BRIEF HISTORY OF DRUMMING.
By ALLAN CHATTO (Click for Bio) © 1996
The drum is said to be man's oldest musical percussion instrument.
It comes in all shapes and sizes. In the beginning it was small and simple in construction. Simply a piece of hide stretched over the end of a hollow log. Sticks or bones were used as beaters. It was found that by having drums of differing sizes, it was possible then to create a wide variety of tonal colours and contrast.
The drum was used in warfare, both as a means of giving signals to the soldiers and to create noise and drive fear into the enemy. Later the drum was use in a more musical sense, to create rhythm and dynamics for the Military Band. In peacetime, for the concert or the dance band. In the United Kingdom, with the formation of the Scottish Highland Regiments within the British Army in the mid 1800's, we were to see the formation of the Battalion pipe bands. Civilian pipe bands would also soon form. Toward the end of the 19th century, there would be competitions to assess which pipe band was the local champion. Again this would be followed by the District and National Championship. Eventually there would follow a competition titled, "The Worlds’ Pipe Band Championships".
When we think of pipe bands, we naturally think of Scotland. While the Great Highland Bagpipe has been a National musical instrument of Scotland, for the past 200 or more years Scots have migrated and settled in many countries throughout the world. There they have introduced their musical and traditional culture. This has been firmly established in countries such as, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, just to name just a few.
It is interesting to note that some other European nations also have the bagpipe as part of their musical heritage and culture. Galicia in Spain, Brittany in France and also in a number of smaller European and North African countries have pipe bands.
The drum, particularly the snare drum, is termed "an instrument of indefinite pitch". That is to say, its' pitch can not be easily or accurately changed. How did drummers learn to play the drum? From the earliest times there was obviously some form of rudiments devised so that many drummers could play in unison. Of course there was then as there is today, only …"two drum sounds". They are …"The TAP and the ROLL”. But there are a great many variations and permutation patterns adding variety to these fundamentals.
the early days drum rudiments and patterns or scores were
taught by “Rote".
It seems to be agreed historically that some form of Military
snare drum score notation was in use at least in the 17th
century. Patterns or regulated
beatings would all have to be memorized. The drum was widely
used in warfare in England and elsewhere to give signals
for the soldiers to „Troop,
Advance, March or Retreat etc. There was an English Royal
Warrant issued in 1632, defining the drum sequence for the„"Voluntary
before the March" and "The March". Following
is an example of the type of drum score notation used.
drum would accompany the fife and so "Drum and Fife
From here drummers in Britain, North America and in many European countries such as France and Switzerland, seemed to adapt the standard "five line" musical staff to show drumming notation. The note head for the Snare Drum score was usually shown on the "C" space of the Treble Clef stave. The Bass Drum part when included was usually shown on the "F" space. It was not unusual to see the fingering for the snare drum beat patterns written below the notation as: RLRR LRLL RRL etc.
It would seem likely that in this era, that the fundamental rudiments, such as. The Single Tap, The Double Top, The Paradiddle and Roll, came to be standard elements. Later would come the Embellishments such as…The Flam and The Drag.
Potters of London and Aldershot, the famous English drum makers show these basic rudiments in later editions of their 19th century "Drum, Flute and Bugle Duty Tutor". (1886). However George B. Bruce published …"The Drummers and Fifers Guide", in New York, USA, in 1865. This Tutor defines drumming notation on the five line staff and shows a series of standard rudiments. From the Foreword, it indicates that this system had been established in the United States Military as early as 1812. It is claimed that Daniel D. Emmett wrote the first Drummers Manual for the United States Army in the 1820's. George Bruce and Dan Emmett also combined in 1861 to publish in New York, a "Drummers and Fifers Guide”.
in Chicago USA, a group of drummers from all over the country came
together to discus methods
teaching drumming. They all agreed
on a set of "the thirteen Rudiments of Drumming".
Later a further thirteen rudiments were added to
this list to form the "Twenty six
Essential Rudiments of Drumming". Soon the "National
Association of Rudimental Drummers" was founded.
In a very short time their world wide membership
included a number of the leading pipe band drummers
in Scotland. In 1962, the NARD published a book
containing 150 solo
score written by their members.
are some examples of notation from these early
But was happening in Scotland. Well we know that military pipe bands were introduced into the Highland Regiments in the mid 1800’s. Civilian pipe bands no doubt soon followed. Pipe Band competitions were introduced in a small way at local Highland Games. These Gatherings had been firmly established in Scotland since the early 18th century, at which Solo Piping competitions were firmly established.
