Category Archives: History

New 19th Century Documents

I’ve just added 7 (wow!) 19th century manuals, with publication dates ranging from 1853 to 1891, to the Historical Documents page. That brings the total number of period manuals to 10, covering drum beatings, playing styles and notation used during the War of 1812, the Civil War, and beyond! Check it out and discover a bit of our rudimental drumming history. Happy drumming!

Drummer Boy Diaries and Recollections from the Civil War

Quite by chance I stumbled upon the published diary of a young Civil War drummer boy. Naturally, I was curious if other such accounts existed. I am happy to say that indeed other publications exist. Below you will find information about three such books. These books are in the public domain and I am making them available for download in PDF format. Links are also provided to the original online source where other formats are available. I’ve only just begun to read these and hope you look forward to reading them as much as I.

Since these accounts refer to specific dates and locations during the Civil War, you may want to brush up on your Civil War history. Here are some links to get you started:

The Civil War

Civil War Timeline

Civil War Timeline

Ancient Drum Notation

Here’s a look at three examples of how snare drum parts were once notated.

The first example is from “A New, Useful and Complete System of Drum Beating” by Charles Ashworth, 1812. The top notes, with the stems up, indicate the left hand while the bottom notes, with stems down, indicate the right hand. The first measure is a 7-stroke roll.

Ashworth's "Hessian" - 1812

The second example is from “Col. H.C. Hart’s New and Improved Instructor for the Drum” by Col. H.C. Hart, 1862. Again, the upper symbols indicate the left hand and the lower symbols indicate the right hand. The “7” spanning both the upper and lower areas indicates a 7-stroke roll beginning with the left hand and ending with the right. The 5’s in the lower area indicate a 5-stroke roll beginning and ending with the right hand.

Hart's "Hessian" - 1862

This final example is from “The Drummer’s and Fifer’s Guide” by George Bruce and Dan Emmett, 1862. This is more recognizable as our modern notation. Notice that the shorter 5, 7 and 9 stroke rolls were written out stroke by stroke while the longer rolls were written as we do today.

Bruce & Emmett's "Hessian" - 1862

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