Field Musick

Field Musick of the Brigade

Field music is an integral part of the Brigade of the American Revolution. The Massed Field Musick of the Brigade recreates as authentically as possible the look and sound of fifers and drummers during the American revolution.

Music has been an indispensable component of armies throughout history. During the second half of the 18th Century most American, British, French and German armies employed drummers, fifers, pipers or buglers as field music. The main function of the field music was communications. It was the musician’s duty to relay signals in battle, on the march and in camp. The sounds of the drums and fifes assembled the men and informed them to dismiss. On the battlefield there were signals to prepare to fire, advance, and retreat. In camp music served as the soldiers’ clock to regulate their activities. Reveille was beat at sunrise to wake the men, the Troop was beat at 8:00 am to assemble the soldiers for roll call and inspection; the Retreat was played at sunset to signal the end of the day’s duty, and Taptoo was beat by 10:00 pm as a signal for “lights out.” The march was regulated by fifes and drums which kept an even cadence or pace. In that way, the music helped to maintain discipline and made it possible to move large bodies of soldiers in an orderly fashion and on time.

In addition to those duties, music was also a major part of military ceremonies such as receiving and lodging of colours, parades and reviews, punishments and funerals. The addition of music to ceremonies is continued to this day and demonstrates the power of music in affecting emotions and patriotism.

All music performed at Brigade activities has been researched and documented from 18th Century sources, so the music you hear today is how it sounded over 200 years ago. As in the armies of that period, our musicians are males at least 12 years of age. Every unit in the Brigade is expected to recruit it’s own musicians. The Brigade Inspector of Music can assist a musician in learning his instrument and regular practice sessions are held. At Brigade shows the drummers and fifers are massed under the direction of the Drum or Fife Major. Throughout the day the field music plays the various signals, camp duties and marches that were used for functional or inspirational purposes. For further information, please contact the Brigade.

Military Music of the American Revolution

A Collection of Authentic Signals, Camp Duties, Marches, and Favorite Airs for the Fife and Drum

A 124-page spiral bound book organized into five chapters:

Signals, Call & Camp Duties contains the drum signals and fife tunes used to communicate daily routine orders to the army, such as gathering wood, assembling the men for inspection, and alarm in case of an emergency.

Favorite Troops, Retreats & Tattoos expands on the previous chapter by including music used for ceremonial purposes such as when the regiments flags were paraded or when the duty day had ended and the men were to return to their tents.

American Marches & Quicksteps and British Marches & Quicksteps includes the distinctive marches used by various regiments.

Marches & Favorite Airs includes tunes popular in Great Britain and America. Military musicians also performed music to raise morale and to entertain. This music came from a variety of sources, including ballad operas, tavern songs, and dance tunes.

Included are 75 pages of sheet music and 18 pages of notes and documentation of all the music in this book.