was and why that reason didn’t already travel with this negative. As always, discovery begins with questions. And I had a ton of questions.
With some logical reasoning and a little bit of research, I was able to determine that the man receiving the award in the image was the one and only Frank S. Fancher: renowned rudimental snare drummer, legendary record-breaker, and all-around badass boundary pusher.

Frank Fancher, an oft-overlooked rudimental snare drum legend, posing in his medal-covered drum corps uniform with his drum and his trophies in the early 1920s. The centered text reads: “Frank Fancher, “Wizard of the Drum,” World’s Champion Rudimental Drummer.” To the left it says: “182 — 1st prizes. Cups and Medals.”

I began my research on the guess that the non-uniformed man had to be a relatively “big name” in rudimental drumming during the 1920s. I knew that there were several powerhouse drummers during the ‘20s who would regularly compete in drum corps contests held at American Legion posts all around the country and that rudimental drumming, and these contests, still had close ties to the military. After all, during the first two decades of the 20th century, the snare drum in America was just starting to see a shift from the battlefield to the concert hall. Many of the most notable rudimental drum instructors during this era were veterans of the Spanish-American war. Some of the greatest and most important names in drumming flourished during the ’20s: J. Burns Moore, Sanford Moeller, Dan English to name just a few. William F. Ludwig’s drum company was still just becoming a household name in the percussion community.

Wait. There it was. Drum companies in the 20s were just starting to collect endorsers - the best players they could get - and where else to advertise their endorsements but in their catalogs? So off I went (one tab over in my browser) to [Sidebar: If you haven’t been to, you really need to go there. Right now. It’s amazing.] Anyway, I figured I would start with Ludwig, the biggest name in drums at the time (and the company most contracted by the U.S. government to manufacture service drums). I scrolled through a few catalogs - 1922, nope…1923, no endorsers in that one either…1924, nothing. Finally, as I’m scrolling through the 1927 catalog - debating whether I’m even going in the right direction at all - there he is. Frank S. Fancher. And he’s wearing a badge in this photo - an identical badge to the one being bestowed upon him in the LOC negative.

Frank S. Fancher, World’s Champion snare drummer, making an appearance in the 1927 Ludwig catalog. This headshot was likely taken on the same day as the Harris & Ewing negative.

So I had a name, and from there I was able to finish the story. Fancher’s name appeared in a few Ludwig company histories (and one Slingerland history). There were a couple web pages about his relationship with drum craftsman Odell M. Chapman and Fancher’s time with Chapman’s Continental Drum Corps of Willimantic, CT. I found the obituaries published in a 1966 issue of the Bridgeport Telegram newspaper and learned that Fancher, “a champion drummer many years ago”, died on Tuesday, February 1st, 1966 - less than a month after his friend, Odell Chapman, passed away at his home in Newport. I learned that Fancher’s drum - the one crafted by Chapman himself - lives on at the Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum in Ivoryton, CT.

I found the last piece of the puzzle in Rob Cook’s The Ludwig Book: A Business History and Dating Guide Book. In that text, Mr. Cook shares a postcard depicting two men - Frank Fancher and William F. Ludwig wearing U.S. Army Band uniforms and carrying Ludwig field drums - with the title “In the Inaugural Parade. Washington, D.C. March 4th, 1925.” There was text on the back of the postcard, too. It reads:
“Frank Fancher and William F. Ludwig were honorary members of the United States Army Band in the inauguration of President Coolidge on March 4th, 1925. Permission to play in the band, and honorary membership, was conferred upon them by Captain Sherman for services rendered [to] the U.S. School of Music and the U.S. Army Band in connection with the promotion of rudimental drumming. On March 3rd, Frank Fancher won the U.S. National Rudimental contest held at the Washington Barracks, DC.”

The postcard in question. An artifact that helps to tell its own story.

So there you have it. One story told by one small artifact. And though this story is but a pinpoint in a much larger and more illustrative narrative, it still matters. It mattered to Frank Fancher. It matters to me. And I’m sure it means something to anybody who has ever held a pair of snare drum sticks and felt the weight of a drum on their shoulders, or heard the sound of their instrument resonate through the concert hall, surrounded by other musicians who love their craft.

What we’ve learned (so far). We have a date, location, event, and a couple names. Unfortunately the Sergeant First Class, Corporal, and Private remain unidentified. Since it seems that they aren’t Army bandsmen (judging by their cap and collar insignia) it will be much harder to identify them, but we are currently trying to find more information on the results of the 1925 U.S. National rudimental contest. If you have any information at all, please let us know.

For me its the journey of the artifact itself. Ninety-two years ago, a photographer with Harris & Ewing, Inc. saw fit to imprint this moment onto a glass plate. He was probably a freelance photographer with the news service and took the photo with the idea of it being sold to a local newspaper - these were two of the biggest names in drumming, in town for the inaugural parade. But, for one reason or another, that never happened. So there it sat, unpublished, in a storage room in the studio at 1313 F Street NW, until George Harris retired in 1955 and gave his entire collection of negatives to the Library of Congress. And somehow, out of 70,000 negatives, this one was one of the 28,000 that were turned into a digital file directly from the original. So thanks to the preservation work by the Prints & Photographs Division staff, I was able to stumble upon it while hanging out with my dog on a Sunday afternoon. (Yeah. The internet is magic.)
But that negative could just as easily have been destroyed. Just like so many one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted snare drums that were thrown away by unknowing grandchildren of Civil War veterans. Or beautiful, hundred-year-old tambourines - with another hundred years of life left in them, at least - that are “upcycled” into primitive wall decorations, never to see a concert hall again. We all collectively, as percussionists, need to preserve these artifacts and the stories they carry with them.
So go explore and go discover and cherish each detail you find. Find the missing pieces of our past and bring them to light. Share them with each other and pass them on to our future generation.
And remember that one day, an artifact will tell your story, too.
Happy hunting.
This was the first edition of our new, weekly Sunday percussive-history hang out. If you dig it, feel free to share with a friend who may also dig it. If you have any questions, please shoot us an email at
Check back next week to learn about one our favorite artifacts in our collection: a one-of-a-kind WFL tambourine that jingle-jangled for astronauts ;)
Recommended reading & viewing:

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