Field Drums (a/k/a Field of Drums)
“Build it and they will drum.” Dedicated to research, study and comparisons of field drums. Our purpose is to collect information about historical U.S. drums (manufacture, preservation, conservancy, repair, market) for use by scholars, collectors and others. Photographs of drums, and anything related, together with informative narratives, are welcome. Interested readers will find archived postings a good resource. Reach us at BlogMaster@FieldDrums.com.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
More Historic Photos
Artifact of the Week: Faces Without Names
“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.”
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 www.artifactpercussion.com/contact
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 ;)
- The Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog http://www.loc.gov/pictures/
- Drumarchive.com: a free resource for drummers and percussionists containing the largest collection of digitized catalogs on the internet. http://drumarchive.com/
- “In the Beginning - A Look Through the Vent Hole of Frank Fancher’s Competition Field Drum,” written by Matt Alling http://blog.fielddrums.com/2015/09/cfd-in-beginning-look-through-vent-hole.html
- Connecticut’s Fife and Drum Tradition by James Clark - Buy at Amazon
- The Ludwig Book: A Business History and Dating Guide by Rob Cook - Buy at Google Books
- The Drum Collection at the Company of Fifers and Drummers Museum https://companyoffifeanddrum.org/the-museum/museum-collection/drum-collection
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017
1913 National Guard Fife, Drum, Bugle & Bell Corps
Recorded more than 100 years ago. Includes Semper Fidelis, Gary Owen, Hell on the Wabash (with modified drum chart presumably to play at speed), and more.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Civil War Eagle Snare Drum of the 78th New York Infantry, 1st Regiment Eagle Brigade, Cameron Highlanders....
FieldDrums.com Blogmaster's Note: Probably cut-down based on three reasons (the 10" height; the emblazonment is cut-off top and bottom; the tack pattern appears also to have been cut off at the top and the bottom of the shell).
Sold at auction by Heritage Auctions for $4,310.37 (including buyer's premium) on 12/12/2009.
Friday, May 12, 2017
"Liberty" Barrel Drum - What Can You Tell Us About This Drum?
David Hillier, an antiques dealer in W. Townsend, Massachusetts seeks information about this drum. Please reply to BlogMaster@FieldDrums.com.
Monday, April 17, 2017
Friday, March 17, 2017
Antique Regimental Civil War Drum
Antique Regimental Civil War Field Drum, eagle motif. A 1 inch crack in one of the skins and a small hole in the other otherwise very Good original condition. 14 inches tall X 17 inch diameter.
Showtime's Spring Auction, 2017, 1st Session
by Showtime Auction Services
March 31, 10:00 AM EST Live Auction
Ann Arbor, MI, US
Sewell Morse Snare Drum
Civil War Era Sewell Morse Brattleboro Vermont Snare drum in excellent overall condition - drum retains early leather, bindings and gut snares. Minor marks, dings and wear to drum but appropriate for an object of this age, 8" high 18" diameter.
Civil War, Sporting and Firearms Auction
by Duane Merrill & Company
March 25, 9:45 AM EST Live Auction
Williston, VT, US
Marked 9th Vermont Company Grade Infantry Drum
9th Vermont infantry drum. An unusual tenor drum dating from 1830-1840 most likely from milita use prior to war. Drum is marked with 9 VT INF in blue pain on old red surface. It has been repaired and restored by Charles Soistman of "The Rolling Drum Shop"- Drum retains early paint, one original hoop (now damaged) and canvas hanger with two period correct drumsticks. 17 in High x 16 diameter.
Duane Merrill & Company
March 25, 9:45 AM EST
Williston, VT, US
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Story behind the sound: Rare Battle of New Orleans drum on auction block
Story behind the sound: Rare Battle of New Orleans drum on auction blockhttp://www.wwltv.com/news/local/story-behind-the-sound-rare-battle-of-new-orleans-drum-on-auction-block/355069246
In a quiet room filled with art, antiques, jewelry and other auction items valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s no surprise that a snare drum might create the most noise. Probably no one has played the drum in close to 200 years but it could fetch up to $250,000 at an auction next weekend. It’s not the sound, but the story of this drum that’s important.
Its title in the Neal Auction Company catalog is a good starting point: “The Exceptionally Important Jordan B. Noble Infantry Snare Drum.” The drum, which is part of a collection of some 200 items up for bid, likely picked up that descriptive name from its former owner, entrepreneur and collector Gaspar Cusachs, who assembled a collection of more than 200 pieces of local history before his death in 1929.
