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The tambourine; a military band joined by a woman with her skirts about her waist, sitting on the knee of a man playing a fife and seated on a large drum, the woman holding a tambourine above her head and tapping it with her right hand; she gazes up at a row of three caricatured male musicians who stand behind at left, one with a pipe, another with a horn, the third a turbaned black man with cymbals, all three presenting erect members; a fifth man beyond at right blowing a trumpet and a sketchy figure behind him, a small boy, nude and playing the triangle, in foreground right; at foreground left a group of objects including a gun, satchel, flask and glass.
Etching with stipple
- Production date
- 1790-1810 (c.)
Height: 211 millimetres (trimmed)
Width: 154 millimetres (trimmed)
- Curator's comments
- John Gleeson, a former member of the Coldstream Guards' band has provided the following explanation of the subject (June 2011): "The key (I think) to this print is the black musician playing the cymbals. These black musician were introduced into the Coldstream band in January, 1789 by the Duke of York (the Colonel of the Regiment). At first there were three of these percussionists, who were generally known as the " Turkish Music " or " Janissary " percussion. Their instruments were the cymbals, tambourines, bass drum, and later the Turkish Crescent or " Jingling Johnnie ." Dressed in elaborate and gorgeous silver-laced uniforms, with expensive silk turbans and high feather plumes, these black musicians caused something of a sensation in London in the early 1790's. Their playing on these instruments was novel in the extreme. For instance, the cymbal player would strike the discs at every point he could reach, for example, behind the back; high above the head, between his legs, or to one side or another. The tambourinist would do likewise - even spinning the instrument on a finger tip (much like a modern basketball player does today with the ball). These percussionists would caper, rather than march, creating what was to all intents and purposes a piece of musical and terpsichorean street-theatre. Because of this novelty, these Guards' percussionists became something akin to celebrities in 1790's London, and this "Turkish Music" craze led to these players earning money as teachers of Turkish Music technique to society ladies for whom learning to play the tambourine with its associated poses was " the in-thing."
The oboist William Thomas Parke, in his "Musical Memoirs" of 1830 recalled this also: "This band [the Coldstream] became very popular, and attracted crowds of persons to St. James's Park to listen to it's performances. It may be worthy of remark that the Africans, who appear generally to have a natural disposition for music, produced such effect with their tambourines, that those instruments afterwards, under their tuition, became extremely fashionable, and were cultivated by many of those belles of distinction who were emulous to display Turkish attitudes and Turkish graces" Frances Brooke, in her novel "Manners" also noted this: "Selina Seymour was nearly seventeen. Of what are usually called 'accomplishments' she was comparatively ignorant. She knew little or nothing of fancy works - had never made any pasteboard scenes - could neither waltz or play on the flageolet - nor beat the tambourine in all the different attitudes practised and taught to young ladies by the Duke of York's Band." The Duke of York's Band was the alternate name for the Coldstream Guards band from 1785 to about 1820. It looks as though Rowlandson was intimating that tambourine technique wasn't the only thing that society ladies were being introduced to by the Duke of York's Band"
- Not on display
- Prints and Drawings
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