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Music of the Forces

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An intro the Music in and of the Armed Forces

Field Music

This is probably an unfamiliar term to many, and I didn't come across it until the late 1980s when encountering the Charles W Dickerson (Field Music) Inc drum, Fife & Bugle Band. Honestly!.

The term encompasses all music used by the army in the field for the purpose of war, so pretty much everything except the professional musicians and the Regimental Band (and their Olde Worlde equivalents).

Corps of Drums

Olde World


The Fife - in its purest form a stick of wood with a cylindrical bore, a cork shoved up one end above a blow hole, and six other holes in line with the blow hole which would be covered with your fingers. The best explanation as to how to operate the instrument was given in episode 28 of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Cut to a sign saying 'How to do it'. Music. Pull out to reveal a 'Blue Peter' type set. Sitting casually on the edge of a dais are three presenters in sweaters - Noel, Jackie and Alan - plus a large bloodhound.

Alan: Hello.

Noel: Hello.

Alan: Well, last week we showed you how to become a gynaecologist. And this week on 'How to do it' we're going to show you how to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable, but first, here's Jackie to tell you all how to rid the world of all known diseases.

Jackie: Hello, Alan.

Alan: Hello, Jackie.

Jackie: Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any diseases ever again.

Alan: Thanks, Jackie. Great idea. How to play the flute. (picking up a flute) Well here we are. You blow there and you move your fingers up and down here.

Noel: Great, great, Alan. Well, next week we'll be showing you how black and white people can live together in peace and harmony, and Alan will be over in Moscow showing us how to reconcile the Russians and the Chinese. So, until next week, cheerio.

Alan: Bye.

Jackie: Bye.

Crying Down of the Credits explained
Beating Reveille explained
Beating Retreat explained
Beating Tattoo explained
Lodging the Colour explained
Trooping the Colour explained
Drumming Out

What we see nowadays


Links to Guild of Army Drummers/Corps of Drums Society

Pipes & Drums

Olde Worlde

What we see nowadays

Link to Pibroacht Society


Olde Worlde

What we see nowadays

Other Music

Regimental Bands

Olde Worlde

Link to IMMS

Occasional Bands

Steel Bands

Mandolin Bands