Saturday, January 10, 2009

Helpful Website by Lee Vinson (Boston Symphony Orchestra)

W. Lee Vinson, percussionist, Boston Symphony Orchestra, lecturer (percussion) at Boston University Collge of Fine Arts, and vice president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society has an interesting and informative website loaded with content, including articles he's written, warmups, exercises and technical routines, and photos and information about some of the drums in his personal collection.

Here is a sample of some of the drums and Lee's brief but interesting commentary about them.

George B. Stone Field Drum

George B. Stone, whose son George Lawrence Stone was better known as a teacher and author, was probably the most prominent drum builder in Boston in the early 20th century. This drum, built in 1927, has a beautifully preserved maple shell and the original wire wound silk snares. Despite the fire engine red color, it has the kind of big, warm sound you would expect from an 80 year old maple drum.

Thompson & Odell Snare Drum

This is the BSO's oldest snare drum! Kept for many years by Frank Epstein, it has now come into my possession. While it is dusty and in need of repair, this drum tells quite a story in many ways.

Thompson & Odell was a Boston based musical instrument manufacturer and music publishing company from 1884 - 1909. Many of their instruments were produced by third parties and merely distributed by Thompson & Odell as was the case with this drum.

This drum has seen multiple modifications over the years. I believe this may have begun its life as a rope drum or perhaps a rod tension drum with no posts attached to the shell. The snare throw-off and maroon colored paint were also added at some point. While the reinforcing rings inside of the drum are now unattached, the manufacturers label is still intact and legible.

This drum is currently awaiting a thorough cleaning and a new snare side head. I'm still researching Thompson & Odell so hopefully new information will follow!

Duplex Thumbscrew Snare Drum

Listed in Duplex catalogs as either the 'Thumbscrew Orchestra Drum' or the 'Improved Thumbscrew Band and Drum Corps Drum', this drum requires oversized 15.5" calfskin heads. The 6" x 15" size suggests that this instrument was either a large concert drum or a small field drum.

While similar models were produced by other prominent companies of the day including Leedy and George B. Stone, the particular throw-off on this drum was a feature available only from Duplex. The throw-off lever is stamped "PAT. APLD FOR" which places this drum sometime after 1913.

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