The best players gravitated toward each other trading technique and new fancy rhythms that could give them a competitive edge, if not the wrath of Civil War influenced judges.  They watched parades, following the Charles T Kirk Fife Drum and Bugle Corps to the end, remembering when and where they practiced.  

 

Jay Tuomey (Sons of Liberty): “Before the war in Brooklyn, that is where rudimental drumming took off.  It had been coming for a long time and went through a down period.  Gus Moeller started it back up. George and Harold Ripperger played like no one else in the world played.  My instructor, Tony [Pennel], said to me [at a parade] "I want you to watch them."  Kirk’s had a professional look and sound - a class act.  We [Yonkers City] only used 10 different rudiments and played marches which was not all that difficult.  But our rivals and good friends, Charles T. Kirk Corps used 25 rudiments just for one piece!"

Bill Boerner (NY Skyliners): “Charles T. Kirk was the epitome of Fife, Drum and Bugle.”    

Matt Lyons (St. Francis Parochial): "The Kirk Corps carried lots of respect.  It was a unique corps - very businesslike. They did a lot of parades and standstills."                          

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Kirk snare drummers with shiny earned medals

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Eric Perrilloux with the Kirks

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Charles T. Kirk Fife Drum & Bugle Corps with Pop Ripperger front and center.

His two sons ran the drum line after they went to Earl Sturtze's house by train, learning the Connecticut high style. J Frank Martin then wrote a stinging letter of resignation and quit. Notice all the medals pinned to the uniforms.

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Shortly before N.A.R.D. was formed, The Charles T. Kirk Fife, Drum and Bugle Corps (1899-1960) of Brooklyn, New York, ended code drumming, surfacing as a beacon of perfection, the 'class act' drummers traveled to see.  Named after a Spanish-American War soldier, Kirk used successful long themed medleys before the Second World War, a decade or more ahead of VFW and AL M&M drummers more worried about appearance than ability. While bugle corps were playing war generated fare or one of Ludwig’s tunes, Kirk was performing Irish music and a popular Civil War’s north and south theme at 120 bpm, later made famous by the 1971 Yankee Rebels Senior Drum and Bugle Corps. Kirk usually dominated the three major competitions: Hudson Valley, New York State and Connecticut State but still attracted the ire of Ancient tradition.  They were using dynamics. In a time when the number of rudiments you played in each number was compared, Kirk would have more in one piece than others entire repertoire.  To play in the line, you had to pass a strict audition on the corners of the much maligned Ripperger kitchen table. The 1920’s “low and close to the body” military style of instructor J. Frank Martin was replaced by the high Connecticut brand through two upstarts – brothers George and Harold Ripperger - who influenced Eric Perrilloux.  Their father was “Pop” Ripperger, the director responsible for the 18-inch high stack of fife music they saved on 16” x 20” art boards in a trunk. Pop wanted an original corps, hunting music in the New York City Main Public Library on 5th Avenue.  The Kirk’s attracted the best talent.  People attending ran to make sure they didn’t miss them.

 

Jay Tuomey (Sons of Liberty): "The best drumming of that time was done by the Charles T. Kirk Corps which was superior to the M&M corps of that time.  They were prominent New York champions post World War II era.  They marched 120 beats per minute and had rudimental bass drumming even back then!  Their instructor, George Ripperger, was the best around and won New York State individuals many times.   Earl Sturtze was also involved there with the individuals in Kirk's snare line, a former champion from the 1920's."    

      

Al Linquity (Charles T. Kirk): “I played with Ginger Ploeger, Eric Perrilloux. Harold and George Ripperger at Kirk’s.  The tunes were arranged by Pop Rippenger, many progression type pieces and themes – such as the north and south, Scotch and Irish music.  We had 8 snares max but usually 4 to 6, 2 bass, 20 or so fifes and 8 or 10 bugles.  I was 15 when I joined.  It was a senior corps  - 18 was the limit – but if you were good they let you march.       

“Kirks never went for clicking or twirling sticks.  That’s the M&M guys.  They used rod drums.  We kept the rope drums.  It was easier to roll on those rod drums, not like the rope drum where you have to pick the sticks off the head.  We always looked down on the M&M corps.  We played more.  Judges counted how many rudiments you played in a piece.”

 

Ed Olsen (Charles T. Kirk, Company of Fifers & Drummers): " The New York drummers were more or less self-taught.  Connecticut had the famous names; Sturtze, J. Burns Moore and others.  New York had Moeller and J. Frank Martin who was taught by two students of Gardner Strube.  Martin didn’t like the Connecticut Ancient style.  He was an old army drummer and played with his elbows at his sides. At the time, M&M corps did not have that many great players. Fife and drum had the better drummers.  It formed there. The 1930’s were more important than the 1940’s. New York drummers played with their arms close to their sides. They drummed close to the head. Charles T. Kirk corps picked up the high arm swing motion because it looked fancier coming down the street from a distance.  New York Drummers were becoming enthusiastic about the Connecticut style.  It affected them.  I know cause I saw it.  They would come from all over the city by subway, go to Owl’s Head Park, and play till the police came.  New York drummers practiced like hell to play the Connecticut style.  Eddy Fitzgerald and Jimmy Woods traveled from New York to Connecticut and walked 10 miles to Sturtze’s house to take lessons.  The New York players then grew up into the Connecticut style. The Connecticut ancient corps already had a style and previous rules.  The New York state contests go back to 1908 or so.  They were not as good as Connecticut at first.  The 1930’s and 1940’s were a bit better.  It wasn’t long after that they were up to the Connecticut level.  There wasn’t much difference then.  New York drummers were now growing up into the high style.”     

 

Fife and drum strength is proven by the 50th meeting of the Connecticut Fifers and Drummers Association in Ansonia Ct. April 14, 1935, where 120 people packed a standing room only meeting, all dressed in suits and ties to discuss their future.  The few women in attendance owes to the military nature of competitions.  Units were dutifully concerned with rules and fairness using them. Everyone wanted to know and handle their responsibility.

Drummers everywhere were now asking why they couldn’t use Paradiddles in music.  When one did it, they all started to do it, complaining that the next guy was not going to outplay them. Then they started counting how many rudiments that other guy could do - more interesting and adding more skill. The Kirks already had all 26 rudiments in one piece and led the way.

 

            Marching in the drum sergeants position when Perrilloux marched (on the right as you stand in the line) was George Ripperger, flanked by Charles (Ginger) Ploeger, Audi Thompson and Charles Earnst.  Fifes marched three front ranks of four, followed by bugles and then drums.  Eric Perrilloux would be in the second row, far right, flanked by John Stock far left.

 

Eric Perrilloux (Charles T. Kirk, NY Skyliners):  "Charles T. Kirk was the first to truly use rudiments in competition. The Ripperger’s really broke ground there. In 1937 there were a lot of poor drum lines around.   Music was zippo.  They couldn't really play.  Ancient corps did 110 [beat per minute] but Kirk played 120 [beats per minute] at 16 to 18 inches off the head. By the mid 1930's they were really far more accomplished than others. Pop Ripperger handled the fifes.  They had simple reels and marches, both ancient and modern. George and Harold were the drummers.  I used to go up to Connecticut to see them perform.  Pop Ripperger wanted no funny sounds.  No cymbals.  No band sound.  It was direct powerful rudimental drumming.   

“Rudiments were not common in 1937.  You might have two drummers and 10 or 12 horns.  You might march a squad right and have a straight [military] bugle piece.  March after march…..No one else played like the Kirk’s. Connecticut halftime and the Burn’s Moore 6/8 were common then – fife and drum pieces.   Drum and bugle corps were not even the quality of the New York units yet.  Contests at that time were judged on T,T and E:  time, intonation and execution. There was no separate drum sheet. You didn’t get a drum mark. It was the Kirk corps that introduced separate sheets for individual sections in 1938.  It was voted on by all the units and it passed.      

“Standstill corps were small compared to M&M.  Back then 24 horns and 8 snares with 4 bass drums looked big.  Kirk’s had 12 fifers – that was big for a fife line – and 12 horns.  At most Kirk’s had 6 or 8 snares and 2 or 3 rudimental bass.