You may not know Cusachs’ name, but the name Jordan Bankston Noble (which is signed inside the drum) is one you should learn more about. The drum belonged to Noble, who many historians believe was born a slave in Georgia sometime around 1800 and is best known as the teenage drummer who beat the call to arms for General Andrew Jackson’s troops at the Battle of New Orleans. You can imagine how important the role of a military drummer would be on the battlefield, keeping soldiers in step as they marched towards victory.
According to the National Park Service, the teenage Noble joined the U.S. Army in 1813 as a free drummer in the 7th U.S. Regiment, under the command of Gen. Jackson. "Noble was one of nearly 900 free men of color and slave volunteers that had swollen Jackson’s defenses leading into the British invasion (at New Orleans)," according to historians at the Park Service.
“You can’t get any more local than the Battle of New Orleans, and to have an actual piece owned by someone who was there, you can’t get much better than that,” said Marc Fagan, vice president of consignments for Neal Auction Company.
Writing in Louisiana Cultural Vistas, music historian Jerry Brock said that Jordan Noble “was arguably the most celebrated black musician in 19th century New Orleans,” adding that “in a life that bridged nine decades, Noble advanced the cause of black freedom and human rights.” After his death in 1890, The Daily Picayune ran Noble’s obituary under the headline “Answered the Last Roll: Death of the Drummer Boy of Chalmette.”
The newspaper said “many will remember the white-headed old man and his well-worn drum.”
“He broke down race and class barriers as a soldier (veteran of four wars), musician and statesman. He pioneered New Orleans marching music and parade traditions and demonstrated bravery, free spirit and dignity in his personal quest for liberty and will to survive and prosper,” Brock contends.
“Through his music and community involvement Jordan Noble nurtured a joy of life and love for humanity in a city that underwent massive expansion and sociocultural upheaval during his time.”
Jordan Noble (Photo: Neal Auction Co.)
Following the Battle of New Orleans, Noble continued his military service. According to Neal Auction Company, Noble worked under President Andrew Jackson in 1836 during the Second Seminole War as a member of the Louisiana Volunteers. He was a drummer for the Mexican Artillery during the Mexican War in 1846 (under the command of Gen. Zachary Taylor) and during the Civil War, he served on the Union side as Captain of Company C of the 7th Regiment of the Louisiana Volunteer Infantry.
Though he was sold back into slavery four times, Noble (who died a free man) is also well-regarded as an important leader in the early movement for racial equality. He is an important music figure who gave regular performances playing his drum at public events, where crowds were drawn to see the man known as Gen. Andrew Jackson’s drummer.
"In my opinion, the drum is one of the most important historical artifacts that we have here in New Orleans," said Shelene Roumillat, an historian who researched Noble for her Ph.D. in history at Tulane University. "His military career continued after the Battle of New Orleans and the fact that he returned to the city in the 1850s is important because at that time there was a resurgence of the free men of color who were veterans of the battle."
She pointed out that those veterans began to be included in Battle of New Orleans anniversary parades in the city at that time and Noble became the most celebrated veteran of the free color veterans in the 1850s. "It was a very strategic move on the part of people in power in New Orleans to combat criticism of slavery and the way blacks are treated in the South," she said. "He becomes and remains the most celebrated veteran of the free color veterans. That's because of his music and I think the sentimentality of memories attached to the Battle of New Orleans, which is one of the proudest moments in the city's history."
Noble played at events all across the city, she said, becoming the first black man to lead parades through the streets without any official sanction or invitation to do so. "He takes it upon himself with a fife player to go around the city and play, including on New Year's, where they played a salute to the military, the city and the government. The fact that he's black and is doing this is important. Nowhere else in the country is that happening."
The drum which is on the auction block was believed to have been displayed at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and at the Louisiana State Museum since 1909. Neal Auction Company, which acquired the drum more than a year ago, estimates the drum’s value between $200,000 and $250,000. Fagan, who called the drum truly a one-of-a-kind piece, said there is a chance that a museum or institution will snap it up next Friday when it goes up for sale.
“Obviously we can’t determine who buys it but we certainly inform institutions about the opportunity and if it ends up in their hands, we’re more than happy. We do hope that happens,” he said.
“The flag also was the property of Jordan Noble and the museum had it displayed as being given by the ladies of New Orleans to Andrew Jackson to commemorate his victory,” said Fagan. “At some point, the history is not very clear but it was given to Noble by Jackson.” The flag, which Cusachs acquired from Noble’s wife, is valued between $200,000 and $250,000.
The Noble items are just two of the 200 intriguing items up for bid Dec. 2 as part of the Cusachs collection. Other pieces include weapons, swords, rare maps of Louisiana and New Orleans, paintings and manuscripts signed by historical figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, President James Madison and Gov. William C.C. Claiborne. The pieces are described as being instrumental in early exhibits displayed at the Louisiana State Museum at the turn of the 20th century. The collection was on loan to the state museum for many years but returned to private hands and is now being sold at auction.
