Military Music And Its Story - online book

The Rise & Development Of Military Music

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REVIVAL OF THE MILITARY ART.                   19
treatises of the fifteenth and sixteenth century simply teem with excerpts from ^Elian, Vegetius and others. Here they found that the pagans of old had a regular code of musical signals, by which certain military movements could be performed. There were occasions when the human voice could not be heard, and the standards even were of little value in the dust of battle. But a certain note or melody that would be understood by troops as meaning a certain movement, was a great advantage, and we can quite understand that the apostles of the " glorious renaissance " should seize upon the idea.
All roads lead to Rome, and all lead from it. Mr. W. Barclay Squire tells us that in all probability it was from Italy that the earliest musical signals came, and spread over Europe by mercenaries, they were modified and altered by the different troops which adopted them. In fact, the names given to the dif­ferent sounds long retained evidence of their Italian origin.4 What the earliest signals were (in notation) we have no idea. The first English signals handed down to us date from the reign of Queen Mary, but they are names only. Trumpeters of " horse" were required to know—Saddle ! Mount! Mess ! March ! Alarm ! and Charge !5 Whilst the " foot" answered to the drum calls—March ! Alarm ! Approach ! Assault!
' Grove, " Dictionary of Music." 'Fortescue, "History of the British Army."
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