            "We had a number of good drummers over the years.  The Kirk corps set the standards.  Ripperger saw what the Connecticut drummers were doing and brought the big ancient sound back.  We played at 120 [beats per minute] where ancients were at 110.  Frank J. Martin was involved with Kirk before the Rippenger’s were there but it was a low style. Before that, the Ripperger's played much lower to the drum; six to eight inches. By 1932, the corps was doing real rudimental drumming.  In 1937, I was 16 at the time and youngest in the line.  George was about twenty.  I stayed with them 17 years.

“The Kirks were top instrumentalists.  We tried to play the same way.  Our tap was 2 inches and we would go to 6 or 7 inches.  You are only as good as your roll is. We could cresendo without losing quality.  The Kirk’s were first to do that.” 

“In 1937 Pop Ripperger wrote a piece involving the Civil War with a north and south theme. We were not playing straight marches out of a book. The south was first with a bugle piece in the middle and finished with a northern theme.  The last song was “Old Aung Sine” as the two sides come together. No one had ever done this before.  Pop modernized the Kirk’s.  We were using terrace dynamics to accompany the music.”          

 

EXAMPLE   (F F F 7  F F F 7 )    and  ending    7S t r r 7S t r r  rat rat 7S.

 

Ken Greene:  “Even back then there was disagreement over “ancient” and “modern”.  Charles T. Kirk was hip, playing traditional stuff.  They were the Blue Devils and Cavies of their day.”

 

Al Linquity: “We had some good twirlers back then. We didn’t have one for Kirks.  Rosemary Tiernan was twirling for old St. Anslem’s.  She was very good - a class act.   There was a twirling instructor that you went to – kind of like a Sturtze for twirling.  She took lessons from him… Married bass drummer Joey Irwin.”       

 

Walter Sprance:  “The Kirk’s were very family oriented.  They would rent a dance hall and sponsor a grand ball; a full dress ball.  Ladies were given a dance card and all the dances were listed.  It was a formal dance where you picked what was available on the card. Corps members were in full uniform and ladies were in gowns.  Full dinner too.”            

  

Eric Perrilloux:  “The annual Kirk contest was held at the Arcadia Ballroom in Brooklyn.  It had a stage and they hired an orchestra for the entire evening.  It was a fun time.  The juniors would compete in the afternoon.  At night the seniors would compete in blocks of 5 or 6, then the dance band would play.”           

 

The Ripperger brothers ran the Kirk’s line in 1935 and would compete against the high physical Sturtze style of the Connecticut River Valley, which they quickly brought back to New York.  It sounded and looked powerful coming down the street. Their great grandfather played a fife in the Civil War, part of the “dirty dozen” or 12th Regiment New York Guard.  His father, “Pop’ Rippenger, was also a fifer.  George Ripperger’s first corps was the 1933 Brooklyn Technical High School Corps. He was with the “boys in blue” Kirks line from 1934 until they folded.  Between 1934 and 1947, George was in 21 individual contests winning ten, with five 2nd and four 3rd places.  He won the New York State Association Championship eight times. George was never timid with his opinions. His strength was his tenacity and determination, proved by long trips to Connecticut by train to Sturtze's house to learn a new style he thought improved his skill. 

The Kirk drum instructor up till 1934 was former national champion J. Frank Martin. He was trained by his uncle at the age of four, a drummer from the Civil War at Governor’s Island by the name of Payson and “Spud” Murphy from the 14th New York Infantry who served under Strube, explaining his insistence on Strube method.  Martin was an “Army World War I drummer” with a crusty demeanor using the New York low style of 6 to 8 inches and no arm motion.  A rudimental drummer for more than 20 years in 1931, Martin was second to Dan English in 1930 for the national rudimental championship held in Brooklyn.  As young New York snares were defeated by Connecticut’s brand, the Kirk’s could continue Martin’s static outdated style or use what Connecticut offered.  George and Harold made their decision. After writing a stinging letter of resignation, J. Frank Martin quit, though his son is listed as a Kirk individual competitor in 1934.  If you could play well and pass a test on the kitchen tabletop in front of Drum Sergeant George, you were in.

