Daily Life of Soldiers and Officers
Caption: Drum Major, Corps of Drummers and Fifers, Royal Regiment of Artillery, Woolwich, circa 1840
It was most likely the British army which introduced true military bands to Canada. In the beginning, these bands consisted of small groups of 10 or even fewer musicians, such as the band of the 46th Regiment, which in 1765 had only six musicians. But the bands grew in size over the years, and at the beginning of the eighteenth century often had around 20 musicians.
The band music heard by our ancestors was certainly different from contemporary bands, as attested to by the following list of instruments for the band of the 49th Regiment, formed in 1813: 14 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 10 flutes, 2 horns, 1 trumpet, 1 serpent, kettledrums and a pair of triangles. Several also had a "jingling Johnnie," an instrument consisting of a cymbal or crescent-shaped crossbars made of copper, all hung with small bells and attached to a wooden pole. It was fashionable for a regimental band to have Black kettledrum players. They dressed in the Turkish style with turbans and embroidered vests, and usually wore a silver collar and bracelets.
Army musicians often played as orchestras at balls and concerts, for which they were generally paid by means of an admission charge. There were also many benefit concerts. In 1820 the bands of the two regiments in garrison in Quebec gave a concert to raise money for needy immigrants. Theatre actors also depended on military bands for some of their financing. A public band concert was a rare opportunity for ordinary people to hear orchestra music free of charge.
- Date modified: