In Search of Sanford A. Moeller in Connecticut

                                                                                                                          Tommy William Hanson,  BA,  N.A.R.D

 


Sanford 'Gus' Moeller ... is the theme of this article

 [along with related materials discovered during a 2010 visit to New England]

 

Pictures Taken at Moodus Muster 2010

 


 

 

   

 

            Background ...

April 10, 1928

W.F. LUDWIG EDITORIALIZES A CHALLENGE:

_________________________________________________________________

From a 1928 Ludwig Drum and Bugle Corps Bulletin ...

"The American Legion Drum Corps are not so interested in rudiments"

"They are more or less marching drill teams"


     If veteran’s organizations in the 1920s and 30s sponsored bands and corps that did not follow a rudimental system of drumming (as a matter of course), then the time to do something about it was certainly ripe.  See again, the Ludwig quotes above in red.

In order to combat this situation, ‘selling’ the idea of learning rudiments needed to become more aggressive.  The most famous American drummer to harp on this subject at that time was the gifted author/drummer/drum maker ... Sanford Augustus Moeller.

Needless to say, many of the New England states were already well steeped in the rudimental tradition regarding drumming (in the 1920s) ... with the many Fife and Drum Corps that were established there (well before the rest of the country).  This is an historical fact that all New Englanders should be proud of.

____________________________________________________

But the point Ludwig was making was valid.  Back in the 1920s and 30s, it was basically only those who were connected with the military ... who were able to learn ‘the knowledge’.

That is, drummers who were either in the military or who had taken instruction from military drummers ... were the only fortunate ones who were shown drum rudiments as part of their lessons.  For example...

In 1888, J. Burns Moore studied drum rudiments with a drummer in the Sarsfield Guards:  Guardsman - Jack Lynehan

Moore went on to become 'the world's best and most famous rudimental drummer' for many years

 


* There are exceptions to the above statements: 

English drumming skills also came to New England directly from the U.K. by way of key individuals

Drummers (trained in England) immigrated to Connecticut and elsewhere already possessing advanced drumming know-how

Of these key persons ... Samuel Wilcox is perhaps the best known drummer/teacher (from the Middletown area in Connecticut)

 


To continue:  (1) The Moeller Book (1925);  (2) Moeller’s march from New York City to Boston (1930);  (3) The organization of  NARD in 1933 ... were some of the important strategies at that time that tried to help improve the over-all situation (regarding rudiments not being taught to young drummers) ... with the exceptions already mentioned above.

 


MOELLER'S MARCH

    
For the cause of  ‘bringing light’ to drumming and to a system of study based on rudimental exercises … Moeller marched 248 miles over 10 days (averaging 25 miles per day) from Madison Square Garden (NY) to the armory in Boston (September, 1930).

~

W. F. Ludwig quipped …

"Moeller’s march to Boston was the greatest stunt ever put over to 

stimulate drumming and draw attention to the study of drum rudiments."

~

     At the end of this amazing feat, Moeller discussed his journey with the press (and other interested individuals).  He pointed out that drummers must be aware that learning rudiments and 'working-out' with drum rudiments should be considered the highest form of drumming (as far as he was concerned).  Unfortunately, as per the Ludwig quote above, this was not the mind-set at that time!  Leaning drum rudiments was not that popular in the 1920s.  This was probably because of the rise in popularity of the drum set (and drummers wanting to follow their dance band drum set heroes). 

Moeller also reported (after his march) that he used (what he called) ... ‘the correct holding of the sticks’ ... (while on his historic walk - beating his drum ‘every step of the way’).  He emphasized the fact that at the end his 10-day march, he didn't have a blister or a callous on his fingers!

Moeller was basically saying … this is the correct way to play a drum if one has to do so all day long.  It is the most natural and the most ergonomically correct way to move the wrists, arms and shoulders in order to beat a drum with strength ... and to have endurance while doing so.

The above is also the definition of what a civil war drummer needed to do in order to master the (daily) grueling job of rendering all of the needed drum beats (i.e., 'The Camp Duty' ... during the US Civil War (1860-1865).

But those who have read his book carefully ... know that he also recognized the 'closed grip' (not the little finger grip) for non-marching situations.  That is, he was well aware that the grips he used 'on the march' would be inappropriate for playing a set of drums.  His book points this out (page 11).  So when he made the statement ... "The correct holding of the sticks" ... that statement pertained to parade drumming or field drumming.

 

 



 

HOW VISIBLE IS MOELLER IN CONNECTICUT TODAY ? my documents doc 6

To begin to respond to the above 

 

To begin to respond to the above question ... here is a newspaper item taken from the New England Register (1930).

(paraphrased)

Friend to Sanford Moeller, Daniel English, of the Lancraft Fifers and Drummers Organization, sent Moeller a pair of drumsticks that he will be using on his march from New York to Boston.

 

Moeller was made a member of the Lancraft Corps while on a visit to New Haven several years ago.

His membership took place when he was on a 25,000-mile research trip around the country to gather material for his self-teaching drum manual.

William F Ludwig (of the famous drum company) published Moeller's book back in 1925. 

The above photo was taken by James English at the 'crossroads' in New Haven, CT -  September, 1930

(Moeller was Drum Sergeant in the 7th Regiment NY National Guard at that time)

 

 James English (his own words above) was a fifer and an important Lancraft Corps member (as was his brother, Daniel)


MOELLER'S STYLE

      Sanford Moeller’s style (what he compiled and wrote about in his book) was obviously meant to be a vintage drummer's 'how to' book.  It was a self-teaching manual as to how to play a deep drum (how it was done in the past before the twentieth century).

That is, Moeller's book gives out lessons as to how a drum was played proficiently, circa 1860.  This drumming approach was what most American drummers learned living in the 18th and 19th century.  Moeller called it the 'standard and authentic method' that had been handed down through the military or in some cases handed down from drummer to drummer outside of the military from trained drummers who immigrated to America from Europe.

The ‘correct stick grips’ (that he referred to after his famous march) were developed over time.  These grips were adopted for ease of playing (without discomfort).  They were the approved grips found in the 18th and 19th century drumming manuals .. that is, authors such as, Ashworth, Potter, Bruce and Strube.


The Moeller Book's lessons and the style of ‘the ancients’ could very well be considered one and the same


     It should be noted early on in this article that 'Moeller’s method’ (his book) had nothing to do (what-so-ever) with playing rudiments fast.  Also, his book did not contain training tips to help win solo contests!   Moeller knew that!  Winning trophies was not the purpose for compiling and writing his book!

Therefore, one can deduce that increasing the tempo of a drum beat involving a difficult rudiment, such as the ratamaque family,  would not have occurred to Moeller.  If a rudiment could no longer be used because of an increase in tempo (that is ... to be comfortably played), then a vintage style was not being followed (by definition).

Increasing the tempo to a point where a ratamaque becomes unplayable was not part of Moeller's philosophy.  Why have such a fast tempo going on if certain of the traditional rudiments can't be played anymore?  That concept would be tantamount to corrupting the vintage style that he wanted to preserve!

George Lawrence Stone and J. Frank Martin agreed with this view (see Mazur's 'The Perfectionists')

~

     But it seems that in the 1920s, fewer and fewer drummers cared about the history of drumming or finding out about the old and noble drumming traditions that drummers (like Moeller) loved and respected.  More and more it was becoming clear that speed (playing rudiments faster) was the 'new' goal among the next generation of drummers.

The above statement did not affect all of the F&D Corps in New England, as many continued to perform at tempos at or slower than 110-112 beats per minute.  It's interesting to note, as well, that the definition of the word drummer was changing during the early years of the twentieth century.  A drummer (in the 1920s and beyond) began to mean ... someone who played a set of drums!

More and more the word 'drummer' cease being associated with the image of the colonial drummer.  That is, a drummer beating on just one drum (a 'deep drum').  By the time the 1930s rolled around, traditional drumming was basically gone and forgotten.  The public's point of view regarding the word drummer  was more associated with names like Gene Krupa and not so much associated with names like Moeller, Moore, English and so forth!


     Moeller passionately taught ('his authentic') drumming approach to anyone who would listen.  He advocated learning the technical skills associated with this style in the initial stages of learning to play a snare drum.  The style was to be mastered first before a drummer went on to specialize elsewhere.  His idea was that a drummer should be competent enough in order to play the Army's Camp Duty before specializing elsewhere.

Recall that Moeller was the influential instructor of two twentieth century drum set giants , Gene Krupa and Jim Chapin.  If a drummer wished to concentrate on jazz, theater work, symphonic employment or even dance band drumming (and so on), then Moeller's book was a good place to begin in order to create a solid foundation.  To say again ... recall that his book emphasizes a 2-Grips approach (the rudimental grip) and the (jazz/symphonic grip).

     J. Burns Moore, for instance, developed a solid foundation by practicing rudiments learned from a Sarsfield guardsman.  Pictures in this article show that he subscribed to the back of the hand grip (Moeller's little finger grip).  But remember ... Moore was known for being a timpanist for several decades in New Haven.  Here's the point ...

Moore was chiefly known as a solo rudimental snare drum champion in his early years.  BUT he was also known as a percussionist (timpanist) later on in his career.  Moore won top honors in a number of rudimental drumming contests (and retired from them all undefeated).

Regarding his playing style ... he was much like Moeller.  Moeller recognized him because of how he played the snare drum in contests.  He won various competitions using the little finger grip.  He was definitely 'old school' (19th century and earlier).  Obviously, this was a result of being taught (initially) by the New Haven guardsman, Jack Lynehan.

 

LEARNING FROM THE MOELLER BOOK IS NOT A RECIPE FOR SPEED

HIS BOOK WAS A RECIPE FOR LEARNING AN OLD DRUMMING TRADITION

 

Regarding the young drummers of the 1930s (the next generation after Moeller's book) ... no doubt many thought about things as follows:

"I can play faster than those old military drummers."  "I'm playing jazz on a set of drums."  "Who needs all of those rudiments when many of them have to be played slow."  "They can't be used on fast dance tunes."  "They're OK when you're first learning, but you can't speed some of them up."  "We should just forget about those old drummers and how they played!

The above interpretations became more and more the prevailing attitude that Moeller had to face during the rest of his life (after the 1920s).


IMPORTANT

     At the risk of being too redundant (to repeat) ... few have noticed that in his book, Moeller advocates a 2-grips approach for snare drum development.

One of the 2-grips that his book advocates is to be used for rudimental drumming (using the right hand little finger fulcrum) ... and the other right hand stick grip that he advocates is to be used for doing theater work.  That is, a drummer should use the thumb fulcrum and not the little finger when rendering a good-sounding 'orchestral roll' (closed roll).

Moeller knew that the thumb pinch grip was necessary for performing concert music ... working in a theater setting or for playing a drum set in a dance band.  He played in theater orchestras many many time during his life time.  The grip change (fulcrum change) was needed in order to render a 'closed' (orchestra) roll.  By changing the grip back and forth ... the 'closed' style doesn't interfere with the right hand ‘open-style' rudimental vintage stick grip that uses the little finger. 

See Moeller, himself, pictured on page 11 in his book.  He is sitting at a snare drum using the second grip (the thumb fulcrum).  He is showing a concert setting situation playing the snare drum.

(and to quote from his book in red below)

"This shift of position is most noticeable in the right hand and permits a more delicate shading.'"

[ page 11 in Moeller's book ]                       


     As stated in Moeller's writings, the US Army recognized a particular and specific snare drumming approach.  That 'ancient' style is described in Moeller's book! 

His writings were 'compiled' (not invented).  The 'authentic' information came from recognized (accepted) manuals from the 19th century ... drum books that dealt with how to play a drum correctly and proficiently so as to master the army's camp duty.

The 'camp duty' repertoire was Moeller's benchmark

Learning from certain tutors (drumming manuals) ... were meant to become SOP (standard operating procedure) for military drummers.  That is ... drummers were to learn from and follow only approved manuals for the purpose of uniformity.  These tutors were proven to work well in the past for learning to drum ... and (more importantly) referring to them fulfilled a continuation of the patriotic past.

For Moeller (and the US Government) ... George B. Bruce and Gardiner A. Strube were the recognized authorities

~

     It should also be said that Moeller's writings show his American patriotism.  Reading through his book carefully will demonstrate that.  He loved his country.  He loved the age-old military drumming tradition that he learned about in detail and first hand from the old time (civil war) drummers in soldier's rest homes.  And ... recall that he too (himself) was a soldier.

Incidentally, after much argument, the above drumming authorities were adopted by the founding members of NARD back in 1933.  To be more concise ... what was adopted came from some of Bruce's writings and also from some of Strube's approach (the rudiment lesson 25, for example).

A telling credit to Moeller is the fact that in 1925 ... eight years before the advent of NARD, Moeller published his book, citing George B. Bruce and Gardiner A. Strube as the authorities that should govern rudimental drumming (at that point in time).  This is exactly why Moeller's approach might very well be considered the style of the 'ancients'.  

And to say again, Moeller studied other national and international publications before compiling the materials he thought he needed to write his book.  

THE PLAYING STYLE IN MOELLER'S BOOK IS HISTORY

His book is basically saying ... 'ATTEND TO HOW IT WAS ONCE DONE HERE IN OUR COUNTRY'

 


OBSERVATIONS:

      It's true that the Moeller style would be out of place in today’s DCI drum corps circuit, yes.  OK, fine.  But so would Burns Moore and Dan English or Earl Sturtze (Connecticut's favorite son)  for that matter.

But there was an historical connection that Moeller was advocating … and that was that we should recognize that each era in American history has played its part in the country's development and should be studied, documented and remembered.  It's just too easy to say ...

'Oh, that old stuff ... no one plays like that anymore'

The above point of view would actually advocate deleting parts of history as time goes along

 ... and it's a bad point of view

_______________________

 

To subscribe to the above philosophy would certainly mean that we should eliminate all graphics of the American flag when it had only 13 stars and 13 stripes ... because 'Old Glory' went on to expand from there (and who uses that old flag anymore, anyway?)  'That's all in the past, so we should just forget about it!'  In other words...

'We should just move on and forget about how the 'ancients' actually played ! 

 


'ANCIENT' AND 'ANCIENT-MODERN'

At some time in the past, F&D Corps began to compete in one of two categories.  The two categories were  'ancient' and 'ancient-modern'.

All corps started out as 'ancient' ... but some F&D corps decided to change with the times - i.e., (just as the Drum and Bugle corps did).

To say it another way, some preferred to perform fife and drum arrangements at a quicker tempo with a more 'progressive' drumming style than what was done in the past.  

The very simplest way to distinguish between these two categories is to say that an 'ancient corps' uses a tempo that is no faster than 110-112 beats per minute.

In contrast ... 'ancient-modern' corps perform using a march tempo that is usually at or faster than 120 beats per minute (120 bpm).

 


EARL S. STURTZE

One of the reasons that Moeller is not that visible in Connecticut now-a-days is because of the fact that there is a general consensus that Earl Sturtze is Connecticut's best known favorite son ... and was a leader regarding rudimental drumming in Connecticut from the 1930s to the 60s.  In addition, he was responsible for teaching other national rudimental champions successfully, such Arsonault, Quigley, fachaun and others.

Sturtze was a solo trophy winner many many times over.  He published an extremely well respected book (popularly known as the 'bible' ... among many rudimental drumming enthusiasts).  His original style (sometimes known as a modern-scientific style) was the most imitated style for over a quarter of a century.  His approach replaced Moeller, Burns Moore and so forth.

Sturtze literally replaced the 'ancient' (Moeller) approach to rudimental drumming.  This was done by changing the drum's angle, the stick grips, arm, wrist and finger positions.  These changes made it easier to play the breakdowns and solos at a quicker tempo (and to play them harder with the high up and down style).

The Sturtze style was dubbed by Mid-Westerners as ... 'the high Connecticut style'.  It was certainly not the style of Moore, English, Gallagher, Lynehan and so forth ... Connecticut's other (and "lesser known") favorite sons.

Also, in contrast to the 'Sturtze style' ... is the famous 'Moodus Ancients' drumming style

Moodus has been keeping their tradition unchanged since the 1800s.  They may very well be the best F&D Corps in Connecticut (today) - representing and reminding F&D enthusiasts of 19th century America.  Their roots follow Hezakaia Percival 's drumming approach (who learned his drumming skills from Samuel Wilcox ... a British immigrant who started a drum school in the Middleton area of Connecticut in the early 1800s).


('Ancient' vs. 'Ancient-modern')

 

The 'ratamaque rudiments' usually don't go faster than 110-112 beats per minute (comfortably).  They can't be easily played at 120 (and certainly not at all at 128-132 bpm).

So basically, it comes down to this:  A new (progressive) rudimental style was needed for those who wished to go 'modern'.  This was necessary if updating and moving on from the 'ancient' style was desired.  History shows that Connecticut's own, Earl S. Sturtze, developed a more modern approach to accomodate this.  The style was actually taken up in the drum corps world all over the country (and by some fife and drum corps as well).

The Sturtze approach lasted in popularity from the 1930s to the end of the 1960s (as far as drum and bugle corps are concerned).  Sturtze innovated grip changes (breaking away from the little finger grip used by Moeller and Burns Moore, Dan English, etc).

Also, the angle of the drum became less slanted and changed to become a more 'flat' orientation (having a near level appearance).  The strokes were more up and down rather than out and in (the ancient technique).

These changes were welcomed by the D&B corps - and some F&D corps that wished to perform drumming arrangements at a faster or modern tempo.

~~

 

 

LANCRAFT DRUMMERS ... GEORGE GALLAGHER* (left)  -  DAN ENGLISH** (center)  -  SHOW THE 'ANCIENT' STYLE

WILLIAM 'BIG' REIMER***  (right) - SHOWS THE 'ANCIENT-MODERN' APPROACH ... THE  "HIGH CONNECTICUT STYLE"

           ~

*  George Gallagher  ['Drummer Boy']   -  Lancraft Junior State Champion (Connecticut) ... 1911, 1912, 13,14, 15

**  Dan English  -  Lancraft  Senior State Champion (Connecticut) ...1925, 26, 27 and second place - 1928, 29 )

***  Bill Reimer - instrumental in bringing the 'high Connecticut style' to the Mid-West

_________________________________________

 

Analyzing the above photographs will show that the Landcraft drummers  (Gallagher and English above) exhibit a relaxed posture as per the civil war influence.  This can be seen especially in the shoulders.

It's unfortunate that George Gallagher (photo above - left) died quite young at the age of  21 years.  And it is extremely sad (as well) that Dan English followed later with an early death at the age of 28 years in 1930.

Who knows what those two Lancraft champions would have accomplished regarding their corps' future?

~

 

As it turned out, the legendary great Hugh Quigley became the heart and soul of the Lancraft drumline (following the Sturtze style).  That influence is still there today.

 


 

THE 'ANCIENTS' STYLE (Technique)

     Strokes from the right hand (ancient style) come from a right arm that hangs down in an extended, relaxed position.  Note the photo of Lancraft drummers  Dan English and George Gallagher (above).

~

TECHNIQUE

In the past ... extending the right arm down in this way was taught to drummers so that the player would always remain relaxed and not suffer muscle fatigue (by holding the right arm up, while playing) ... that is, bending at the elbow.  This was done because drumming for long periods of time was exhausting.  Allowing the right arm to hang down naturally was easier and wiser if one wished to conserve energy.

To say again regarding the 'ancient' style, the drumstick came off the drum and then back again to strike the drum without lifting it!  This was accomplished by rotating the wrists.  Lifting the stick up - or the Sturze approach - required more effort.  But then Sturtze did not teach drummers who were preparing to play the military commands all day long that were ordered on the battle field!  Maintaining the old approach did not concern him as much as it did Moeller.  Sturtze was scientific ... he was a modernist in his philosophy.

For the 'ancients' ... the technique was to have the strokes begin with the shoulder ... followed by the wrist rotating out and in.  The elbow moves in and out to counter the movement of the wrists.  The arms go along with these motions (loosely) because the shoulders and wrists do all the work (consult Bruce) ... 

"The arms should be habituated to move with the greatest of ease, while the shoulder joints and wrists are exercised to perform the principal part."  (Geo. B. Bruce)

Again, it's important to note that this ('ancient') style does not 'lift' the stick up and down ... the stick is rotated off the drum by turning the wrist as if 'turning a door knob' (as it has commonly been described). 


RENDERING RUDIMENTS FASTER

     Playing a six-stroke roll (not alternating) began to take the place of playing a ratamaque (for the 'moderns').  And likewise, the Swiss triplet sounded much like a flam accent (an alternating rudiment) and was adopted by the 'moderns' because it sounded like the flam accent but could be played more easily at faster tempos. 

It should be obvious that Moeller would not have considered  'short cuts'

These rudiments ( the six stroke and the Swiss triplet) became popular with the 'moderns' because they could be played cleanly at a quicker tempo ... tempos faster than those drummers who were following the 'ancient style'.  Since the rudiments (just mentioned) sounded similar they began to be used more extensively by the drum and bugle corps (and some F&D corps for their 'special' arrangements).  The 6-six stroke roll replaced the ratamaque and the Swiss triplet replaced the flam accent.  

The movement toward 'ancient-modern' (playing faster) was perhaps the reason that this author did not see much of Moeller's influence in Connecticut when visiting (Fall 2010).  

Curious ... because Connecticut was also the home to the following drummers:  Jack Lynehan, J. Burns Moore, Dan English, Henry Garland, George Gallagher and others ... two of which were members of the Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps.  All were state champions in their class! 

The above top-notch players used the back of the hand grip as the basis for their style ... following the ancient ways.  Examining pictures in this article will definitely show that.  In spite of the above ... that 'old' style has been pretty much forgotten (but there are a few exceptions).  Some remember Moeller as a solo champion ... but they're difficult to find. 

~

     Moeller is well-known today for his drums, in the main.  Lancraft purchased 5 Moeller drums in 1954.  These drums (only four now remain) are an important part of the history of vintage drum building (from Moeller to Soistman to Reamer).  On bla bla ... moeller delivered his custom-built drums to the Lancraft club house (24 years after his good friend 'Danny' passed away).  The whole evening consisted of Moeller addressing the members about the drums and so forth with Hugh Quigley in attendance.  As said above, four of the five drums are still played by Lancraft drummers today. 

Incidentally, it's interesting that a former Connecticut state champion and recipient of the Dan English trophy, Hugh Barrows, owns a Moeller constructed drum.  He was very proud to say so but how he obtained it wasn't mentioned (during an interview with him).

Moeller drums are rare, but there are a few out there ... especially in New York state.  Also, he (Barrows) did not mention Moeller as an influence regarding a playing style, and chose Lemley and Clark as his main influences.  


"NO ONE DRUMMER KNOWS IT ALL"  (Moeller)

     What has been described above as 'ancient-modern', may very well change again.  How many of the 'ancient-modern' drumlines, making up a number of F&D Corps in New England today,  will eventually opt to march with matched grip drummers and level slung drums in the future?  It's quite possible!

Would they be referred to as ... modern 'ancient-modern' ?

~

Drum and bugle corps have gone through updating and modern innovations already!  For example, how many DCI corps are following Frank Arsonalt (Sturtze) now-a-days.  Very few ... as most play matched now.

This very well may happen here and there among the F&D community too, who really knows?  One thing for sure ... the Moodus Ancients will jus carry on as before!

Almost 100% of today's drum and bugle corps (and marching bands) play matched grip on a level drum.  Prior to the 1960s that wasn't the case.  What's stopping an organization from the F&D community to opt for this approach as well because of pressure from the young?  The repertory wouldn't have to change!  

Perhaps, one day, a corps may show up at a parade (or muster) and present their contemporary modern-'ancient-modern' drumline (all drummers slinging drums in a perfectly level plane).  Of course, it would include matched grips and fancy sticking.  That might be great for audience appeal (the enjoyment of the uninitiated onlookers) ... but then what ever happened to tradition?

What's the difference if the above comes about?  There will be no change in the sound of the corps or in their dress.  It would just be an up-to-dated playing approach (appearance) concerning the drummers!  The Sturtze influenced has already accomplished that already.  Recall that this article is proporting that 'ancient' is Moeller (and other UK and Swiss influences as well).  Moeller's friends?  How about Jack Lynehan, J. Burns Moore, Dan English, George Gallagher, So and so, J. Frank Martin and so on?  All with connections with Connecticut. 

~

Just to remind the reader again ... matched grip drummers playing on level drums are everywhere today!  Perhaps we will eventually see them in a fife and drum setting?  It pretty obvious that the average person would not be concerned about a drumline like that ... matched grip drummers are seen all over the board now-a-days.  Only the initiated would 'know the difference'!  They would be the only ones knowing that the 'ancient' past was not being represented accurately and properly.

One thing for sure ... there will certainly be more drummers interested in joining a modern-'ancient-modern' organization (i.e., those organizations opting to use the matched grip approach).  Why?  Because nearly everybody plays matched grip as a matter of choice to day.  Most drummers now-a-days have rejected the traditional left hand as being old fashioned and unimportant to learn.

~

The matched grip dominates in the drumming world, today, hands down.  Recall that by the end of the 1960s, the matched grip affected:  (drum set) (marching percussion - band and D&B corps) (symphonic percussionists) ... everywhere!

What started in the 1960s hasn't changed!  The matched grip is here to stay ... just like Rock & Roll ! 

The matched grip, today, is able to dominate most drumming contests (it seems) because of its more uniform look.  The sticking patterns and twirls that are easily possible result from both hands doing essentially the same thing.

But this author is not advocating such a thing to happen since the theme here is all about

Sanford Moeller (and his mission to hold on to the past for historical reasons)

 


* The last stand to resist rudimental modernism will have to come from the fife and drum community

* And perhaps, as well, Sanford Moeller might finally be recognized for 'holding on' to tradition (not changing his book)

[ Recall his 248 mile march to Boston ]


 

MORE OBSERVATIONS

A term like:  ‘The Ancients’ ... really belongs to the 18th and 19th century when one thinks about it.

The 'ancients' were the drummer boys in the Revolutionary war; they were the drummer boys in the War between the States; they were in the  Spanish/American war and they were in the first World war (although not on the battlefield).

Moeller's book is perhaps the last tutor that covers that tradition (the tradition going back to the beginnings of America as a country)!  He recognized the old established tutors that trained drummers for well over a hundred years since 1776.

Technically speaking, the term ('ancients') does belong to part of the 20th century.  That is, it applies to that point in time in the 1900s when the balance shifted ... and drummers decided to change (up-date) the prevailing method to play a drum (the 'standard' approach that was inherited from the past to play a snare drum).

For example, over a thirty year period, drummers went from following Sturtze and the Sturtze 'progressive' style ... to adopting the matched grip style.

The Matched Grip Was A Revolution ... and it continues on today (in a dominant fashion)!


Let's be very clear about this article ... drum set drummers and drum and bugle corps drummers should innovate and move forward with the times.  They should also move forward with any new technology that comes along.  That’s totally fine!