 

Ed Olsen: “I have a letter from Bill Boerner written by J. Frank Martin.  He states that a ‘couple of kids” went up to Connecticut and “came back with a new style.”  Those kids were Harold and George Ripperger.   Army drummers played very close to the drum.  They used to put sticks under their arms to stop any arm motion.  If a stick dropped out their instructor would yell at them.”              

 

Al Linquity:  “The Kirks did not try to match styles.  It was [Les] Parks that insisted on that later at the Sons of Liberty.  They worked on that a lot.  The Son’s would practice and match their sound and work their uniformity.  Their drummers were more precise than ours as a line; a very crack drum line.  The Kirk’s had more original writing, songs they still play today like Paddy-on-the-Handcar, a George Ripperger piece.  George Rip wrote great parts.  The Kirks were good prior to the war and through ‘46, ‘47 and ‘48.  Eric [Perrilloux] left to teach the Skyliners [in 1953} and it began to slide.

 

The reason Jay Toumey stated Earl Sturtze used to "scalp" them at Sone of Liberty? (And why the corps refuesd to compete at a field day with 5000 people in the stands?)

 

Al Linquity: “Sturtze would mark you higher if you played his style.  Their playing overshadowed the rest of the unit.  Eric wasn’t as high, but was musical and dynamics oriented.  Sturtze students could blast you and overpower the fifes.  He didn’t dwell on playing soft.  Eric put musicianship into a piece. Eric’s arms would curve around the drum.  He could be very tempermental."               

 

John Dowlan (Air Force Quartet, Liberty Bell):  “Martin was not a very personable guy.  He was very strict.  He used to have a drum shop a mile from my house.  I used to hang out there as a kid.  I ran a drum corps newspaper in 1948; The Bugle and Drum Corps Times; 20 cents a copy.  I called him “James” in the paper one time.  He sent me a letter – ‘Don’t you ever use that again ever!‘ I had to take it back to the printer and cross it out.”                   

 

State Champion New York drummer J. Frank Martin taught a Civil War “around-the-tree” style.  In a 1932 article called  “TIME  - Its Importance to the Men of the Corps”, which probably influenced the first N.A.R.D. discussions in 1933, Martin makes comments that prove speeds were increasing. He points out the use of Thirteen Stroke Rolls for Bruce and Emmett vs. Nine Stroke Rolls by Strube and the use of a Strube quick step at 110 bpm, a point of contention in individual contests. Civil War drumming was about slower cadence producing clarity for troops in battle. Martin is almost 70 years removed from the Civil War when he penned an article about military authenticity, not speed for The Association Drum Major Page 2 and 3, 1932

 

(Need another copy of this piece without my marks)   2 pages  from The Assoc. D M

 

Martin states rudimental drumming is hand-to-hand superior coordination.  Martin states only odd number rolls to should be played hand to hand. He thought circus drumming weak and timid, quitting after two weeks in a circus act. Everything was to be broken down, “49 and 96 stroke rolls can’t be counted or finished hand to hand.”  Cymbal crashes and non-published solos were frowned upon, explaining why some judges stated you were "not playing rudiments" (something Bill Reamer would get in trouble for introducing "Troublemakers" or the Tap 6 Stroke Roll. Purists said it was not a rudiment. It had to be legit or it was penalized).  Most drum set players were not rudimental in the 1930’s; Martin makes fun of “jazz system books.”. “Don’t get the latest books showing all the latest breaks and cymbal crashes. Get a book using the rudimental style.  Don’t use jazz system books in your corps unless you expect later on to add a “Spanish guitar” section.”  

 

They were worried about execution and separated each rudiment in a breakdown.  Martin distains a “sing-song” run-on, continuous sound without accenting.  Sturtze’s pupils were playing “super-speed” at 132 to 140  beats per minute.  Martin believed that rudimental playing at 128 bpm would not mix, that “Double Drags and Paradiddle – Diddles at 128 bpm in 6/8 time are not possible”.  This uncovers his military code “around-the-tree” Civil War stick and arm movement.  Martin, a civilian, worries about soldiers: “Let us have the cadence restored to a sane basis of speed, in order that a regiment of soldiers can march, without feet and legs in every direction.  Observe the next parade you see closely, and you will see what I mean.”  Martin is in the past with Moeller and Ludwig's Civil War tradition, without the technique to handle increased speed. He doesn't believe drummers can play rudiments at 132bpm cleanly or with as much power.

