Fife & Drum at DRAM
The Deep River Ancient Muster, colloquially known as DRAM is the largest and oldest fife and drum muster in the world. The first run of this event first took place in 1953. This year about 45 different groups participated in the parade and performance, which is on the low side compared to their normal turnout.
This year marked Tryon Palace’s first return to the Deep River Ancient Muster since 2016. On the third Saturday of July the small town of Deep River Connecticut is transported back in time. Many groups like the Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corps represent the music and history of the American Revolution, but other groups represent different conflicts like the Civil War or the War of 1812. Still other bands represent groups that are not tied to a specific period, like the Ancient Mariners who march and perform in sailor garb.
The parade portion of DRAM began at 11am and lasted for a few hours until each corps had made it to Devitt Field. Up next was the ‘on-stand’ portion, where each corps had a chance to take to baseball field and perform a short set-list for each other and the general public. It was especially a treat to watch the Fort Myers Fire Department Fife and Drum Corps perform. This group is made up of former members of the Old Guard, a ceremonial unit in the United States Army that naturally includes a fife and drum corps.
Our very own Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corps debuted a tune they have been working on since January of 2021. Aux Champs (pronounced as ‘aw shomp’) is a French marching tune that was still in use but already old by the American Revolution. We played a modern version of this ancient tune graciously provided to us by Jérôme Orlandini of the Fifres et tambours de Fréjus, a French fife and drum corps in southern France.
If you attend any upcoming Tryon Palace events featuring our group (like the Stanly-Spaight duel on the 4th of September) you will certainly hear this martial tune for yourself as it has become a corps favorite!
Dram ended around 5:30pm and our group was awarded a plaque as a welcome back gift from our absence.
New England is the heartland of fife and drum not just in the United States, but the world over. Virginia is also well represented at this event. If you are lucky you may even see a corps all the way from Switzerland, the birthplace of military fife and drum music, at these events. The Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corps was the southernmost corps to attend this year. Most of our members drove an average of 650 miles to attend this event. However, the accolade for furthest corps went to a group all the way from Los Angeles, California. Our southern corps was happy to share in the spirit of 1776 with our northern compatriots, just as our forefathers did two and a half centuries ago. Next year we plan to be back for more!
Written by: Shane Mason, Historic Interpreter and Fife & Drum Coordinator