But if an organization purports to re-enact the past as with fife and drum corps … then execution and style should be just as important as, say, authentic dress and tempo!  Here's the question:

If a fife and drum corps adopts all level drums ... with drummers using the matched grip

 (marching at a 110-112 tempo) ... SHOULD THEY BE CLASSIFIED AS BEING ANCIENT ?


The Moodus F&D Corps is a good example of an organization that keeps and respects an on-going tradition without change through time (as was said earlier).  That organization depicts a more ‘ancient’ and a more authentic re-enactment of  'ancient times' in their drumming ... than most corps in Connecticut today! 

The 'Moodus' drumming style may not be a representation of the American military tradition (that Moeller, Burns Moore and Dan English represent) ... but the Moodus Corps is following ancient traditions from early America none the less.  The Moodus organization is an 'ancient' tradition that was established in Connecticut in the early 1800s by 19th century English influences (directly).

A forthcoming book authored by PhD, Dr. James Clark ... (Jim Clark ... a former Connecticut individuals state champion), will no doubt cover this aspect of Connecticut drumming in more detail.  Mr. Clark' s book will be covering the Connecticut Valley's fife and drum tradition.  I mention this because this article has Sanford A. Moeller as a focus ... and is not trying to depict the history of Connecticut drumming.


Moeller’s legacy:

Moeller, recall, thought that the highest form of drumming was to be able to master the US Army Camp Duty.  But after Moeller had his book published (and for the first time in history), the general population began to think of a drummer as someone who played a set of drums (circa the 30s).

    Mastering rudiments and mastering the 'camp duty' as a testament of a trained drummer faded after the 1920s

~

One hundred and fifty years ago ... the term 'drummer' was a person who played just one drum.  At that time, a drummer was a musician who played a snare drum in a concert band or in a marching organization (i.e., the military).

But by the end of the 1930s (as implied above), Gene Krupa was the definition of what a drummer was and what a drummer did.  He had a large public following and he had tremendous popularity as someone who mastered the drum set.  He was what a drummer was!  This image was far more popular than the colonial drummer image from the past represented by Moeller and others.

~

Continuing ... the Moeller legacy, as far as Connecticut's young people are concerned, is that Moeller was an excellent drum builder.  He may have been a champion ... but his playing style became 'old fashioned' according to popular opinion.  Most F&D drummers, it seems, know Moeller more for his drum building skills and not so much for the drumming approach that he stood for.  Perhaps this was because he was a New Yorker (not from New England)!

Moeller's drum forms and drum making equipment are still around.  His efforts were passed on to Soistman and then on to William Reamer (and then now on to Bill Reamer's son).   

After the 1930s, the famous Earl S. Sturtze replaced Moeller as a national figure (replacing Connecticut icons Burns Moore, Dan English and so on).  He became famous for his unique style of playing.  Beating a drum and breaking down the rudiments differed from tradition (i.e. Moeller).  The 'Sturtze style' became more popular than Moeller's approach because Moeller's book advocated respecting and maintaining the past.  The 'Yalesman Champion' Sturtze didn't mind breaking from the past.  Perfecting solo competition preparation was his passion.  He was utterly opposed to the 'Moeller drummers'.  He was quite public about Burns Moore as his inability to break down a rudiment properly!

In 2010, many drummers in Connecticut feel that the F&D style of drumming should be Sturtze related (and not Moeller, Moore, English, etc., related).


IT IS THIS AUTHOR'S OPINION THAT RUDIMENTAL DRUMMERS SHOULD TAKE
 ANOTHER LOOK AT SANFORD MOELLER - A UNIQUE, PATRIOTIC, AMERICAN DRUMMER

(Studying and learning from his book be one part of a 'complete' drummers preparation)


Connecticut drummers who agreed with Moeller

Recall that J. Burns Moore began his snare drum development by contacting a New Haven drummer at the local armory where musicians in the Sarsfield Guard practiced.

Since that drumming tradition (that Moore learned) was an actual un-broken line of drum tutoring - representing a drumming style that had come down through the military.  It must be assumed that what Moore learned from Lynehan, was the same drumming tradition that Moeller learned.

This makes intuitive sense, because the meeting of the two men (Lynehan and Moore) his took place just a couple of decades after the civil war ended.  Moeller was a keen student of that time period (the civil war) and it was the basis of his book.

Moore may not have been a purist (as much as Moeller was), but again it’s clear from photographs that the same school of drumming that influenced Moeller ... was the basis of how Burns Moore played a drum and how he taught his students.

See photos below…
(notice the back of the hand grip for the right drumstick)

                                                   J. Burns Moore                                                                           Dan English (one of Moore's favorite pupils)

Observe the right hand stick grips in the above photos ('ancient looking')... a back of the hand grip

 The right stick (Whole-Hand-Little-Finger Grip) can be seen above

~

And notice that English's left hand is more open and more relaxed than his teacher (Burns Moore).  He did not copy Moore in this regard!  Amazingly, his left hand grip is more like the grip shown in The Moeller Book!

Also note the angle of the drum.  It is this author's opinion that to play in the 'ancient' style is to play copying either of the above photos (or Moeller) (or influences directly from Europe).  Notice that gripping the right drumstick is done by using pressure with the little finger.

 

This was the 'ancient way' to grip the right drumstick (above photos)

 [Refer to the old tutors ... that is, drumming manuals such as Potter, Bruce & Strube]


 

MOELLER'S LETTERS TO DAN ENGLISH

3986 44th Street - Long Island City, NY

(Sanford Moeller's New York address as it looks today in 2011)

 

THE FOLLOWING ... are actual excerpts from letters written to Dan English by Moeller during the years from 1928 to 1930.  They are shown in red font color.  The letters were given to the Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps by James English (Dan English's brother).  In Moeller’s own words (below), he clearly shows a high regard for Dan and his sincere respect for Dan's talent and his respect for Dan as a person..

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dan English was a near perfect drummer - according to Moeller

 

Excerpt's of Moeller's (actual) letters to Dan English follow in the several paragraphs below.  'Danny' (as Moeller called him) exhibited the classic ancient approach ... and Dan won all of his trophies using that 'ancient' style.  English was merely following the Burns Moore drumming style (lessons that Dan learned and that were common in the military tradition since the revolutionary war).

 



3986 - 44th St. Long Island City, N.Y.  

Dear Friend Danny;

… of course you must have received first place [at Naugatuk], but I haven’t yet heard how the different prizes were awarded … your drumming is excellent.

May I say that no matter how long one may have to wait during competitions, they would be fully well repaid when they finally hear you.  I am most anxious to have a good long session with you and talk drumming and show you all I have to show.  I am sure I have the best library of drum instructors in existence.  I have them in many different languages and I have many of the most interesting and valuable of the old books published in this country.