 

J Frank Martin: “The reason that 110 beats per minute is used in individual contest work is strictly in keeping with the only book (Strube) that our government recognizes and which therefore was adopted by both the New York and Connecticut Associations., for the guidance of the corps and the judges of these two Associations.  

“There is not a real rudimental drummer alive today that cannot lay down a beat at 110 much cleaner and distinctly than he can at 120 or 128.  The whole question… is simply one of two choices, we are either going to turn our State championship into a speed contest or we are going to award this honor to the drummer who plays his selections in the neatest, cleanest and most distinct manner.  Should not a drummer be able to play at various speeds, keeping in mind, of course, the fact that the more he increases his time the less able he is to bother about execution?

            “I have said very little about the cadence of 128 in its relation to rudiments of the drum.  It is my contention that the two will not mix.  To bear down on this point it might be well that those who think it easy, play any 6/8 beat incorporating double drags, drag ratamacues, or paradiddle diddles using the proper accents.

            “In conclusion, let me say, be versatile, do not confine yourself to one set speed…  Practice slowly, keep your beats wide open, then by degrees you may close them to a degree that will enable you to find the flaws in your execution, but above all never try to reach a tempo at which your strokes and rolls settle into a sing-song style.  Watch those accents, they give you your rhythm.  Rhythm is time, time is cadence on the march.  Marching depends on time, and the time depends on you.”  

 

Martin is calling for separation of notes in a breakdown – no slurred phrases - limiting the run-on combined sound of faster rudiment combinations soon to come from the Reilly Raiders and Osmond Cadets.  He wants accents, not “sing-song” trap drummers displays lacking power, losing accents with speed. 

 

            Charles Ploeger of the Kirk’s line - nicknamed "Ginger" - began drumming in Brooklyn Public School No. 94 where he picked up his nickname. “His grandfather was a lieutenant in the 5th New York Regiment during the Civil War.  Ben Macke was his first drum instructor in the Captain Small's Naval Reserve corps, a well-known National Guard drummer and performer in the 71st Regiment Band overseas.  He returned from the war to teach numerous drum corps.  By 1936, Ploeger made the Kirk snare line, winning his first three medals in individuals by 1939.  While instructing other corps, Ginger maintained his duties with the Kirk’s until its demise in the late 1950's.  He was famous for a solo called the "Ginger Snap" which was picked up by the New York competitive drumming community.” (Ed Olsen  Ancient Times, Vol.26, No.1, p. 23, 1999)

 

Al Linquity: “Charles Ploeger was an excellent drummer!  He would go into Connecticut individuals all the time. The Sturtze students really respected him. He was a very quiet guy.  Ginger would practice rudiment run downs before practice all the time.  He used to call Frank Arsenault “rubber arms”.  That’s where Frank got his speed.  After the war he didn’t follow drum corps any more.  He was a machinist at a tool and die company he partly owned.  There was some problem with his partner so he became a tug boat operator between Staten Island and New York.  Then he bought his own boat.  He gave it up.”            

 

Eric Perrilloux: “I marched next to Ginger for 10 years.  He was from Brooklyn and taught the 4th Degree K of C corps.  He wrote a Double Drag solo called the Ginger Snap that was tough to play at 120. You never marched to something like that.  I know cause I used to compete against him in individuals.”             

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Helen%20Andreolli%20%26%20Harold%20Rippe

Helen Andreolli & George Ripperger  

Charles "Ginger" Ploeger with medals

Famous for the "Ginger Snap"

Fife Drum & Bugle Corps who did standstill competitions  were much smaller than the drum & bugle corps. Their drumlines were sometimes the equal of the rest of the corps.

