This (what I hope will be a) series of posts stems from a gig that changed the way I approached all the songs I played that evening (specifically, this gig). Changed in the kind of way that I wish the band had had proper notice of the situation we (well, I) were walking into in terms of the room, the acoustics, and the management. On the plus side, Syracuse is undergoing what I think is a slow expansion of mom+pop places that open their doors to live music. This is just fine for most styles of music and small groups. On the down side, these tend to be small places. This is just fine for most styles of music and small groups.
This can be a problem for a set drummer, which can then be a problem for the rest of the band. You rehearse and rehearse with a group at one volume, playing at a level at which you are comfortable playing all the complicated fills and patterns you like. Everyone gets used to hearing certain things and you get use to executing those things. Then you find yourself at a venue with your full kit and an owner who doesn’t seem to like loud noises. And by loud noises, I mean sounds generated by the lightest sticks you own using little more than your fingers to propel them several inches. And I understand the hesitancy an owner might have when confronted by a drummer they’ve never heard, as I’ve certainly sat near my share of drummers who didn’t adjust their playing volume to the room. But with this new adjustment, you’re not playing the same song you (and the band) have grown accustomed to. Now, the whole band may find itself reacting to this new dynamic from the drummer, while all the others in the band had to do was turn their volume knobs down a bit.
What’s a drummer to do? You can drag a percussion rig around and hope for a rehearsal or two to get used to it, or see this as a golden opportunity to handle the situation with finesse and no small amount of restrained motion (and brushes and various brush-stick intermediates). Grooving a forte tune at pianissimo ain’t all that easy if you’ve not tried it, but your surprise, volume-reduced, 2-or-3-hour gig gives you plenty of time to find out what you can and cannot do with the music you’re most comfortable with.
My band Funktion Key 3 had a gig at The Buzz Cafe on 17 May 2014 from 7 to 9 p.m. A 6 p.m. arrival had me rolling gear directly into the band area next to the front door (no steps!) and moving the drum riser out of the way (the riser not being deep enough for a small set and a drum throne by about 12 inches). A stripped-out Pearl S830 Snare Stand (it’s time had come) and plastic bushing removal later, the quick drum tapping to get positions tightened up was enough for the owner to begin playing the levels game – specifically, that my tapping for placement was too loud. If a free-form linear pattern wasn’t going to fly, you can imagine what playing hi-hat and snare together would mean to him.
The muted, muffled kit for the evening. Click for a larger view.
To a medium-sized bright room and hardwood floor was added a boomy mix at the very front of the room where the band was, which didn’t provide enough feedback to know how loud the band was or wasn’t (from the drum throne, anyway). The first set turned into a brush-and-Hot Rod-heavy one where I was asking for volume feedback every few songs (don’t remember complaints). By the second set, we’d all adjusted to the new, more open, less busy drum sound and I was back to a light pair of trusty Vater Super Jazz’s throughout. As you might expect, dropping the level by two-thirds of what you’re used to (and this from rehearsals in a smallish space) has a significant affect on what you play. Crash cymbals get taps that don’t bring out the cymbal’s bottom end, you ride the ride cymbal mid-way to reduce the ringing, your ghost strokes have almost nowhere else to go when your 2 + 4 are at near-ghost stroke levels, and you’re heal-down on the bass drum pedal and hi-hat. The result (for me, anyway) was playing everything music simpler than normal, which by itself is a very good lesson in adjusting to new feels for the same songs.
Now, to reiterate, there are some real lead pipes out there who perform for themselves and not the room. The owner was very, very cool about everything else and I’m appreciative that we had “the discussion” before the gig started, as nothing puts me off more than someone on stage asking for volume (and tempo, don’t get me started) changes mid-tune. You can either play to make your statement, or you can play with the hopes of getting invited back. And we definitely enjoyed the whole experience enough to endeavor the latter.
Our taste for the evening was free eats, a healthy tip jar (I’ve made less playing “legit” gigs than the band made this night), a very easy load/unload, and a knowledge that the band can back-off to fit the space.
With that, three vids from the first and second sets are below from youtube (the Canon T3i at HD only gives you 12 minutes of video, so “Barrelhouse” gets chopped slightly at the end).
