The following is an excerpt from “The March on Massachusetts,” a history of Massachusetts Drum Corps from the mid 1920s to the present. It will be available in early ’97.

In the Beginning There Was a King

*In the beginning, there was a king and this king ruled over a young band of crusaders. They all went off to a great war and returned victorious, but not without having paid a great price. The king gathered his troops and they collectively became known as “Prince.”

The king was Arthur “Scotty” Chappell. His vision, creativity, compassion, inventiveness, and oh yes, talent, had the most profound impact on the direction that drum corps was to take, not just in Boston and Massachusetts, but indeed the entire world of the marching arts!

Father Wojtycha of the famed St. Vincent’s Cadets of Bayonne, New Jersey wrote in 1962, “Scotty Chappell to me was the radical, the revolutionary, and a drum corps genius. More important, he was my first contact with drum corps outside the Jersey domain. I know first impressions are lasting and are even prejudicial. What I have to say is meant as no offense or detraction to all the other great senior corps.

“In 1946, St. Vincent’s was on the field with Lt. Norman Prince. I had never seen a senior corps before. What I saw and heard on the field of Harvard stadium on that night has stayed with me as the impression of the greatest drum corps I ever saw or heard. The mix and the mingle which followed in the next few days at Boston served notice to me of the type fellowship and gentlemanliness which a senior corps can produce. Scotty Chappell and his men impressed me with a realness I will and can never forget.”

When the 1st World War commenced, Scotty was fourteen years old and enlisted along with his father in the famed Black Watch.

It was a different world. To put things in perspective, the Boston Red Sox were about to win their last World Series ever (1918). The Scots used young boys like Scotty as runners. They would carry hand written messages back and forth through the trenches.

Following the War, Scotty enrolled in his mother’s alma mater, the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, in England. Upon graduation, he was ready for the New World.

The Chappells immigrated to Canada and then the States, settling in Avon, Massachusetts, where Scotty started his drum corps career with the Avon American Legion Post Drum Corps.

In the 30s he joined the Old Dorchester Post as a baritone bugler. He also began his teaching career and showed the promise of greatness. St. Mary’s of Brookline All-Girl Drum and Bugle Corps won the CYO Class A Championship three consecutive years, (1934-1936). Scotty taught all captions.

Around this time a visionary priest, Father Sheehan, who was stationed at Sacred Heart Church in Malden, decided to tum his group of Boy Scouts into a drum corps. Father Sheehan’s decision to bring Scotty, not only a non-Catholic, but, God forbid, a Mason, to lead his parish boys didn’t meet with a lot of enthusiasm. The enthusiasm increased with each Sacred Heart victory.

The Sacred Heart Crusaders were one of the most successful corps in the country in the late 1930s. It was here that Scotty the Inventor first surfaced. He improved on the straight “G” bugle by creating the D crook, allowing a complete scale to be played for the first time. Sacred Heart’s crowning achievement was the World’s Fair title in New York in 1939.

At the outset of World War II, Scotty joined the United States Navy and in 1946 retired as a Lieutenant Commander.

The Sacred Heart Crusaders were one of the most successful corps in the country in the late 1930s. It was here that Scotty the Inventor first surfaced. He improved on the straight “G” bugle by creating the D crook, allowing a complete scale to be played for the first time. Sacred Heart’s crowning achievement was the World’s Fair title in New York in 1939.

At the outset of World War II, Scotty joined the United States Navy and in 1946 retired as a Lieutenant Commander.

The year was 1946, the boys were back, and the Lieutenant Norman Prince Drum and Bugle Corps was formed. The boys not only were back but dominated the Senior Drum Corps world, winning the first of their five VFW National titles and 22 Massachusetts State titles. It was here that the inventiveness of Chappell revealed itself again when he found that by using sandpaper on the slide of the G-D” bugle it could be used to play chromatics. It took a couple of years for the judges and other drum corps geniuses to figure out Chappell’s latest ploy.

In the early 50s, Chappell completed his trilogy of developing the modem bugle when he dissected a French horn and adapted its rotary to the tuning slide of the bugle. This feature greatly enhanced flexibility and the slide’s inherent pitch problems. Against all advice, the ever-stubborn Chappell refused to pattern his rotary, which was later mass produced by the Ludwig Company and others with no compensation to its inventor.

Scotty never complained.

* Drum Corps did not really begin with Scotty Chappell he was arguably the father of modern drum corps. The early corps also contributed to our heritage and get their just due in Chapter 2- The Roots.