Drum & Bugle Corps marched a required one snare drummer for every two 

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Lenny Hartman, bugler, bass drummer and snare for the Kirks, was first to see opportunity.  He started teaching a drum and bugle corps in 1937.  The Kirks frowned on that. He was almost ostracized. The next year, many of the Kirk drummers began teaching drum & bugle corps. Rudimental instructors were rare.  Bugle corps was where the money was, having many times the members of the smaller 10 or 20 man fife and drum units.  Even so, it would be two decades before AL and VFW drumlines matched standstill corps professionalism. Players who saw Charles T. Kirk searched for fife and drum experience, not drum and bugle corps.  

 

Ed Olsen: “Lenny Hartman was a Charles T. Kirk snare drummer of some fame that played with Perrilloux there.  His son is Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead.  His mother was a drummer as well, a student of the father.  The Grateful Dead didn't make the money.  Lenny stole every penny they made.  He was put in jail.  The son met the father for the first time and they pulled out sticks and played the Downfall of Paris.”           

Al Linquity: “Lenny Hartman was the one who went and taught a lot of the M&M corps. He was making a lot of money teaching those corps.  Oscar Hansen and the Ripperger’s were down on him.  Before the war the Kirks were down on him.   He was a business man - very intelligent.  He used manipulation to make a buck.”     

Eric Perrilloux: “In 1930, they started a fife, drum and bugle corps near my house.  It was the John Vincent Daniels Post from Woodside Long Island in Queens.  Everyone within a one or two block area was in it.  I was there in 1930, ’31 and ’32.  They needed fifers so I started as a fife player.  There was no drum instructor. The drum sergeant was the teacher and he couldn’t play.  Some dance band fellow came over to teach. He couldn’t play either!  There were 5 or 6 snares and a bass.  We were terrible!”

John Dowlan:  “There were no instructor’s in the 1930’s.  You could find some half decent books:  The Podemsky book written by the guy from the Philadelphia Orchestra and The Art of Drumming by J. Burns Moore.  Gene Krupa had a book out.  I went and saw him first hand.  I learned style from a book.  It was trial and error. My mother used to line my uniform with extra material. I used to get black and blue knees.  It’s tough to handle a drum without a leg rest.  In the 1930’s, they didn’t have leg rests.”

Eric Perrolloux: “We didn’t have special exercises back then.  We could already play and didn’t practice that much together.  We never practiced on the march.”       

 “Astoria Long Island had a competing corps there.  They were starting to go to competitions and were company to some.  We were starting to see what others looked like and kept asking our leaders to go.  It was another world out there. They were standstill and didn’t know beans about M&M. It was 1936 and we were not too good in drums as I know now!  We were poor too!  When elections were held, we would march around the block a few times for $10 or $15 so we could buy uniforms. We looked like bellboys – a blue uniform with brass buttons up the front.”

“I saw the Kirks one afternoon at a standstill contest held in the back of a bar and grill, outside in the yard.  The competition was in the bar room.  At 6 or 7 o’clock we were told to come back as we had gone home.  They said we were in 2nd place.  We walked a few miles back over some railroad tracks – I don’t know how we found the place - and it was the drum major that tied for 2nd place. I hear this drumming going on.  They are running down the long roll.  It was the Kirk drumline warming up without uniforms on.  Holy smokes!  Such height and power and speed!  They did Downfall of Paris.  Well, that did it.  I was going to play there.

“I never had an instructor.  I used to go watch the good drummers on Thursday night.  My dad had an auto repair shop on the east side next to a furniture factory.  There was a young guy banging on a piece of wood all the time.  My father said to him, “My boy drums too.”  He turned out to be a horn player in the Kirk’s trying to learn drums. He told me where rehearsals were in Brooklyn.  I got to know him and told him I wanted to join.  I was maybe 15 or 16 and had to take a couple of bus rides and transfers, then take the subway to get all the way over there from Long Island. Quite a trip for a young kid.”

