Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rudiments -- A Very Brief History

I found this on edrumline.com. While not a scholarly dissertation, it is interesting:

Let’s get started at the beginning. The rudiments didn’t just appear one day. Rudiments evolved over time – a long time! They continue to evolve even today.

The history of rudimental drumming begins with the inventors of the coolest army knife known to mankind – the Swiss. Round about 1386 the Swiss troops at the Battle of Sempach used fifes and drums to signal troops in battle. The Swiss used this type of signaling more and more as time went on. Since Swiss troops were deployed throughout Western Europe as mercenaries, their signals were quickly adopted by the locals and thus spread the drums and fifes signaling system throughout Europe.

The first rudimental publication came in 1588. The tile of this work, Orchesographie. There were two rudiments in this publication: the Swiss Stroke and the Swiss Storm Stroke. The two strokes were shown in a number of combinations, but the author failed to indicate which hand was to play each stroke.

America’s first published basic rudiments came at the hand of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who was at the time working for the Continental Congress. His 1778 publication, Regulations, specified drum signals for the Revolutionary Troops. While these weren’t technically rudiments, the evolution was evident.

Rudiments as we know them are said to originate with Charles Stewart Ashworth, AKA the Father of Rudimental Drumming. Ashworth, one of the first drum majors of the United States Marine Corps Band, published a list of traditional rudiments in his 1812 book, which arguably has the longest title of any drumming publication: A New Useful and Complete System of Drum Beating, Including the Reveille, Troop, Officers Call, Signals, Salutes and the Whole of the Camp Duty as Practiced At Headquarters, Washington City; Intended Particularly for the Use of the United States Army and Navy.

Ashworth’s book laid the foundation for a drumming style known as the Ashworth System of Drum Beating. In A Useful and Complete System of Drum Beating…, Ashworth describes the basic rudiments in detail along with other rules and regulations for young drummers. The book included the reveille and all major duty calls. It continued selections and tunes for fifers.

Even with Ashworth’s book available, most drummers were still learning by good old fashioned rote method. That is, they simply memorized the rudiments, calls, and fife accompaniments by listening to someone else play. For all you young hotshot drummers out there, this would be known as the Nick Cannon Style.

The second great drumming manual was influenced by Ashworth’s work 50 years earlier. In 1862 and 1865 George B. Bruce coauthored a book called Dixie. Other early drumming titles included: 1869 Drum and Fife Instructor (Strube), 1886 Trumpet and Drum (Sousa).


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And this from the Be A Fifer website:

Ashworth System of Drum Beating

Less than a decade after Stephen Decatur quelled the pirates of the Mediterranean in the "Halls of Tripoli" and long before Messrs. Bruce, Emmett, Hart, Howe and Strube took their very first music lessons, there was Ashworth. Drum Major of the newly founded United States Marine Corps Band, Charles Stewart Ashworth established the methods by which most rudimental drummers learned their craft. The band itself was only 14 years in being, but already it had earned a reputation for the very highest quality musical performance.

In his "A Useful and Complete System of Drum Beating," Ashworth set up Rules to be Observed by Young Drummers. He describes basic rudiments in detail, the Reveille and the major Duty Calls, then continues with 36 duty calls and tunes for the fifers. It was published on January 14, 1812. This book is not just a tutor; it is 40 pages of history. Many say that it was the nucleus of Bruce & Emmett's Drummers' and Fifers' Guide, published 50 years later.

Digitally enhanced from the original and with the original layout, this book is available from Be A Fifer for $14.95 plus shipping.


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And this:

Ever since it was originally published in 1863, the Bruce & Emmett Drummers' and Fifer's Guide has been an indispensable reference for fifers and drummers who want to "do it right."

George B. Bruce was the Drum Major and Principal Drum Instructor for the U.S. Army at the School of Practice on Governor's Island in New York Harbor.

Daniel D. Emmett, the composer of "Dixie," was the Principal Fifer of the 6th Infantry, U.S. Army.

Few, if any, would argue that B&E is one of the most valuable resources for fifers and drummers alike, regardless of period...American Revolution or Civil War.

Please note: Some parties have insisted for quite some time that this book was in fact published late in the Civil War, in 1865, suggesting that it was too late to have played any important role in that conflict. John Carfizzi has provided [the blogmaster of beafifer.com with the following reference from the Yale University library, which has an 1862 copy in their collection. The contents of the 1862 and 1865 editions are identical.

The drummer's and fifer's guide: or self-instructor; containing a plain and... Author: Bruce, George B. Title: The drummer’s and fifer’s guide: or self-instructor; containing a plain and easy introduction of the rudimental principles for the drum and fife; to which are added, marches, quicksteps, side-beats, troops, retreats, signals, calls, &c ... also, the duty for the garrison or camp ... as used in the U. S. Army, the drum major’s duty ... &c ... by George B. Bruce. Published: New York, Firth, Pond & co., 1862. Description: 96 p. 29 cm. Location: MUSIC LIBRARY, SML, Special Collections (Non-Circulating) Call Number: MT735 B886 D7+ Oversize Status: Not Checked Out Subjects (Library of Congress): Drum --Methods --Self-instruction. Fife --Methods --Self-instruction. Military music. Database: Yale University Library.

Plastic "comb" bound so it lays flat, Bruce & Emmett is available from Be A Fifer! for $15.95 plus shipping.

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