Fifes & Drums of the Old Barracks

Fifes and Drums Debut

The Old Barracks Museum debuted of its own corps of fifers and drummers at its annual Capital Ball gala on January 31, 2004. Recruited from middle school and high school students in Trenton, Hamilton Township, Ewing , and Bucks County , they have been organized and trained under the direction of Stephen Hudak, of Newtown, PA, instrumental music teacher at Antheil School in Ewing, and timpanist for the Trenton Symphony Orchestra, with the assistance of Andrew J. Wierzbowski, a woodwind specialist and clarinetist with the Boheme Opera Company, who has taught in the Hamilton schools for twenty years. The uniforms were expertly tailored and production arranged for by adult fifer J.J. Newberry with assistance from senior fifer Andrew Kirke. Mr. Newberry is well known for his accurate reproductions of 18th century clothing. Together, these men have created an exceptional fife and drum corp.

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During the American Revolution, in both the British and Continental Armies, each of the 8 to 10 companies of every regiment fielded one fifer and one drummer who were often young men in their teens. Chief among their duties were the playing of distinctive beatings accompanied by short tunes that comprised a system of signal by which the entire soldier's day was organized, as well as his performance on the drill and battlefields. There were "calls" or "duties" for reveille, assembly, going for fatigue details, loading their weapons, firing, cease firing, marching to the right or left, etc. Playing such a critical role, they traditionally wore uniform coats comprised of the reverse color combination worn by the other soldiers in their regiment. A Continental regiment who wore uniform coats of blue with red facings, for example, would field musicians wearing red coats with blue facings. In addition to their signaling duties, they adapted many popular songs and dance tunes of the day for marches and often would play airs by noted composers of the time for the entertainment of their officers and visiting dignitaries.

The Fifes and Drums of the Old Barracks are as authentically uniformed, and present as authentic a repertoire as the most current, exhaustive research can allow. Their uniforms are those that would have been worn by the musicians of the 2nd New Jersey Regiment, four of whose eight companies were raised in this very Barracks in Trenton in December of 1775.

Masterpiece Medley - This arrangement was arranged using two tunes refering to the use of the word Masterpiece and that is the only connection. The first melody is by Jean Joseph Mouret (1682-1750) it is also known as "Fanfare for a King's Banquet " originally written for the harpsichord. Our connection to this melody was its' use as the theme for the series "Masterpiece Theatre". The second melody, "Fifer's Masterpiece" was part of Thomas Nixon's fife melodies (1778) but was untitled. The Robbin's book of 1812 lists the title as "Fifer's Master Piece". in this particular coupling the minor tonality is a stark contrast to the to the opening theme.

Gli Uccelli-L'Oiseau Royal Medley - This arrangement consists of three melodies that refer to birds of some similarity. The first melody was used by the Italian composer Resphigi in his orchestral suite titled the "Birds". However the composer used melodies from earlier times during his Neoclassical Period. This melody was written by Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710 ) as part of a keyboard sonata and a microfiche copy exists at the Westminster Library in Princeton. This melody serves as the bookends for the other tunes since it is used in the beginning and as a wrap up for the medley. The second melody , "L'Oiseau Royal" or Royal Bird comes to us by way of the Brigade of the American Revolution where the tune is listed as being part of the Greenwood Manuscript in the Brigade's Musick Book. The third melody , "The Peacock" is an Irish melody used at closing time more commonly known as " Good Night and Joy Be With You All" or "The Parting Glass". In the eighteenth century the peacock was a symbol of eternity.

La Rejouissance - The very familiar melody from the "Fireworks Music" of George Frederic Handel. Our arrangement is for fifes in three part harmony and drums enhancing the rejoicing effect by antiphonal entrance in pairs.

Fisher's Hornpipe - A tour de force for the fifes and drums, not only is there melodic interest in this arrangement by James Newberry but visual entertainment with some fancy stickwork by the drums.

The Ash Grove - The well known Welsh ballad is used to feature the fifes in plaintive melody arranged by J.J. Newberry.

The Marches

Yankee Doodle 1778 version published by James Aird in his" Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs."
British Grenadiers 1780 Beck Manuscript
La Belle Catherine 1780 Button and Whitaker's Pocket Collection of Favorite Marches
Guardian Angels 1778 Aaron Thompson's Fife Manuscript from the 3rd New Jersey Regiment
Maggie Lauder 1776 John Greenwood's Manuscript
The King Enjoys His Own Again
(The World Turned Upside Down)
Oswald, London 1752
Governor King's March 1778 version published by James Aird in his" Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs."
The Drum 1776 John Greenwood's Manuscript
Successful Campaign Murphy 1790

Ceremonial Music

Drummer's Call and Assembly Thompson 1759
The Roast Beef 1778 version published by James Aird in his" Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs."