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The Role of the Musicians
The Role of the musician, in the American Revolution, was very important and influential in camp. First they were the company's, regiment's, brigade's, or army's clock. There were several different commands on the drum and fife. Some of them were:
All noncommissioned Officers call: Assemble Sergeant Majors, Sergeants, and Corporals
Assembly: Assembly was played on the parade grounds by the army's field music. It was used to signify that All men, officers, and others were to report to the parade ground in formation by regiment and company. When assembling there they were to be in full uniform, cleaned and polished, and colours were to be flying. Assembly was generally used for an official event in camp.
Camp Taps: Used to signify that a camp duty is about to commence. Performed initially by the army lead drummer, then echoed by rest.
Church Call The church call is used to signify, of All things, church. Played as if done for a full parade ceremony. In the British army they had an official religion (Royal Anglican (Episcopalian)). It was just rare for the soldiers to follow it. Each regiment had a chaplain that was meant to bring god to the soldiers. The chaplains often proved to be some of the most corrupt in the regiment.
The General- signifies the striking of camp
Drummers Call: Drummers Call was typically commenced on the parade ground and was used to signify that All drummers and fifers were to assemble there. It was typically done before a ceremony so that the music would be ready there. It was commenced by the Army Lead drummer. He would be joined as more and more musicians arrived there.
First Sergeant's call - used to assemble the Sergeants of each company usually at the Adjutants tent.
Officer's call- Assembles All officers (Ensigns, Lieutenants, Captains, Captain-Lieutenants, Majors, Colonels.) together.
Pioneers March- Assembles the pioneers. They are the ones who set up camp, perform construction, highway building, etc.
Reveille: This was the song used to tell the soldiers that the day had begun. Traditionally it is played at Sunrise. The Reveille was also known as Three Camps and were interspersed with tunes that the Drum Major chose to ass at his own discretion. Reveille would generally be played for upwards of 40 minutes and was played while marching through the tent rows. Musicians, for this reason, became somewhat hated by the men.
The Roast Beef signifies supper is being served.
To Arms: To Arms was used to assemble the men on the parade ground. Unlike the Assembly, To Arms was used in alarm. The soldiers were to get to the parade ground looking as good as possible and the regimental colours were to be left behind. This would commonly be used if needing to defend from a colonial attack.
Water Call- Detachment is to get water.
Wood Call- Detachment is to gather wood
Singling of the Troop: This duty was used while on parade. It was used to tell the army to open ranks for inspection.
Doublings of the Troop: Used to signify that army was to close ranks
Duke of York's Favourite Troop: Used to signify that the Trooping of the Colours was about to commence.
Water Call- Detachment is to get water.
Most signals during the battle were performed on the drum.
Cease Fire- Similar to the parley, it is usually used to call the men back to order if they are firing with out permission or as a safety issue in the reenacting world.
Parley- Used to signify that the officers of one side want to meet with the other side to discuss such things as terms of surrender. All hostilities are to temporarily cease when this is played.
Prime and Load (The Preparative)- signifies that muskets are to be primed and loaded.
Make Ready used to signify that everyone is to full cock the firelocks
Present- Level the muskets to the firing position
Fire- Rather self explanatory. Everyone is to fire their piece.
Retreat signifies retreat. Or retiring from the field.
Another duty of the music in the American revolution was that off the beat keeper on the march. The officers in the British army had the soldiers average pace determined. They also knew the distance they wanted to travel. By determining both the pace size and the distance needed to cover they could establish the time it will take by applying a certain beat of the drum and fife. For example if the pace of a soldier is 4 feet and the soldier was trying to get one mile then by determing that it would take 1320 paces to cover that. The average drum beat is 96 beats per minute ( a beat equals a step) it is determined that it will take 13 minutes and forty five seconds to cover that distance. Here is the proof : 1 mile times 5280 ft/ mile divided by 1 pace/ 4 feet equals 1320 paces. Divide that by the 96 beats (steps per minute) and it will come out to 13.45 or 13 minutes and 3 quarters. By using this equation the officers are able to know how long it will take to get from point A to point B. The beat could also be manipulated to arrive earlier or later than this projected time.
Also on the march, the musician provided the soldiers entertainment. Besides just the common marches they would play country dances, folk songs (Yanky Doodle, for example), Ballads (Welcome, Welcome Brother Debtor), songs of love ( The Girl I left Behind Me), and patriotic songs (Rule Britannia, British Grenadiers). It is also a feasible idea that the soldiers wrote their own lyrics to these songs and sang them in camp.
Other minor roles of the musician were being messengers between officers. Sort of the equivalent to the Civil Wars runner. And ceremonial.