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Posted by Richard Ruquist on December 5, 2004 23:10:14 UTC

Luke 7:31-32
'We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;'

I am promoting the Boston Fife and Drum Revolution, a revival of fife and drum music in Boston sponsored by the Bostonia Allarum Companie. That could be the slogan of the promotion. I can understand why they did not dance to shrieking fifes. But ours are quite melodious. Just performed at the Paul Revere House this past Friday. But no dancing allowed.

You must know the the fife is a truly ancient instrument- pre-historic most likely. The forerunner of the fife was an instrument known as the cross flute or transverse flute, which were known to be popular in China as early as the 9th century B.C. Holes in bamboo reeds were carved or burned, one hole for the player to blow across and several finger holes to adjust the effective length of the reed. The word 'fife' comes from the Swiss word for cross flute: Schweitzerpfeiffen (Swiss fife)

But the drum is even more ancient. Egyptian tombs have yielded small snare drums used for ceremonies. A snare drum is played on one side, the top animal skin head, while the catgut strung across the bottom skinhead provides a simultaneous beat on the bottom head, thus in a sense hitting both heads at once, (the previous method was to strike both heads like the bass drum) apparently the invention of the Eqyotians. But I would not be surprised if the Chinese had not invented it first. They used drums in battle to send signals as early as the 5th Century BC. The first recorded use in Western societies was by the Swiss near Basal Switzerland in 1384 at the Battle of Sempach.

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