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Frances Perry
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Location: West Yorkshire
Joined: 01 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Apr, 2013 3:42 am    Post subject: Battle Formation using Drums (and horns) for Instruction         Reply with quote

Dear all,

I hope that you can be of some help to me and a colleague of mine regarding the movement of large numbers of troops in battle via formations called by musical instruments.

I pursued this line of inquiry for a short time about 4 years ago on the topic of horns and trumpets, as I felt there was evidence for their use in ancient through to 20th century battles. However, when I suggested to my re-enactment federation regarding the use of trumpets on the 15th century battlefield I was scoffed at and the whole matter was buried.

Now, my colleague would like to know about drums. Please be aware that I have already done a rudimentary search of this forum for drum-related threads, none of which specifically refer to battle formation and movement of troops.

Does anyone have any references which might be of help, or books which my colleague could refer to? Please see his question below:

I am currently trying to find out information with regards to the role of drumming within medieval warfare. As it is with the internet I have found out some facts and information, though the accuracy of this information is debatable and laughable at times as some “facts” have contradicted others and when it is not referenced to any academic material it hard to know whether or not it’s true, speculation or just plain made up. Does anyone please know of any books which may deal with this topic and even have any drum score of military rhythms?

What I have gathered (hopefully reliably) is that drums were used to pass orders down the line so different orders will therefore have different rhythms and I would love to learn some of these for demonstrations. I have also read that there would be around 2 drummers per hundred men to signal and pass on orders. Therefore if Towton figures stand at 80,000 men on the field there would be around 1600 drummers. That’s quite an evocative thought when you think of how that intimidating and inspiring sound would impact on the soundtrack of the battle.

Thank you for any help you can shed on this topic.

“In these modern times, many men are wounded for not having weapons or knowledge of their use.”
- Achille Marozzo, 1536
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Mart Shearer

Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,291

PostPosted: Thu 04 Apr, 2013 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote
In the early days drum rudiments and patterns or scores were taught by “Rote". It seems to be agreed historically that some form of Military snare drum score notation was in use at least in the 17th century. Patterns or regulated beatings would all have to be memorized. The drum was widely used in warfare in England and elsewhere to give signals for the soldiers to „Troop, Advance, March or Retreat etc. There was an English Royal Warrant issued in 1632, defining the drum sequence for the„"Voluntary before the March" and "The March".

Good luck finding scoring before that 1632 reference.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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