On October 4, a concert is planned with “The Excelsior Cornet Band”. “The Excelsior Cornet Band” is New York State’s only authentic Civil War brass band. Founded in 2001, the band consists of a group of upstate New York musicians who are dedicated to the performance of original Civil War music on actual antique brass band instruments of the 1860’s period. They will be performing their Abraham Lincoln Program on Sun., Oct 4 at 2 pm on the second floor of the Library.
With my trusty Olympus LS-10 (Linear PCM) Recorder set to PCM (44.1kHz/16bit) mode (additional settings: Low Cut OFF, Mic Sensitivity HIGH, recorder placed on the drums side of the band 20 feet away from any instruments) and my Canon Powershot SD780 IS (digital ELPH) set to HD video mode (the only canon in attendance), I managed to capture an official bootleg of a Civil War Band in performance, certainly one of the few in history. Regretfully, the video is only of the first 25 minutes of the performance.
Our fearless leader Jeff Stockham provided a considerable amount of text about the occasion and the music of the occasion (as 2009 is, now was, the bicentennial year of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth) that I decided was best retained in the full recording. As this was too much to type out (and it is quite clear in the recordings anyway), I have included brief comments on the pieces in the concert below with relevant links to web content about pieces, original performers, and significant historical figures.
The set list is below. The full MP3 album (320 kpbs) of the performance is available for download at the link “1” below (all song and album data should appear with an import to iTunes or related). In .tar.gz format. Most modern operating systems will open this file automatically to provide the .mp3 files. If not, I suspect you’re running an older version of Windows and should, therefore, download 7-Zip, Winzip, or related. Link “2” contains the unseperated MP3 audio of the concert (the talk between music is hard to hear. The .tar.gz file has the spoken sections amplified). Link “3” is of the .mov file of the first 25 minutes of the performance (much faster if you download to desktop). For both the MP3 and MOV files, please save to your own machine instead of streaming from my website (right-click over the link and “Save As,” “Save Link As,” etc.).
Henry Clay Whitney‘s recollection of a comment from Abraham Lincoln – all other pleasures had a utility, but that music was simply a pleasure and nothing more, and that he fancied that the creator, after providing all the mechanism for carrying on the world, made music as a simple, unalloyed pleasure…. This text is copied from www.abrahamlincolnsclassroom.org.
“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Abraham Lincoln‘s close of his first inaugural address.
03. Introduction to “Old Joe Hooker Quickstep” – 2:37
The Wide Awake Quickstep, possibly performed on 11 September 1860 for a meeting of “The Wide Awakes,” is from Schreiber’s Albany Cornet Band, which was organized 12 June 1860. Information about the Wide Awakes is available at wikipedia.
An engraving of a Wide Awake’s 1860 rally.
A Wide Awakes website also exists for an organization that claims to be of the order of the original movement (someone can confirm or deny this accordingly). This can be found at www.wideawakes.net.
07. Introduction to “Meditation: 20 Years Ago” – 2:54
08. Meditation: 20 Years Ago – 3:07
“That tune is enough to make an E-flat cornet player dizzy.” – Jeff Stockham
This medley was arranged by George Holton Goodwin. “20 Years Ago” is reported by Ward Hill Lamon to be Lincoln’s favorite piece of music. The piece “20 Years Ago” was written by William Willing in 1856. “Ever Of Thee” was written by Foley Hall and George Linley in 1852. A link to sheet music (and a snippet of audio) can be found at the National Library of Australia website at catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/1683158. A copy of the cover is shown below.
The quickstep version performed here is attributed to the Manchester Massachusetts Cornet Band (there also exists a Manchester New Hampshire Cornet Band if you google around. Accept no Manchester imitations! That said, there is a complete history of the Manchester New Hampshire Cornet Band from 1890 available in PDF format (as well as the usual browser-friendly format) at google books: books.google.com/books?id=5PBYAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=&f=false).
Another piece by George Holton Goodwin titled “Door Latch Quickstep” can be found at www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/audio/music2.cfm. The tune is near the bottom of the top-fifth of the website. A copy of the provided MP3 from the Library of Congress is provided locally HERE.
10. The Irish Medley: The Sprig of Shillelagh, Rakes of Mallow, and Lament of the Irish Immigrant – 2:43
The alternate name for “Lament of the Irish Immigrant” is “I’m Sitting On The Stile, Mary.” The Irish Medley is from The Squire’s Brass Band Olio. I’ve found precious little online about the music and the band, but direct you to the following few links for some additional information:
Adelina Patti 1843-1919, Spanish Opera Singer. From wikipedia.org.
From the wikipedia entry for Adelina Patti: “In 1862 she sang John Howard Payne’s Home, Sweet Home at the White House for Abraham and Mary Lincoln, who were mourning for their son Willie, who had died of typhoid. The Lincolns were moved to tears and requested an encore. This song would became associated with Adelina Patti. She performed it many times as an encore by popular request.”
It probably was in this room that singer Madame Patti came to visit with and sing for the Lincolns. She said later that “we were received by Mrs. Lincoln in one of the big parlors. The President’s wife was a handsome woman, almost regal in her deep black and expansive crinoline, only an outline of white at throat and wrists. Her manner was most gracious without a particle of reserve or stiffness. ‘My dear, it is very kind of you to come to see us,’ she said. Taking both my hands in hers and smiling in my face, she added,’I have wanted to see you; — to see the young girl who has done so much, who has set the whole world talking of her wonderful singing.'” After several songs, Madame Patti accompanied herself on the piano while singing, ‘The Last Rose of Summer.’ She realized afterwards that she had “made an awkward choice.’ Mary has “risen from her seat and was standing at a window in the back part of the room with her back toward me. I could not see her face but I knew she was weeping.” Mr. Lincoln then requested ‘Home Sweet Home.”
Historian David Rankin Barbee wrote that her accompanist “did not know the air, and Patti, who knew it, did not know the words, and had never sung them. Seeing her dilemma, ‘the President rose from his seat, went quickly to a small stand at the foot of the piano, took from it a small music book, with a vivid green color, and placed it on the piano rack, opened to the music of Home, Sweet Home. Then he returned to his seat without a word and resumed his former posture. ‘Well, I sang the song the very best I could do it,’ Patti concluded,’and when Mr. Lincoln thanked me his voice was husky and his eyes were full of tears. By that time I was so wrought up over the situation myself that I was actually blubbering when we were taking leave of the recently bereaved parents.'”
All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.
In combination with the text from the performance, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is provided in its entirety below (using his aptitude for impact and brevity as a metric, Lincoln would have made one helluva blogger). I remember Carlos Moroz memorizing this for our 4th Grade English class (I had picked a section of George Washington’s Farewell Address) and thinking it was pretty good (well, it was 4th Grade).
So brief, the photographer only caught Lincoln as he sat down. From wikipedia.org.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Quest for Sound curator Jay Allison unearthed a unique recording: the voice of William V. Rathvon, who as a nine-year-old boy, watched and listened to Abraham Lincoln deliver his address at Gettysburg in November 1863. The story was told in 1938 and recorded on a 78 r.p.m. record.
A family in Pallatine, Illinois shared this recording with us via our Quest for Sound phone line. Rathvon was a distant relative. No other Gettysburg eyewitness is known to have recorded their memories on record.
The historical record reports the following about the most significant performance of this piece, requested by Lincoln upon the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox.
“General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. The next day, despite rain and mud there were some 3,000 people in the streets celebrating. Crowds serenaded President Lincoln throughout the day. “At length,” wrote a reporter for the Washington paper Daily National Intelligencer, “after persistent effort, the presence of Mr. Lincoln was secured. Three loud and hearty cheers were given, after which the President said:
‘FELLOW CITIZENS: I am very greatly rejoiced to find that an occasion has occurred so pleasurable that the people cannot restrain themselves. [Cheers.] I suppose that arrangements are being made for some sort of a formal demonstration, this, or perhaps, to-morrow night. [Cries of `We can’t wait,’ `We want it now,’ &c.] If there should be such a demonstration, I, of course, will be called upon to respond, and I shall have nothing to say if you dribble it all out of me before. [Laughter and applause.] I see you have a band of music with you. [Vocies, `We have two or three.’] I propose closing up this interview by the band performing a particular tune which I will name. Before this is done, however, I wish to mention one or two little circumstances connected with it. I have always thought `Dixie’ one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it. [Applause.] I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it as his legal opinion that it is our lawful prize. [Laughter and applause.] I now request the band to favor me with its performance.’”
