Military Music And Its Story - online book

The Rise & Development Of Military Music

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TURKISH MUSIC.
77
heard old soldiers of that period talk of the antics these negroes were so fond of displaying while on the march, such as throwing up a bass drum-stick into the air after the beat, and catching it with the other hand in time for the next; shaking the 'Jingling Johnnie' under their arms, over their heads, and even under their legs, and clashing the cymbals at every point they could reach."
But matters were really overdone in this particular, and regiments returning from West Indian service were the objects of envy in proportion to the number of "blacks" they could muster in the ranks of their bands. A writer in the " Quarterly Musical Register " for 1812, willingly allows that although a great number of excellent performers are to be found in the military bands, he complains that their music " is so often drowned by the drumming, and other noise, with which it is too frequently accompanied." Some bands actually had quite one third of their members performing upon instruments of percussion. They had the good sense, however, to introduce in time a further variety of wind instruments to reduce this pre­ponderance of noise. But this I will deal with in another chapter.
A word in conclusion about the "blacks." They remained a feature of our bands until the accession of Queen Victoria, and in less than ten years from then scarcely any regiments had one on their establishment. Possibly the last in the cavalry was the black trumpet-major of the Fourth Light Dragoons, who served as
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