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Connecticut’s Fife and Drum Tradition
James Clark

The Driftless Connecticut Series
Garnet Books
2011 • 196 pp. 75 illus. 7 x 9"
Music / History

$29.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7141-0

$23.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7142-7

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

"(C)oncise and beautifully written. (A) masterful volume."Maine Antique Digest

The first full account of this beloved American music tradition

The state of Connecticut boasts an extensive and active community of fife and drum groups. This musical tradition has its origins in the small military bands maintained by standing armies in Britain and Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—the drum was especially important as it helped officers train soldiers how to march, and was also used to communicate with troops across battlefields. Today fifers and drummers gather at conventions called “musters,” which may include a parade and concerts featuring the various participating corps. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest muster ever was held in Deep River, Connecticut, in 1976. Musician and historian James Clark is the first to detail the colorful history of this unique music. This engaging book leads the reader through the history of the individual instruments and tells the story of this classic folk tradition through anecdotes, biographies, photographs, and musical examples.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Clark is perfectly suited to his task. An intimate of the form itself as a student, teacher, director, and performer, he is also a trained scholar. His research was extensive and incisive.”—Renee Rothman, Journal of Folklore Research

“The author, James Clark, has created a valuable resource that sheds light on an important regional tradition of American music. His book is written in a way that is useful to scholars, yet accessible to the drum and fife corps community. The first section of the book, dedicated to the time period before and during the Civil War, provides an especially important review of the American literature, consideration of drum manuals, and discussion of techniques.”
Jayson Dobney, Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society, Vol. XXXIX

“At last, the definitive history of Connecticut fifing and drumming, from Baron von Steuben’s Revolutionary War drill manual, to its zenith in the Civil War, to the decline (but never the fall) of today’s Ancients’ continuation of the craft.”—John Moon, former director of music, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

“This is a remarkable, deeply informed, and engagingly personal introduction to a Connecticut tradition that is rich in history and heritage, deeply rooted in many towns, and a significant slice of Americana.”Mark Slobin, professor of music, Wesleyan University

JAMES CLARK is a founding member of the Connecticut Valley Field Music, a fife and drum band based in Middletown, Connecticut. A true advocate of this music, Clark gives lectures and demonstrations to a wide array of audiences around the state, across the nation, and in Europe.

A Driftless Connecticut Series Book
This book is a 2011 selection in The Driftless Connecticut Series,
for an outstanding book in any field on a Connecticut topic
or written by a Connecticut author.
The Driftless Connecticut Series is funded by the
Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund
at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
For more information and a complete list of books in The Driftless Connecticut Series,
please visit us online at

Fri, 6 Jul 2018 13:17:41 -0500