Download PDF by Kolb T.: Amazing Phrasing

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By Kolb T.

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As a Jewish moneylender, he is far removed from the demotic festivities and the “shallow foppery” of the unlettered, unwashed, and unmoneyed. These two examples from Shakespeare illuminate the double character of the fife and drum: they represent the pageantry, power, and ordered violence of the military but also the festive sociability and intoxicating freedom of the masque. As Shakespeare here suggests, the uses of the fife and drum in these early days were significantly different from what we think of today as a fife and drum corps: first, the size of the group was always very small: it would have been common to hear a single drummer providing military signals or a marching beat for a group of soldiers, or a single fifer improvising or playing familiar folk melodies.

The drum, as a useful tool for signaling across large distances, was an acceptable instrument so long as its use was restricted to its proper duties, but there was little place for the fife in early colonial New England, for the Puritans were not a lighthearted people, and the fife is essentially a comic instrument. The strictures of these Puritans were too severe to last. At least, they were too severe for the English who came to New England, and for the children who were born to them here in America.

The “Dragoon’s March” is in G major. The first strain is an irregular five-bar phrase; the second is a pleasingly symmetrical eight bars, with a slight pause halfway through, dividing it into two equal four-bar subphrases. From The Complete Country Dance Tunes from “Playford’s Dancing Master,” edited by Jeremy Barlow. Copyright 1985 by Faber Music Ltd, London, WC1B 3DA; reproduced by permission of the publishers. All rights reserved. Phrase Length Marches, like dances, are largely defined by the way they encourage us to move.

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Amazing Phrasing by Kolb T.

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