Traditional Fife and Drums – An Alternate Version of the „Garryowen“

May 25, 2010 4:00 am in Drumset, Marching by Claus Hessler

I remember that one of my most important mentors, Jim Chapin, used to consider playing on a rope tension drum as some kind of litmus test regarding certain technical skills. In fact Sanford Moeller even gave him a drum that he received from one of the veterans that he observed; unfortunately the drum got stolen since Jim never locked his car …

Anyway; understanding that there is a musical relationship between a drum and flute part is something which is almost forgotten in these days. Many of the pieces had a special function in the military use (like waking up the soldiers, getting them ready for the march etc.) and are part of what we know today as the „Camp Duty“. This collection of tunes was also the most important source when the 26 Rudiments were chosen in the beginning 30‘s.

For my column that I write with the German magazine „drums & percussion“ I elaborated on a number of these traditional tunes and created alternating versions to the original fife part. I also included a good amount of Swiss Rudiments that can be found in traditional Basle Drumming. Some of these patterns are still not included in the 40 PAS Standard Rudiments as we know them today and a fair number of them looks pretty wild on paper. However you will notice that most of them can be played very comfortable.

This little video clip is about one of the more famous fife and drum tunes; the so called „Garryowen“. The history of this ancient Irish piece dates back to the 17th century; throughout the years the melody has spread into many countries and it is still one the most common military marches in the US today. Beside VF marching sticks I use a rope tension drum that has been manufactured by Cooperman; the shell is solid esh while the hoops are solid, bended pieces of maple. The tacking design on the side was originally found in a  place called „King‘s Landing“ (for those of you who have probably heard about this little village located on the east coast of Canada.

So, before we get a little deeper into some of the rudimental passages just lean back, listen to the tune and enjoy! Hope you like it; feel free to contact me for any comments questions or whatever comes to your mind!