“I just watched.  No one instructed me. It was a first floor bar and grill below with a stage in the second floor.  They would pack the drums under the stage.  They just covered them with a cloth and no one ever stole anything. There was a coffee shop across the street. I went regularly to watch and finally figured I could play that stuff!  I was 16 years old and got up the nerve to ask to join.  After seeing me play he asked me to come over to the house and said he wanted to show me some things. To try out you had to go to the Ripperger house and play for Harold.  George was sergeant but everything went through Harold.  The dining room had a table with pads on it that had all the corners worn down. All four corners of the tables in the Ripperger house had drumming wear marks.

            “The Kirk’s had tryouts four times a year. George Ripperger would test you.  For some reason George was busy and I went to their house to be tested by Harold, the drum sergeant.  He showed me they wanted no wasted arm motion; not to drop the hand below the head.”

 

Eric Perrilloux:“In 1937, I was 16 years old.  I remember going to watch the American Legion M&M finals in New York in ’37 at their convention.  I was a little interested and it was a big stadium. The corps lines were pitiful!  They were really poor drummers.  They were not exposed. Terrible!  We would make fun of it and you would start to hear about M&M as a joke. They did all this inspection business and wore a coat over their uniforms; a smock or long thing to keep the dirt off their uniforms.  Ludwig had put out all these flyers about the corps, Kankakee and others, as advertising.  All I know is that the best drum lines were from lower Brooklyn at that time.”                     

 

The number of rudiments a drumline or individual performed was counted on score sheets in the 1930’s and 1940’s. If you didn’t do at least ten, you were marked down.  The caption was worth ten points.  Come up short and scores evaporated.  You learned as many as possible. 

 

 EXAMPLES OF NUMBER OF RUDIMENT SCORE SHEET

 

Eric Perrilloux was with the Kirk’s from 1937 to 1953, over twenty years in standstill corps before joining Gabarina in 1953 and 1954.  In 1955, ‘56 and ’57 he was the drum instructor for Reilly Raiders, then rejoined the corps now called the “Skyliners” from 1958 through 1970.

He was New York State Champion five times and taught many junior corps including Selden Cadets, St. Rocco’s and the early 1970’s St Rita’s Brassmen line having Johnny Oddo, his star pupil.  Eric never changed his philosophy, wanting “total sound drumming”, what he called “Quality Caliber”, a comparison to the champion drummers he competed against in the 1930’s and 40’s.  “To utilize the total range of expression without losing [execution] quality. 

 

Perrilloux transitions the older Fancher, Moeller, Ludwig, J. Burns Moore "field pounding so troops could hear on the battlefield", to something more musical.

 

Eric Perrilloux:  “To produce the ultimate sound of fullness, body, volume, authority, command, you must use the so-called “full motion” style to get this sound….. It involves the fluid motion of both wrists and arms to reach the top volume without losing quality speed and power.  This should not be confused with “POUNDING”.  Pounding is volume without quality.  I have yet to hear the ultimate sound without seeing the full arm motion “style” to produce it.  But this is not easy to achieve….. The low style is simply a limited achievement of the complete sound range.”          

“All judging is a matter of comparison.  A judge is continually comparing in his mind’s eye to his own standard of excellence.  No matter how well designed a set of score sheets may be they are only as good as the judge behind them.  Different standards and backgrounds will produce difference results and this is understandable – but is it acceptable?”    

 

Perrilloux’s question needed an answer, one that would affect the ability of players for decades.  The Kirk proposal in 1938 to have drums judged with a separate score sheet was accepted by the fife and drum community.  (Before that it was timing, intonation and execution – TT&E). Line execution is easier to achieve with physical uniformity, something not practiced by the Kirk’s, but by Earl Sturtze, who taught some Kirk members.  His terse methodology formed the future of the rudimental art in depression era parochial schools, teaching a uniform style to hundreds of students, the base of the soon to be famous Chicago Cavaliers.  Kirk members later played in drum& bugle corps, the influence seen when the McCall Bluebirds played Downfall of Paris and Connecticut Halftime in competition as drum solos a decade later in 1947, making judge J Frank Martin almost cry. The drum & bugle corps could now play rudiments! Ratamacues were a fife and drum staple before 1812.  The Civil War style reminisced by Spanish American and World War I veterans was over. The foundation of the art was in place, but technically ready to develop independent of military code via the improved physical methodology and instruction of one Earl Sturtze.