Saturday, January 3, 2009

Was Carrington Backsticking in the 1870s? YES!

And, on another page from the "There's Nothing New Under the Sun" book, it looks to me that champion drummer A.R. Carrington had mastered backsticking (at least right-handed backsticking) and a few other tricks we haven't seen recently (e.g., a 5-stick solo) as early as the 1870s as depicted in the bottom middle image of this collage from that period.

From the digital collection of the New York Public Library.
Image Title: A.R. Carrington, champion drum soloist, 1870s.
Creator: Armstrong & Co. (Boston, Mass.) -- Lithographer
Published Date: 187-
Medium: Lithographs
Specific Material Type: prints
Item Physical Description: 1 print : b&w ; 27.6 x 21.4 cm.
Source: Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection / Music -- drum
Source Description: 1 folder (38 pictures)
Location: Mid-Manhattan Library / Picture Collection
Catalog Call Number: PC MUSIC-Dru
Digital ID: 832408
Record ID: 1062097
Digital Item Published: 1-29-2008; updated 2-29-2008

Until this blog's editor saw and studied of the above print, it had been commonly thought that backsticking originated in 1938 based on the work of Joe Marrella who wrote in "The Baron of Backsticking" (which originally appeared in the December 2007 edition of Drum Corps World (Volume 36, Number 15)) as follows:

Believe it or not, BackSticking was developed in 1938 by its creator as a method to improve a drummer’s left hand. The first BackSticking exercise was accenting triplets. The technique was first taught to the Air Force snare drum section in 1958 by my dear friend, my mentor, my instructor, and the person most responsible for my success in drum corps, as well as scores of others.

His name is John Dowlan. To me, he is the “Baron of BackSticking”.


However, notwithstanding Joe Marrella's worthy addition to drumming source material, it is now clear that some form of the technique was practiced by A.R. Carrington some 60 years ealier than 1938, in the 1870s, as evidenced by the drawing illustrating Carrington's right hand in the middle of a backsticking flip. That is beyond argument.

See also "Backsticking -- A Drumming Technique Institutionalized by John Dowlan",this blog, December 28, 2008.

Related Information:
Also, see advertisement, column 5 in the July 19, 1879 edition of the New York Clipper, p. 185 advertising the appearance of A.R. Carrington, Champion Drum Soloist, among 75 artists performing at the National Theater in Cinncinnati that season.

And, see the Utica New York Observer, July 3, 1878:

Prof. A.R. Carrington divided the honors with Mr. Russell. His first appearance was with a splendid snare drum, which he played with piano accompaniment. The manner in which he handles the drum-sticks is something marvelous, and the musical effects produced are wonderful. During his most rapid performance a drum stick would be seen whirling in the air, or would be thrown from behind up under one leg, and caught, the most exact time being kept the while. It was reserved for the Professor to close the entertainment with his "Points of War." [Ed. Note: "Points of War" is also known as "Three Camps" according to "Drummers from the Past", by Jack Lawton. But "Points of War" may have referred to one or more other pieces, possibly in the Camp Duty. See, e.g., The Demon Drummer of Tedworth; "Soldiers of the English Civil War (1)" by Keith Roberts, Angus McBride, Osprey Pub., at p. 49. Points of war are referred to as "signaled commands", different from the Camp Duty in "Drum Calls" by Jeff Nordin and Charles Knutson, part of Clann Tartan Manual, Edition VII, edited By Maeve Kane.] On this occasion he had the addition of a bass drum placed two chairs at his side. The scientific drumming in this piece is not to be described. To one who has not heard it, it would seem utterly impossible that so vivid a picture of army [movements?], concluding with a severe battle, could be given by the means employed. With the aid of the synopsis printed on the program, it was not difficult to follow the often different features to the end. The clock struct ten but the audience followed him attentively to the close. We would be pleased to receive another visit from the champion and charming drummer of [Shiloh?].

Note: The 5th edition of The Chicago Blue Book (1894) (self-described as "a book containing a list of fashionable addresses") lists a Mr. and Mrs. A.R. Carrington residing at 645 Adams St., Chicago.

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