This morning I’ve been re-exploring the amazing collection of The Ludwig Drummer magazines that were compiled and reissued by Centerbook Publishing.
As mentioned in the preface, The Ludwig Drummer was published intermittently for over fifty years, starting in the mid-1920s. Articles focus on many areas of percussion: performance, pedagogy, percussion ensemble, orchestral, marching, drumset, keyboard, recording techniques. I became obsessed with this collection while working on the historical content of my dissertation Defining the Role of Drumset Performance in Contemporary Music (2013).
One of the highlights was learning more about the term faker. In Vol. 1 No, 10 written by William F. Ludwig, he comments that the early players between 1880 and 1897 where not allowed to improvise. “If a drummer attempted to improve on the part, that is to play the so-called rhythm beats of today or fill in, he would be stopped, termed a faker and politely requested to discontinue.”
My favourite article is probably “How I Pounded My Way to Glory” by the bizarre, fictional drummer and regular contributor to the magazine, “Swat” Sticka. Here, as shown in the image above, Sway tells of his double drumming days, “before the advent of the foot-pedal” and describes himself as “king of the triple threat beats on snare drum, bass drum and cymbal” and continues to say “the stuff you hot dance drummers are now doing is a steal from our good old double-drumming days.”
What a great commentary on some of the attitudes and opinions that existed towards the early transitions in drumming. From the rigid, accompaniment role of the late 1800s double drummers to the improvisational and more expressive style that would follow, the change clearly did not come without controversy.
This collection gives amazing insight into the development of our instrument, the performance practices and trends and so much more. Check it out.
Now to end with one more quote from Swat, “One fellow wrote that he thought I was a faker – that I never really drummed in my life. Say, I’ve drummed to SAVE my life (but that’s another story).