Military Music And Its Story - online book

The Rise & Development Of Military Music

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MILITARY MUSIC (1500-1700).                     29
of the Scots is at the battle of Balrinnes (1594)6 since when it has remained their special warlike instrument.
What was this "Almain Whistle," which Shakes­peare, whose eye and ear nothing escaped, referred to as the "ear-piercing fife," that had so charmed the ears of these military men? Nothing new to be sure. Simply the old idea of the Greeks, which the apostles of the glorious renaissance had stumbled across. Machiavelli, who has been designated " the statesman of the Renaissance," issued his "Art of War" in 1521, which, like his histories and political science was cast in the mould of classic antiquity.7 It is not strange therefore that Machiavelli should recommend the ancient Greek method of employing flutes or fifes for the better regulation of the stepping together of troops. Foremost among those who adopted the idea were the Swiss, whose famous soldiers led the way in all military matters, and are even credited with its introduction into military music.8
As early as 1511, the fife is mentioned by Virdung among the martial instruments of the Germans, and in 1534 it appears in the French service according to an "Ordonnance" of Francis I, which allotted two fifes and two tambourins to each company of a thousand men.9 That Rabelais makes the Andouille folk attack Pantagruel to the sounds of "joyous fifes and
' Stainer and Barrett, "Dictionary of Musical Terms."
'Owen, "Skeptics of the Italian Renaissance," 1893.
'Grose, "Military Antiquities," 1801.
* " Memoirs <le Du Bellay."
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