Military-style, historical, traditional… Fifes for fife & drum corps, for folk music, for historical dance.
The fife dates back, as far as we have been able to ascertain, to Europe around the 12th century. That is not very clear, for it is a form of flute and flutes of varying forms are much, much older. But the fife as distinct from the transverse (or horizontally held) flute certainly comes about around that time. It is, in essence, what might be termed a “tabor pipe with benefits”; it consisted of a tube, almost always of wood, with a very tight bore meant to sacrifice the tone and volume of the lowest register to favour the second and third registers which, when played, carry quite the distance and could be heard over other, loud instruments such as its traditional association with the side or field drum. Its obvious application was for martial use in providing recognizable tunes in company with the drum for military “camp duties” and specific “calls” during battle wherein troops could hear the commands without necessarily seeing the commander… Serving the purpose of radio communication, as it were. But it also was known for folk dance music as well as work accompaniment music much like the pipe and tabor and can actually still be found in this capacity in some remote villages throughout western Europe. As the transverse flute began to evolve, so too the fife which eventually became the piccolo, the instrument of choice in fife and drum music cultures such as for the Swiss Fasnacht. In fact when performing on any fife one might benefit from regarding it more as a piccolo than a flute.
For your amusement, although copyrighted and not for general public re-use. – YE ART OF YE FYFE
The traditional fife is an example of an instrument still reflecting the varying pitches of the 18th and 19th centuries… You might do yourself a service to read this.
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<< Je viens de recevoir le fifre aujourd’hui. Comme ceux-là, c’est vraiment génial et ça sonne très bien !! Vous devez dire sur votre site que je suis vraiment fan de votre travail !! >> Gilles Graimont, Paris, France
The Dillon/Cahusac Model Fife
Cloos Model Fife
Ralph copied this from a model fife made in the late 19th century by George Cloos of NY. Nickel-silver tapered ferrules, key of Bb only. REALLY popular design for some Civil War impressions and amongst fife & drums corps from the late 19th century through the 1950s.