Then there is so much to say about drum corps in general and the condition of drumming.  Also, I would like to talk to you about judging drumming contests.  As I have said, I have had long sessions with drummers from most all the big cities in the country.  It’s the way I learned to drum.  How many pleasant afternoons I have spent with Harry Simms, the old drummer of the U.S. Marine band and now retired.  Sometimes Bill Keefer, who is now first drummer with the band, would drop in…

This is a P.S.
As you will see I wrote this letter and it got mislaid and not mailed and I found it today.  Well I wanted to ask you for a picture of yourself anyway.  I want a picture of [someone re-enacting] a Colonial drummer for a trademark.  

It would certainly be nice to have a champion [like yourself] to pose for the model and you have just the physique I want and everything.  I am going to ask you if you would just have a snap shot taken and send it to me.  I don't know just what pose I would want.  I would like a straight front view with the sticks in position as if you were flaming and perhaps a pose just standing still.  Now could you send me a couple like this; just a little brownie camera would work.  I'll make it up to you.

____________________________________________

 

3986 - 44th Street Long Island City N.Y.  (September 11th 1930)


RE: Moeller wishes to use drumsticks (that could be provided to him by Dan English) for his solo march to Boston

Dear Friend Danny;

Now I want to ask you about getting a nice pair of sticks like you use.  I would like to pick a pair to suit me for they probably vary a little but I suppose that any pair you said was good would be alright. 

However, write me some of the dope about the sticks as I want to get a pair or two and maybe more.  I hope you will be able to do this right away and if you are too busy perhaps your brother [James] could do it.

I hope you are enjoying the best of health and that I will see you before a great while.  I am going to try and do a lot of drum corps coaching this winter and I will write you about it soon and will probably have to ask you for information in regard to success in that line. 

I had the honor of being a Judge at the Convention of the American Legion at Saratoga last Friday.  I worked with Philip Egner, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Military Academy, West Point NY.  I have known him for a long time but had not seen him for about nine years.  I must see you and tell you all the news.

Philip Egner was the composer of West Point's official West Point March

~

(November 11th 1930)

Dear Friend Danny:

I am most anxious to take a drive over the route I traveled on foot.  I’m anxious to renew the acquaintance of the wonderful people I met when I made the trip.

(Moeller is referring to the solo march that he made from NY City to Boston a couple of months earlier)

There is a man in east Hampton who showed me a fine old drum and he is also a fine drummer and leader of the East Hampton Drum Corps.  He makes his own heads and they are the finest I have ever seen and he said he would show me how it is done if I come over and spend the time, which I am certainly going to do.  They are purely raw hides and they are not thick and they will stand such a hard blow as you would not think possible.



If history shows that “Gus” and “Danny” were friends 

WHY?   -   HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

~

The answer no doubt begins with New Haven's J. Burns Moore and Moore’s first teacher, Jack Lynehan

 

Moeller, at some time, became aware that New England (Connecticut) had produced a super-star ... Dan English.  It probably came to his attention when he was on his 25,000 mile excursion through the country - consulting with the locals in each state (to always include the retired army drummers from the American Civil War at their retirement homes).

Moeller must have noticed the contests that Dan was beginning to dominate with the drumming style that he learned from Burns Moore.  And Moeller obviously noticed too that Moore was part of the mix regarding his interest in Dan.  

During the late 1920s, Dan English was considered by many in Connecticut to be the most talented drummer of all rudimental drummers in the North East … and perhaps the whole country.  BUT few knew (as one traveled westward) about Dan’s talents!

~

Moeller (for one) wanted the world to know about Dan and he had no problem with wanting to spread the word about a Lancraft drummer (a world-class drummer) who had an amazing talent.

Because of Dan's exemplary dedication (and because of the encouragement of J. Burns Moore at the beginning), Dan English won the following championships before he passed away at the early age of 28 years).

_______________________________

Daniel English (a Lancraft corps member from New Haven) won the Connecticut state snare drumming title in 1925, continuing in 1926 and '27. He won second place in 1928 & '29.

He won the world title at Naugatuck in 1928.  And before he became terminally ill, resulting from heart disease, he won the North East States Title (as well as) the U.S. National Championship at Brooklyn, New York in 1930.

~

Other Notables during that time period ....

        George Gallagher (Lancraft Corps) 1911,1912,13,14,15  (junior level)

        Earl Sturtze (Yalesville Corps) second (1916, 1917) first 1918, 1919,22,23,28 (senior level)

_______________________________

     Dan's success (above) undoubtedly caught Moeller’s attention because of his style and therefore it caused Moeller to want to cultivate a sincere relationship with him.  Obviously, the most important reason that Moeller respected and supported Dan was the fact that he was keeping ‘ancient traditions’ alive and winning contests with that ‘old school’ approach.  Recall the 'pinch the stick grip' statement just mentioned above.

J.  Burns Moore won contests following the style of the 'ancients' style too (drummers from the 18th and 19th centuries).  His playing approach (as well as English and others ... to include Moeller) were the way a drum was basically always played by proficient drummers slinging a deep drum prior to the 1930s.  

However, within a few years ... after Moeller’s book came out (and the passing of Dan English) ... winning contests with that particular style was no longer possible.  Things began to change in the world of ‘rudimental drumming'.

~

After the 1930s the students of Earl Sturtze dominated for a couple of decades winning most snare drum titles.  This style was taken up by the drum and bugle community.  Eventually many F&D corps followed along calling the style a 'Sturtze ancient' approach (or as some have called it ... 'ancient'-modern).  Frank Arsonault took the style to the mid-west drum corps with great success and Hugh Quigley brought the drumming approach to the Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps.

Eric Perrilloux: "all the top drumers were Sturtze drummers."  "They had speed and power in their rolls and could go a notch higher and faster than anyone else."

Jack Tencza (Lancraft):  "Sturtze would pinch the stick ... grip [the right stick] harder than the 'ancients'.  (see Mazur's The Perfectionists).

Since Sturtze criticized drumming champion Burns Moore, it's understandable the it would be true that Moeller and Sturtze represented different periods in history.  Moore and Moeller were basically from the same 'school of drumming.'  Sturtze rejected this approach and chose to move forward, evolve, and break from tradition.

Furthermore, there is no mention of Sturtze in Moeller's letters to Dan English in the archives at the Lancraft club house.  Totally understandable.   Also, there is no mention of Sturtze in Burns Moore's personally written biography that can be read online at the Vintage Drum Guide  web site.


Moeller's connection with Moore

As mentioned earlier, J. Burns Moore began his snare drum development by contacting a local New Haven drummer.  Recall that that teacher was Jack Lynehan who frequented the armory where musicians in the Sarsfield Guard practiced.  Therefore it can be assumed that what Moore learned from Lynehan was the same as what Moeller learned ... and that was, military-style rudimental drumming going back to the civil war and earlier.  There was no pinching of the right stick, because the style was to let the stick move losley using the little finger as a fulcrum.

