Archive for Thursday, August 31, 2006

Letters to the Editor

August 31, 2006

To the editor:

As the founder of Vaughncraft I add correction and clarification to the article that appeared in the paper Aug. 24, 2006. First, the article states that Vaughncraft is "the only firm in the world that tests musical properties of tambourine jingles." While this would be a glorious statement for any tambourine manufacturer to be able to make, it simply isn't true. This erroneous statement omits a colorful and rich history of masterful competitors and artisans. For brevity, let's just look at the very recent past of tambourine makers and metallurgy.

The Ludwig Drum Company. In the 1950s and 1960s, Ludwig searched the red metals family for brilliant sound, and came up with a metal that was remarkable. 'German Silver' was often the metal industries' name for this material alloy family. So well known are these tambourine sounds that even today they are sought after. Long out of production, they are the object of many a young professionals' search as they hone their ears to sounds that begin to separate amateur enthusiast from knowledgeable professional.

Yamaha, another well-known company, has also invested in serious metallurgy as they add newfound alloys to their collection of tambourine sounds.

Frank's Drum Shop in Chicago, once owned by the late Maurey Lishon, produced some very good tambourines. The metallurgy was done in Chicago, and a long-standing employee, Clarence, built the tambourines. Today, Frank's and those related to the once great drum shop are gone. Much has been written about Frank's, and Frank's is often a favorite topic of enthusiasts' conversations.

Other recent competitors/metallurgists who are very active today and provide excellent competitions would be Neil Grover of Grover Percussion, and Eric Sooy of Black Swamp Percussion.

Secondly, Vaughncraft can neither claim to be the "leading steam wood-bending company in the business." While Vaughncraft has carved out a place, the prize for "leading company" most likely resides in India and Pakistan. The number of exported steam bent musical parts and instruments are substantial almost beyond measure. Known for their time-honored skills, these countries have been bending wood for generations, and have a trade lineage that can perhaps be traced back to the Sidonians.

A more contemporary example of additional excellence in wood bending in the United States would be The Noble & Cooley Co., This company has been a great competitor and top producer in steam bent musical drums for many years.

Lastly, The Craviotto Drum Company,, is yet another domestic company that may produce the greatest number of steam bent drums. They not only produce and sell their own drums, they sell steam bent parts to other top musical manufacturers.

Conclusion: There is a global fraternity of fine craftspeople who spend their lives in search of techniques and materials, and produce remarkable sounding musical instruments. This fraternity encompasses many engineering and design disciplines. To lay claim to exclusivity in such a world of musical history, diversity and cultural depth is to omit the very world of music and those who help create its most beautiful sounds.

If you love music, I encourage you to find some of these companies, (historic and current), at your library or on-line, and expand your horizons. Then, go listen to some music that speaks to you.

Music. One of life's greatest gifts of expression.

Ron Vaughn, Founder
Vaughncraft Percussion
Baldwin City

To the editor:

A public and very sincere "thank you" to Monte Ezell, Baldwin City Recreation, who has been kind enough to extend morning swimming for some very grateful people. Opening the pool and watching over us at 7 a.m. every morning is above and beyond your responsibilities.

Swimming has become a "must" for many adults who are rehabilitating, exercising for their health or just relaxing and having fun. Letting us go down the water slide with no kids around has been awesome. We probably should apologize to the neighbors for screams and laughter so early in the morning.

Thank you, Monte, for letting us enjoy the pool a while longer and for your unselfish efforts.

Janet Venable
Baldwin City Elderberry Swim Team

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