Fifes and Drums

When you think of American Revolutionary War, one integral aspect of the picture of that era is the fifes and drums. Along with the army, typically there was a group of teenagers (aged 10 to 18) who would play fifes (ancient flutes) and snare and bass drums. The musician would play tunes that accompany the soldiers marching and to sound signals and alarms to the troops. The tradition went back to the 16th century, and you can still see them in action today though it is mostly ceremonial in nature (for example, during parades).

At Colonial Williamsburg, they continue the tradition of having the Fifes and Drums by recruiting local young musicians to join the corp that play in Colonial Williamsburg or at other occassions throughout the year. These young musicians also learned about the role of music in the 18th century life, so they can teach others and continue the tradition into the future.

I took the photo below at the main street of Colonial Williamsburg, the Duke of Gloucester Street, when the fifes and drums corp marched through the town. It was neat to see people walking along to follow them, and there was a young boy with his drum who marched alongside the corp (the kid at the right of the photo). I thought that was a great picture of the idea of bringing history to life.

Fifes and drums

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