Highland Games in Dunoon is credited with being the oldest venue in
been held since early this century. In
1906 the Cowal Committee introduced competitions
bands and in
1909 and with the _support
of the late (Sir) Harry Lauder, competitions,
for civilian pipe bands.
Following is an example:
In the 1920's it was the great teacher and innovator of pipe band drumming, Drum Major Jimmy Catherwood of the Dalzell Highland Pipe Band, who would lead and inspire pipe band drummers to develop new techniques. Jimmy's style and technique gave a much greater rhythmic and dynamic variety to the presentation.
Jimmy always took a very broad view of pipe band drumming seeking knowledge of other drumming and percussion idioms. He was also great on the "kit drums" and also tuned percussion. The Dalzell drum corps was at the top during the late 1920's and 30's. Jimmy introduced to Scottish drummers, the "Berger Monolinear system of Notation" to _Scotland in the early 1930's. After visiting Dr. Berger in Basle, Switzerland, Jimmy was impressed with this system and was convinced that it would be of great assistance to the pipe band drummer. But it was not till the late 1940's that this system became to be accepted by the pipe bands in Scotland. Today throughout the world, the monolinear system is the norm.
Drum Major Jimmy Catherwood's drum corps won many Worlds’ Championships in this era and many famous names passed through the corps. Gordon Jelly and Alex Duthart, just to name two.
Here is an example of part of a snare drum score written by Jimmy Catherwood in 1937 and played by one of his pupils, Jim Dalrymple in the SPBA Solo Championships in the following year.
In the City of Glasgow during the 1930's, there was another great drummer both playing in leading pipe bands and teaching many champion drum corps. This was Drum Major Alex D. Hamilton. He was also a professional orchestral drummer. He too had a wide perspective of drumming and percussion. In 1931, "A.D." published a book titled, "DRUM SCORES", A series of Advanced Beatings to Popular Pipe Tunes. The Snare, Tenor and Bass score are three braced staves. An example is shown below.
Jack Seton (the son of John) was Leading drummer of the Glasgow Police Pipe Band from the 30's till the late 1940's. He was followed by Alex McCormick, who was also a great drumming innovator and player.
In 1934 with Book 1. and in 1936, with Book 2, we saw two further interesting publications for the pipe band drummer. These were the "ARMY MANUAL" of Bagpipe Tunes and Drum Beatings for Massed Pipes and Drums. Initially published for the Scottish Highland Regiments within the British Army, these books filled a need for many young student drummers and Massed drum corps performances.
Drum Major A.D. Hamilton was later to become one of the founder members of the Scottish Pipe Band Association, "Pipe Band College". A respected Drumming Adjudicator of the SPBA, Alex was also a member of the SPBA College sub committee, that formulated the Association's first "Tutor and Text Book", Volume 1. Elementary level). This was first published in Glasgow in 1962.
War 2, there
were three other interesting
in Glasgow in
1951, was "The Gaelic
pages of advanced snare
drum scores by Willie Paterson
of the Clan Macrae Pipe
Band and Alex McCormick
of the Glasgow Police.
Both former Worlds
Champions. In 1953, we
saw the "Edcath Collection".
This contained compositions
by leading Scottish pipers
together with many snare
scores by some of Scotland's
then greatest exponents.
Also early in the 1950's,
Drum Major John Seton,
now living in New Zealand,
second tutor and collection
of drum scores. This popular
book was titled, "Fifty
Years behind the Drum".
Many scores included were
played by winning drum
corps at the Worlds Pipe
Band Championships during
the 1930's. Some "modern" rudiments
were also included.
the pipe band movement
of the RSPBA
(N.I.Branch) was of
a similar opinion.
the publication by
P/M Sam Baille in 1982, of
together with Graded
Lessons. The Music Board
of the RSPBA also began
compiling the first of
Volume 1 was published
in 1987. This was followed
by two further manuals
in 1989 and 1990. The
three covered the RSPBA
College Examination Syllabus
for the Certification
requirement for the Elementary,
Intermediate and Advanced
levels for both pipers
These include the following:
1) The AFPBA
(Australia) "Drumming Instruction
also been a small number of
by foremost leading
drummers in Scotland
and in other
parts of the world.
We can see that the same fundamental rudiments are required to be learnt by today’s student drummer as they were nearly four hundred years ago.
the sound" of
and more accurate
of course still
and the subtle
use of dynamics.
For some, with
the road may
but never the
less even the
the same pathway
© ALLAN CHATTO. JANUARY 1996.
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