In 1775 the drum purchased by the citizens of Lexington, Massachusetts for 16-year-old William Diamond, achieved a special place in the history of the United States of America when William used it to call the Minutemen onto Lexington’s green in the overture to the shot heard round the world. Almost 100 years later, 12-year-old Johnny Clem was immortalized as “The drummer Boy of Shiloh” after his exploits during one of the seminal battles of the Civil War.
There is truth and fiction in these stories, but there can be no doubt as to the importance of their drums and the hundreds of thousands of drums that have accompanied America’s soldiers in times of conflict. For these drums commanded a soldier’s every movement, and their rich, heroic sounds and the tunes they accompanied, gave men the courage to march across open fields in the face of enemy fire.
Towards the end of the Civil War the field telephone and telegraph replaced drums on the field of battle. Metal drums, products of the machine age, began to appear, usually in much smaller versions of their larger military ancestors.
The drums played on this recording display this genealogy. All of the rope tensioned, wooden shelled drums were made by The Cooperman Drum Company of Bellows Falls,Vermont. They are accurate replicas of 18th and mid-19th century military drums and on this recording, were used primarily in the arrangements of music from that era.
The other drums used on this recording are smaller and were made by a variety of manufacturers from a mix of wood and metal or entirely from metal. These are, on the whole, rare drums highly prized by percussionists/collectors. They are heard here in the arrangements of late 19th and early 20th century repertoire. The majority of drums used on this recording have calf skin heads and gut snares or wire wound gut snares.