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Posted on: July 1st, 2024 by hauleymusic No Comments

Of all the Duty Calls, the fife music for the Drummer’s Call is surprisingly the most varied over time.

While the fife music remains the same in the 18th C. Fife tutors, we see quite a bit of variations and alterations in many 18th century fife MS and in 19th century fife manuals and MS. 

Drummer’s Call from 18th century fife tutors: Rutherford, Thompson, Longman & Broderip. Also seen in Giles Gibbs fife MS (American; c. 1777)

Loss Of The Rest

Some American fife MS’s from the Revolutionary War show the regulation English tune.

However, others demonstrate that changes and embellishments are already altering the tune.

The rest has disappeared and the final note is cut to a quarter note instead of a half note.

Some triplets have embellished the phrase and some notes are altered, although the melody is still largely the same.

Drummer’s Call from 18th century American fife manuscripts, Thompson MS (1777) and Murphy MS  (1790).

Even the British fife music eventually drops the rest and cuts the length of the final note.

Drummer’s Call from Buttrey’s MS.

The original 18th C. tutor has 9 measures; once the rest is removed, the tunes are a more traditional 8 measures. However, some versions are even shorter. Robbins is only 7 measures. Hazeltine is 6 measures.