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About the Instruments Used in the Recordings

Set of over-the-shoulder saxhorns from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Division of Musical Instruments. More information

The instrumentation of the New Hampshire band, with the standard federally authorized size of twenty-four men (the number may have varied in practice though not in principle) is basically that advocated by Allen Dodworth for a balanced ensemble of cornets and saxhorns, with the exception of the additional D-flat piccolo and clarinet. The evidence in the form of extant music, photographs, and rosters is that by the 1860s the use of the piccolo and clarinet to double the difficult cornet or saxhorn parts in the brass bands was common. Following this practice, one D-flat piccolo has been added to the band of fifteen brasswinds and two percussion, for a total of eighteen.

In this recording, each musician used the same instrument throughout the concert with one exception: to adjust for the slightly varying demands of the music dating from the early 1850s to about 1870, David Flowers used, on different pieces, three instruments, including a trumpet crooked in F and E-flat. The following list of musicians and instruments represents a typical brass band of the period.

All the brasswinds have American-style, string-action rotary valves, except the trumpet and the mechanical rotary valve cornet marked "Klemm." Instruments bearing the name "J. Howard Foote" may have been made by John Stratton of New York. Foote and Stratton were partners for two years (1864-65) and Foote appears to have been a dealer rather than a maker.

Instrument Musician Comments
D-flat piccolo Thomas Perazzoli A Boehm-system, wood, conical-bore flute that, by its construction, produces the same sound as that of the instruments used earlier, though it is modern.
E-flat soprano
saxhorn (solo)
Adel Sanchez Bell-front, nickle-plated brass; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
E-flat soprano
saxhorn
Lawrence J. Ferris Over-the-shoulder nickle-silver; Christian R. Stark, New York City, ca. 1855-65. From Glenn Ferris, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
E-flat cornet George Recker Over-the-shoulder, brass; Klemm, Philadelphia (possibly a European import). It was used in the Clifton Springs Cornet Band during the Civil War. From Robert E. Sheldon.
E-flat soprano
saxhorn
David M. Flowers Bell-front, nickle-silver; E.G. Wright, Boston, ca. 1865-70. Inscribed "5th Mass. Cavalry." From the Smithsonian Institution.
B-flat cornet David M. Flowers Bell-front, nickle-plated brass; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
Trumpet David M. Flowers Brass, 2 Stölzel (piston) valves, crooked in F ("General Taylor Storming Monterey") and E-flat ("Lilly Bell Quickstep"); probably English, unsigned, ca. 1835. From the Smithsonian Institution.
B-flat cornet G. Harrison Bowling Bell-front, nickle-silver; D.C. Hall, Boston, ca. 1865-70. From Robert E. Sheldon.
B-flat contralto
saxhorn
Robert Brackman Over-the-shoulder, nickle-silver; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
E-flat tenorhorn Robert E. Sheldon Bell-upright, nickle-silver; John Stratton, New York City, ca. 1870. From Robert E. Sheldon.
E-flat tenorhorn Thomas W. Murray Bell-upright, brass; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
E-flat tenorhorn Richard Butler Over-the-shoulder, nickle-plated brass; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
B-flat tenorhorn Robert Isele Bell-upright, brass; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
B-flat bass
(baritone)
John Marcellus Over-the-shoulder, nickle-silver; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
B-flat bass Robert H. Kraft Over-the-shoulder, nickle-silver; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
B-flat bass
(baritone)
Dallas Parker Bell-upright, brass; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
E-flat bass (tuba) David Bragunier Over-the-shoulder, nickle-silver; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
E-flat bass (tuba) Robert Eliason Bell-upright, brass; J. Howard Foote, New York City, ca. 1880. From the Smithsonian Institution.
Snare drum James Stutsman Civil War era, rope-tension drum.
Bass drum Nancy E. Stutsman Unmarked, rope tension; ca. 1870. From the Smithsonian Institution.

Set of over-the-shoulder saxhorns from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Division of Musical Instruments.

Set of over-the-shoulder saxhorns from the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Division of Musical Instruments. More information

From left to right: E-flat soprano saxhorn, B-flat contralto saxhorn, E-flat tenor horn, B-flat bass (baritone), and E-flat bass (tuba).
more caption information

The cornets and saxhorns made up the all-brass bands of the 1850s and remained a popular, though decreasingly prominent, feature of American wind bands hrough the nineteenth century. The leading E-flat soprano part usually demanded extraordinary virtuosity, and the prominent role played by the E-flat cornet or soprano saxhorn-Flügelhorn-type instruments is characteristic of early American brass band music. At the same time, the uniquely homogeneous and mellow sound created by the whole family of horns ranging from soprano to bass is the outstanding quality of these instruments.

All the instruments illustrated here bear the name "J. Howard Foote" but may have been manufactured by John Stratton. Foote and Stratton were partners for two years (1864-65), and Foote appears to have been a dealer rather than a maker.

Stratton was an entrepreneur of first rank. He himself claimed to have developed the first plant for the mass production of brass instruments, and at a most propitious time. Just before the Civil War, he recognized the market for band instruments that could be delivered immediately and were not made to order. The war and the great number of instruments required by the Union Army made him and his New York factory a great success.