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:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

John G. Pike Civil War Militia Drum

John G. Pike Civil War Militia Drum 

Priced at $1,990 on

Dimensions: 15" x 16.75" x 16.75"
Artist or Maker: John G. Pike

The Drum, A History - excerpt on the History of Drum Rudiments

See .