Therefore, Moore’s lessons were no doubt similar to the ancient tradition described by Moeller in The Moeller Book.

The know-how that Burns Moore learned was an actual line of tutoring representing a rudimental drumming style that had come down through the military since the colonies (borrowed from Europe).

Few ever new that Moeller did actually recognized New Haven’s famous rudimental drummer/percussionist (timpanist) ... J. Burns Moore (as being a kindred spirit).  But research shows that a cordial relationship with Moore is documented numerous times in the records.   (see the following)

~

Moeller’s own words to Dan English … (From Moeller's letter re:  the field day at Naugatuck)

Moeller wrote <quote>… those little tots were just great on their drums and fifes and bugles and the Lord be praised … to get a man like Burns Moore to teach them the way to drum.

Very few realize what fine work Moore is doing for the welfare and I can say for the preservation of drumming.

I believe there are BIG THINGS going to happen in the drum corps field.  I would like to see Burns Moore the High Commissioner of all the Drum Corps of the US with you and I on his staff.  How does that sound?

Best to everybody and long live the Great Lancraft Corps.

Truly yours with boundless spirit and enthusiasm,

S.A.Moeller

[ This author found it fascinating to read the words of Moeller (in his letters above) ]

(That is to say, how he ‘sounded’ to others)

~

MORE ON MOORE

From a newspaper article regarding Moeller & Moore ...

At the end of Moeller’s march, drum corps headquarters (Boston) had the pleasure of meeting Moeller with the equally famous Burns Moore of New Haven.  Also there to greet Moeller were:  'Heinie' Gerlach (American rudimental champion of Pittsburgh) and Wm. F. Ludwig.

It’s clear that Moeller respected Dan’s well-known teacher, J. Burns Moore, and always spoke well of him.

 


Sturtze is mentioned in one letter found in the Dan English archives.  The letters were provided by his brother, James.  Below are a few words reprinted from a letter to Dan from Henry Garland.  As history has shown ... English was beginning to show signs of his failing health by 1930 when he received the Garland letter (partially given below).  Dan died a year later.

(Garland's words) ... <quote> I suppose you are getting in shape for another strenuous season.  Or are you, as stated in your letter, going to be a spectator this year?  Who will keep Sturtze and Faucher in their places ?

Sturtze, I understand, is teaching in Ansonia.  Well, he'll be wherever a loose cent is around anyway.

(The letter continues) ... I suppose you see Burns Moore occasionally don't you?  Please give him my regards … I saw a few games at the bowl this year and I must say that the Yale drum section is the best of all the colleges I have heard.

Sincerely yours,
Henry Garland

~

H. Garland (Naugetuck, CT)  was New Hampshire's "out of state" seniors individuals champion in 1930".  He inched out Gomperts, Faucher, Sturtze and Mariano ... quite a task.

 


In Conclusion

     The above is how Moeller is (was) connected to Connecticut and to the fife and drum corps that are active there.  This author tried to visit as many corps practices as possible during the fall of 2010.  Of course, not many visits were possible during 30 day visiting period (averaging 2-3 practices per week).  Recall that there are over 80 different F&D Corps in the state of Connecticut! 

A questionnaire put forth to a number of Connecticut drummers (Fall 2010) show that Moeller is hardly an influence anymore.  Drummers, such as, Ed Lemley and Jim Clark have moved up to the forefront and are now-a-days admired by Connecticut's rudimental drummers ...  (replacing Landcraft's, Hugh Quigley, as an example).

 

~

IN DEFENSE OF SANFORD MOELLER

     Moeller should not just fade away and be forgotten nor should he be thought of as some 'old fashioned' player who's style is not relevant anymore.

This author feels that Moeller’s book is one of the last of the drum manuals dedicated to keep a place (in history), that depicts the ‘ancient’ American tradition of rudimental drumming (prior to the 1930s).  

In the 1930s, '40s and 50s ... the choice to abandon the ancient tradition certainly dominated in the drum and bugle corps world.  The Sturtze style became the more competitive style of choice and dominated the D&BC circuit.

Jack Tencza (Lancraft): "Sturtze would pinch the stick - grip harder than the 'ancients' 

[ See Mazur's The Perfectionists ]

~

It's clear that Earl Sturtze did not care about tradition so much, and actually developed a 'next step' approach to contest drumming ... a 20th century winning style that fit right in with the jazz and dance band drummers who emerged following the 1920s.  

Drum and bugle corps adopted this as soon as they became aware that judges would accept a different way to play from the 'old army stuff'.  Of course this happened easily enough, because the D&B Corps community is and always will be keeping up with the times.

 _________________________ 

     It’s unfortunate that history, thus far, has not treated Moeller accurately.  Saying that his book's lessons have became too old to be useful (or that the approach he put forward would never win an individuals' contest with that ‘funny style of his’) ... is unfair to his book and to the man, himself. 

Also, it's totally unfair not to try to understand that he presented unselfish goals and desires regarding an old and noble method of beating a deep drum.  If one takes the time to read his self-teaching manual (as far as page 11), it can be seen that he supported a right grip change when a drummer had the opportunity to play in the theaters, or to do concert work or to take on an occasion to play a set of drums. 

He (Moeller) may have had a more than an adequate ego, but his ‘heart was in the right place’ as Ed Olsen said ... see Mazur’s “The Perfectionists”.  Mazur documented many comments about Moeller (the man) ... given out by drummers who knew Moeller.

 


'MODERN'  IS ALWAYS TRANSIENT AND IS EVER CHANGING

________________________

'ANCIENT IS FOREVER ... "IT IS HISTORY - AND CAN'T BE CHANGED”


MORE REVIEW

Moeller's book and Moeller's playing approach were similar to the lessons passed on in New Haven by Jack Lynehan (a Sarsfield Guardsman), to Burns Moore back in 1888.

Dan English was the beneficiary of the above historical situation between Lynehan and Moore.  The drumming knowledge English learned came from the same drumming school that was passed on by all accomplished military drummers going back to the 19th century and before (to included Moeller, J. Burns Moore and, of course, others that have been mentioned earlier outside the military).

Moeller and Moore were no doubt given the same knowledge as to how drumming was done in the past.  Their knowledge came from those who actually served in the American military during the 19th and early 20th century.

The drumming techniques, referred to in ‘the Moeller Book’, were cross-checked and verified by Moeller, himself.  He did this with his personal interviews with the ‘old time’ Civil War drummers who were still living in the first quarter of the 20th century.

Moeller took the time to visit the old time military field drummers in government housing and veteran’s homes while he traveled.  He pointed this out in his letters to Dan English.

“As a body, the civil war drummer boys (at the close of the war)

 have never been equaled in history”    -   S.A.Moeller

~

FINAL REVIEW

     The approach as to how to beat a drum (‘old school’) ... can be identified by noticing the use of the little finger (or back of the hand grip) on the right stick.  This grip may not be conducive to increase speed (that is, to win snare drumming contests) ... but it was the answer to any endurance needed by the field drummers of the past - the civil war drummers, for example.

