Connecticut's Fife and Drum Tradition
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Wesleyan University Press
This book is very much a history of my extended family, for the fifers and drummers of the Northeast have been a family to me. I would like to thank Paul Cormier for his friendship and for the endless string of drum corps stories and history that he has related to me during many a late night that turned too soon into dawn. I also owe a great deal to the late Ken Lemley, ...
In the fall of 1963, nearing my ninth birthday, I was given a purple-inked, bureaucratic form offering me a choice among musical instruments that I could choose to study in East Hampton’s public school music program. I have no idea why I chose the snare drum, but I did. This set in train a series of events that has largely shaped my subsequent experience. No sooner, it ...
1. Origins of the Fife and Drum
The early colonists were not Americans but adventurers, pioneers, sometimes outcasts from Europe, establishing settlements in a new, vast, and strange land. Familiar customs and folkways provided continuity and reassurance for colonists isolated from their homes in Europe. Both the fife and the drum were simple to make from materials ready to hand, and ...
2. A New Nation
For nearly two hundred years, many Americans believed the War of Independence had been the defining moment in our common cultural history. The stories that were told about the revolutionary days and the morals drawn from them shaped an important set of ideas about American society. The fife and drum, in their own small way, formed part of that cultural self- ...
3. The Early National Period and the Civil War
Following the establishment of independence, the citizens of the thirteen states had to establish a correct relationship between state and federal powers. It was during this period that Connecticut became more of a manufacturing center, as population began to move toward the factory towns. Some of our nation’s earliest industrial achievements were those of ...
4. The Connecticut Fifers and Drummers Association
The civil war ended in April 1865, and thereafter the fife and drum rapidly diminished in importance in the United States military, to be replaced by the bugle and the military band. But the mass mobilization of the Civil War had broadened the public’s interest in all things military, including field music. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, fife and drum ...
5. The Connecticut Ancient Corps of Moodus and East Hampton
The lower Connecticut river valley even today consists of small towns interspersed between generous patches of woods, and sheltered from modern life by the river. Crossing the river was not casually undertaken in the nineteenth century, and even today there are only four crossings between Long Island Sound and Hartford. Haddam, Higganum, Deep River, ...
6. The Contemporary Tradition
For those who began playing fifes and drums as young people in the 1960s and later, the old reference points of American patriotism and local tradition were weakened by rapid changes in our culture and the increasing geographic mobility of the population. The Vietnam War and the Watergate scandals severely damaged the reflexive patriotism most Americans felt ...