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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.
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.
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
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