Military Music And Its Story - online book

The Rise & Development Of Military Music

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tambours" is some evidence that the instrument was no novelty to the French soldier in 1535, when Rabelais's great work was published. England soon followed on the heels of France, and in the warlike muster of the citizens of London in 1540, "droumes" and "ffyffers" are well to the fore. So high did the fife's popularity run in this country, that the demand very soon outran the supply. Henry VIII, ever zealous in military as in domestic affairs, sends specially all the way to Vienna to obtain them,10 whilst the State papers contain not a few laments from commanding officers, owing to the scarcity of these "wry-necked musicians," as Barnaby Rich calls them.1 One writes that he can only hire two of them, and these would only " sign on " for a month at a time. Another says he could not get any to serve under four men's wages, and even then were "but easy players" and "very drunkards." Truly these were troublesome times.
When one considers what was expected of them, it is small wonder indeed that drummers and fifers were hard to find. Listen to what one named Ralph Smith {tempore Queen Mary) has to say.2 "All captains must have drums and fifes and men to use the same, who shall be faithful, secret and ingenious, of able perĀ­sonage to use their instruments and office of sundry languages; for oftentimes they be sent to parley with
" Fortescue, "History of the British Army," 1899.
'Rich, "Aphorisms," 1618.
'Grose, "Military Antiquities," 1801.
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