A civil war drummer boy played his drum for long periods of time.  Each and every day, while on active duty & under field (or battle ) conditions, a drummer was called upon to play the rolls and so forth that were needed to be made to broadcast to the troops certain daily orders and strategies.  This had to be done with as little effort as possible in order to conserve energy and to avoid muscle fatigue.  When ordered to roll ... a drummer couldn't afford to suffer muscle cramps causing him to be unable to fulfill an order, say, 'to retreat' (or whatever military strategy was needed).

 

ENDURANCE WAS THE BOTTOM LINE

     Avoiding exaggerated motions was the key to prolonged strength & endurance.  Raising the arms up and down was avoided.  Sticks came off the head by rotating the wrists and forearms.  The motion was not up and down, but rather out and back in.  Turn the wrist ... the stick comes off the head.  Turn the wrist back ... the stick comes back to strike the drum head.

But, ironically (after the 1930s), raising the arms up and down (the ‘high Connecticut style’) became what judges started to recognize as the new (progressive) rudimental style that was emerging (better speed, etc).  It was the style innovated by Earl Sturtze.  It was a style that lasted well over a quarter of a century until the matched grip revolution came about.

This author still remembers when symphony percussionists evolved to render the orchestra roll with a matched grip on a level symphonic snare drum.  It was almost shocking to see it happen.

In contrast ... Refer to  Marv Dahlgren and Elliot Fine and pictures of the Minneapolis Symphony in the 1960s.  They both played on a tilted snare with the traditional grip.  I mention this because they were not only percussionists, but also the authors of "Twos and Fours" ... a drum set independence book that was ahead of it's time featuring 4-way independance among the four limbs (not using a ride cymbal as one of the parts).  It was an excellent book for two bass drums and two toms, which dealt with four-way coordination.



    
Below, notice the civil war drummer with the vintage neck sling and how the drum had to be struck (rolling the arms and wrists).  This approach had to be done under those circumstances.  The picture below will show this.  If the stroke were to be up and down, then the down blow would be a glancing blow due to the angle of the drum.

Lancraft's 'drummer boy' George Gallagher shows a similar style to the civil war drummer ... the 'old school' style.

 

                   George Gallagher ('Drummer Boy')                                                       Civil War Drummer

         (Lancraft Junior Champion - 1911,1912,13,14,15 )                 The above style is quite extreme ... but it was necessary

 

The above pictures show what Moeller was teaching in his book.  He was giving out the “standard and authentic” “ORIGINAL" method of how drumming was done (in the past).  To repeat again ... this approach was the accepted way to play a drum over the last one hundred and fifty years (and perhaps longer).

This approach was officially recognized by the US Army.



NON MILITARY TRADITIONS

THE SYSTEM OF DRUMMING (JUST DESCRIBED) WAS NOT THE ONLY ANCIENT STYLE TAUGHT SINCE THE 1800s.

EXCEPTIONS, OF COURSE, ARE FOUND IN THE WRITINGS OF (H. C. HART), (SAMUEL WILCOX) AND PERHAPS OTHER NEW ENGLAND TEACHERS NOT SO WELL KNOWN AS THE ABOVE TWO DRUMMERS.  THEIR EXPERTISE CAME FROM THE UK DIRECTLY AND NOT FROM THE US MILITARY TRADITION.

IT SHOULD BE SAID THAT EACH MAN CREATED A SPECIAL PROPRIETARY NOTATION SYSTEM THAT WAS NOT 'STANDARD'.  THAT CHOICE WAS MOST UNFORTUNATE.  IT WAS NOT EASY TO UNDERSTAND THEIR SYMBOLS ... AS IT DIFFERED FROM STANDARD NOTATION ... (EIGHTH NOTES, SIXTEENTH NOTES AND SO FORTH).

BUT INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, EVERYTHING CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE EUROPEAN 'FIELD DRUMMING TRADITION', ANYWAY .... ESPECIALLY, FOR EXAMPLE, THE SWISS RUDIMENTAL SYSTEM.

 


     Connecticut's Jim Clark ... (Phd, Dr. James Clark of CVFM) … has mentioned that a book of his will be forthcoming containing the history of the Connecticut valley drumming traditions (sometime in the future).  This author looks forward to that occasion.

As per the photos in this article (above), doesn’t it seem right and natural that these pictures should be copied by some of us?  That is, some of us should copy them for authenticity reasons ... depicting the 19th century (and the early 20th century).

Moeller, Moore, English and Gallagher definitely depict this ancient spirit and style (as part of the drumming history in Connecticut).  And one might visit the Moodus website to see another 'ancient approach'.  This should definitely be done if one is interested to reenact the ancient drumming style of the American past?  Moodus drummers maintain that what they are re-enacting - their drumming approach - has been around since before the civil war.  This, of course, is true.  Kudos to that organization for maintaining part of America's past so accurately. 

 

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Charles Ashworth – 1812

 

The right hand or lower hand must be held fast with the little finger, and be allowed to play with ease through the others, as a man may use when ‘stick fighting’

OR

                         

Samuel Potter - 1815

Art of Beating the Drum

The right hand stick is to be grasped with the whole hand about two inches from the top (or more if required as drumsticks are not all of the same weight) similar to grasping a sword or stick when going to play back-sword.

OR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     George B. Bruce - 1862

        

                 

     The stick in the right hand should be held lightly between the thumb and fingers, with the little finger pressing it, so as to play through the hand as a man would use a stick in fencing.

The arms should be habituated to move with the greatest of ease, while the shoulder joints and wrists are exercised to perform the principal part.

MOELLER NO DOUBT DEPICTED THIS DESCRIPTION WHEN HE PLAYED

  


 

Moeller was usually referred to as the drummer with the ‘flailing arms’

Be that as it may, it was the style of play that military drummers followed until the 1930s

 


Sturtze took over the St. Francis parochial school students of Dan English, a Lancraft Connecticut champion who died young in 1931

George Gallagher (Lancraft) 1911,1912,13,14,15

Earl Sturtze (Yalesville) second (1916, 1917)
first 1918, 1919,22,23,28

Dan English (Lancraft) 1925,26,27, second 1928,29

Eric Perrilloux: "all the top drumers were Sturtze drummers. They had speed and power in their rolls and could go a notch higher and faster than anyone else.

JACK TENCZA (LANCRAFT) "Sturtze would pinch the stick - grip harder than the 'ancients'.

 

Moeller.....hold the stick loosely with the little finger.  The stick should not be 'squeezed' by the thumb fulcrum for certain desired effects.  The body could withstand hours of holding the right stick loosley ... but could not do so if a drummer were to pinch the stick (as it requires much effort to do so).

 

To Moeller ... tradition was ALL!