“In accordance with the request, the band struck up `Dixie,’ and at its conclusion played `Yankee Doodle,’ the President remaining at the window mean-while. The President then said: `Now give three good hearty cheers for General Grant and all under his command.’ These were given with a will, after which Mr. Lincoln requested `three more cheers for our gallant Navy,’ which request was also readily granted. The President then disappeared from the window, amid the cheers of those below. The crowd then moved back to the War Department, and loud calls were again made for Secretary Stanton.”
Less than a week later, Lincoln was dead.”
19. Introduction to “Honor To Our Soldiers” – 3:25
20. Honor To Our Soldiers – 2:35
“When I leave the stage for good, I will be the most famous man in America” – John Wilkes Booth at Taltaval’s Saloon.
The play’s most famous performance came seven years later, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865. Halfway through Act III, Scene 2, the character Asa Trenchard (the title role), played that night by Harry Hawk, utters a line considered one of the play’s funniest:
“Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal — you sockdologizing old man-trap…”
During the laughter that followed this line, John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor who was not in that night’s cast of Our American Cousin, fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln. Familiar with the play, he chose this moment in the hope that the sound of the audience’s laughter would mask the sound of his gunshot. He then leapt from Lincoln’s box to the stage and made his escape through the back of the theater to a horse he had left waiting in the alley.
21. Introduction to “Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral March” – 1:52
22. Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral March – 4:14
Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral March was composed by Christoph H. Bach of Milwaukee, WI. You can read a little more (and see him) at csumc.wisc.edu/exhibit/MusicTour/GAMBands.htm. There is some remarkable photography from this time, with a few selected pieces from google image searches and wikipedia.org below.
John Allis – Playing an 1850’s snare drum made by Edward Brown of Albany, NY
Al Thompson – Playing an 1855 o’er-the-shoulder E-flat bass saxhorn tuba made by Charles A. Zobish and Sons of NY
Loyal Mitchell – Playing an over-the-shoulder B-flat baritone horn with Berliner-style piston valves. Imported from Europe by J. Howard Foot of NY (1865-70)
Dickson Rothwell – Playing an over-the-shoulder E-flat alto horn. Imported from Europe
David Driesen – Playing an 1870 rotary valve side-action B-flat cornet made by The Boston musical instrument manufacturer Eldridge G. Wright
Lee Turner – Playing an 1868-1870 side-action E-flat rotary valve cornet made by D.C.Hall and Benjamin F. Quimbey
Jeff Stockham – Playing an 1866 (it’s on the bell) cornet made by Hall and Quimbey of Boston. We know even more about this particular instrument: “Presented by the members of the Brooklyn Cornet Band to Amos H. Bangel, leader, October 11 1866.” That is, for the record, the Brooklyn Cornet Band of Brooklyn, CA.
24. Introduction to “Battle Hymn Quickstep” – 2:29
25. Battle Hymn Quickstep – 2:06
Always end strong. The lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic were written (partly in a dream) by Julia Ward Howe and put to the music of “John Brown’s Body,” who you may remember from the beginning of Ken Burn’s epic The Civil War (I had to fit Ken Burns into the post somewhere). The music for “John Brown’s Body” was originally written/collected by William Steffe in 1856 for a song containing the opening verse “Say, brothers, will you meet us / on Canaan’s happy shore?” A copy of the original first-printing of the poem from the Atlantic Monthly is provided below from wikipedia.org.
While there, McCabe and his fellow prisoners learned of Lee’s defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. To celebrate, they sang every national song they knew, including Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After a few resounding choruses of “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” the guards put a stop to the singing.
Finally, it would not surprise me that several errors or misrepresentations may have made their way into my text. As I suspect at least a few heavy-duty Civil War nuts will find their way to this page, please do not hesitate to contact me with insights, comments, or lambasting. I’ll be happy to make changes and acknowledge accordingly. Huzzah!