Historian Shelene Roumillat will give a lecture before the auction Dec. 2 on Jordan Noble and the Battle of New Orleans. The lecture at 11 a.m. will proceed the auction at Neal Auction Company, 4038 Magazine St.
A Short Article on Drum Sticks by Fran Azzarto
Here's a 6-year old article originally from Drum Business (May/June 2010 issue) by Fran Azzarto, found online at http://www.moderndrummer.com/site/2014/12/need-know-drumsticks/ (Dec. 15, 2014):
What do the numbers and letters mean?The history behind the numbers and letters stamped on drumsticks is a little foggy. The letters originally stood for styles of music, while the number was related to the stick’s diameter. The larger the diameter, the lower the number. Some of this coding still applies to today’s basic stick models. Here’s a breakdown of what the companies used back in the early 1900s, when this system was first established:
- The letter A stood for orchestra.
- The letter B stood for marching and concert bands.
- The letter S stood for street band.
- The letter D, used by Gretsch, stood for dance band.
- 2B is the most common size for a thick stick.
- 7A is the most common size for a thin stick.
What’s the difference between sticks made of hickory, maple, oak, and plastic?The most common types of wood used today are hickory and maple. Maple is 10 percent lighter than hickory, which allows drummers to use a larger-diameter stick without it being too heavy. Maple also plays a bit faster. It wears out pretty quickly, however. Hickory is a harder wood and will last longer than maple. Hickory is also fairly resilient and can absorb the shock of a hard-hitting drummer. Oak is the heaviest wood option. Promark’s Japanese Shira Kashi white oak sticks are 10 percent heavier than those made with American hickory. The extra density means oak sticks can withstand more intense playing styles.
The bottom line is that oak will last the longest. Hickory has a natural feel, takes an average amount of punishment, and is the most versatile of the three wood types. Maple will allow for more sensitivity and may be better suited to lighter playing situations.
For extreme durability, check out the aluminum/ plastic sticks by Ahead. These drumsticks are made of aerospace-grade aluminum tubing, and the upper half has a replaceable polyurethane cover with a threaded tip. These sticks are designed to last, while still offering a comfortable playing experience. According to Ahead, “Our sticks have up to 50 percent less shock and can last up to ten times longer than most similarly sized wood models.”
- Hickory is of medium weight and durable.
- Maple is lightweight and quick.
- Oak is heavyweight and durable.
- Aluminum/polyurethane sticks provide extra rebound and are extremely durable.
What’s the difference between wood and nylon tips?According to Mark Dyke at Vic Firth, “The drummer will choose between a wood- and nylon-tip stick based on the desired sound color of the cymbal. Nylon tips create a brighter sound than wood.” Also, nylon tips are virtually indestructible, so nylon tips will far outlast wood tips. Regal Tip’s unique E series nylon tip is designed to offer the durability of plastic with the warmer sound of wood.
- Nylon: long-lasting tip, bright sound
- Wood: full and warm sound
- Regal Tip E series: durable tip, warm sound
What effect does lacquering have on the sticks?Lacquer seals the wood and stabilizes moisture content. It can also help provide a more comfortable grip. Regal Tip’s three-step lacquer process is designed to take the comfort level one step higher. According to Regal Tip’s Carol Calato, “This lacquer finish will actually get a slight tacky feel when your hand heats up as you play.”
Some lacquers are too thick for certain drummers; those players will need a model that’s closer to raw wood. If your hands sweat very easily, a stick with a lot of lacquer can be very difficult to hold on to. A “specialty grip” stick may be the best choice; these models feature non-slip coating toward the butt end.
- Lacquered: slick feel, moisture resistant
- Unlacquered: tight grip, susceptible to moisture-content changes
- Grip stick: no slippage, moisture resistant
What’s the best size and model for a beginner?One size does not fit all. If a student has small hands (either because of age or stature), the most logical recommendation would be a smaller stick than one used by someone with a larger hand. But some experimentation is required to find what feels most comfortable. A 7A is a good choice for someone with small hands, like a young student. A 5A is the most common model for average-size teenage or adult hands. Some companies offer a stick that is specifically made to fit the small hands of a young drummer. Those include Vic Firth’s SD 1 Jr., Vater’s Junior Sticks, and Promark’s SD1F Future Pro.
Consider the size of your hand, and play a couple of hits on a rubber pad using different sticks. If the stroke looks a bit out of control with a thin stick, try a thicker model. Control is everything for a beginning drummer, and finding the correct size of stick is a crucial element in developing proper technique.
See http://www.moderndrummer.com/site/2014/12/need-know-drumsticks/ for the article.