What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

The fife just looks like a smaller [?] flute to me >_> Piccolo equivalent?

Hmmm, this makes me want to get those High Whistle/Piccolo, Low Whistle/Flute things hehe…. Speaking of which, how are those?

Ok, I’m craving water and Samurai Warriors. ::Falls out window::

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

A fife is the mezzosoprano member of the flute family. Any transverse flute with a bell tone ranging from A to C is pretty much a fife. The Bb ones are most often used for martial music. In the North of Ireland they call them ‘band flutes’ Fifers tend to play in the 2nd & 3rd registers, with lots of tounging. Since the style is totally different & most fifes are in Bb they don’t usually jive with Irish music - but if the fifer knows & respects ITM some decent music can be made.

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

A fife is a small, high-pitched, transverse flute used primarily to accompany drums in a military or marching band. The pitch of the fife lies between that of the concert flute and piccolo. The fife, like the flute, is an open pipe, for although the upper end is stopped by means of a cork, an outlet is provided by the embouchure which is never entirely closed by the lips. The six finger-holes of the primitive flute, with the open end of the tube for a key-note, gave the diatonic scale of the fundamental octave; the second octave was produced by overblowing the notes of the fundamental scale an octave higher; part of a third octave was obtained by means of the higher harmonics produced by using certain of the finger-holes as vent-holes. The modern fife has, in addition to the six finger-holes, 4, 5 or 6 keys. Mersenne describes and figures the fife, which had in his day the compass of a fifteenth. The fife, which, he states, differed from the German flute only in having a louder and more brilliant tone and a shorter and narrower bore, was the instrument used by the Swiss with the drum. The sackbut, or serpent, was used as its bass, for, as Mersenne explains, the bass instrument could not be made long enough, nor could the. hands reach the holes, although some flutes were actually made with keys and had the tube doubled back as in the bassoon. The words fife and the Fr. fifre were undoubtedly derived from the Ger. Pfeiff, the fife being called by Praetoriusi Schweizerpfeiff and Feldpfeiff, while Martin Agricola, writing a century earlier (1529), mentions the transverse flute by the names of Querchpfeiff or Schweizerpfeiff, which Sebastian Virdung writes Zwerchpfeiff. The Old English spelling was phffe, phiphe orffyffe. The fife was in use in England in the middle of the 16th century, for at a muster of the citizens of London in 1540, droumes and ffyffes are mentioned. At the battle of St Quentin (1557) the list of the English army employed states that one trumpet was allowed to each cavalry troop of 100 men, and a drum and fife to each hundred of foot. A drumme and phife were also employed at one shilling per diem for the Trayne of Artillery. This was the nucleus of the modern military band, and may be regarded as the first step in its formation. In England the adoption of the fife as a military instrument was due to the initiative of Henry VIII, who sent to Vienna for ten good drums and as many fifers. Ralph Smith gives rules for drummers and fifers who, in addition to the duty of giving signals in peace and war to the company, were expected to be brave, secret and ingenious, and masters of several languages, for they were oft sent to parley with the enemy and were entrusted with honourable but dangerous missions. In 1585 the drum and fife formed part of the furniture for war among the companies of the city of London Queen Elizabeth (according to Michaud, Biogr. universelle. tome xiii. p. 60) had a peculiar taste for noisy music, and during meals had a concert of twelve trumpets, two kettledrums, with fifes and drums. The fife became such a favourite military instrument during the 16th and 17th centuries in England that it displaced the bagpipe; it was, however, in turn superseded early in the 18th century by the hautboy introduced from France. In the middle of the 18th century the fife was reintroduced into the British army band by the duke of Cumberland n in the Guards in 1745, commemorated by William Hogarths pictui, of the March of the Guards towards Scotland in 1745, in which are seen a drummer and lifer; and by Colonel Bedford into the royal regiment of artillery in 1748, at the end of the war, when a Ianoverian fifer, John Ulrich, was brought over from Flanders as instructor.11 In 1747 the 19th regiment, known as Green Howards, also had the advantage of a Ianoverian fifer as teacher, a youth presented by his colonel to LieutenantColonel Williams commanding the regiment at Bois-le-Duc. Drum and fife bands in a short time became common in all infantry regiments, while among the cavalry the trumpet prevailed.

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

Looks like Mad Baloney beat me to the reply… so much for my long winded response.

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

Ummm @_@ Thanks guys for the replies ^_^ and thanks Murrough for the background =] Well, from what I skimmed through, I’ll read through it again later, thanks again!

::points to second question::

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

Don’t worry, it was really interesting! You said exactly what I was going to say!!

\())

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

A fife is basically a piccolo without keys. They were very popular in the British and American militaries (Army & Navy) and spread to local populations when the soldiers returned home. Fife & drum corps are very popular in New England. The most common fife, the Bb, is rather difficult to play with other instruments unless you transpose. However, there are D, G, and A fifes available, just like whistles. I like fifes more than whistles, because having a blowhole rather than a mouthpiece, they are capable of more expression. Fife & drum repertoire borrows heavily from Irish, English, and American traditional repertoire. To hear some samples of F&D, a good site is the Middlesex County Volunteers:
http://www.mcvfifesanddrums.org/mcvmilitary.shtml
Of of the clips is of the Fairy Queen, by O’Carolan, to see how they do at Irish music.
A collection of F&D music can be found at: http://www.fifedrum.org/resources/music/

-Andrew Plett
Oregon Fife & Drum Corps

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

Actually guys, it’s German for 5.

Here’s a quick lesson of German for ye:

F.U.N.E.X.?
= have you any eggs?

9.V.F.9.X.
= No, we have no eggs

F.U.N.E.M.?
= have you any ham?

9.v.f.9.m.r.x.

= No, we have no ham or eggs.

Easy, nein?

Joe

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

LOL!!!!!!

Posted by .

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

M.N.X.S.L.T.4.U

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

O__________________________________________o;;;

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

2 0 0 1 1 1 1 2
(daughter’s birthday)

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

Uhhhhhh, what the Hell just happened here?!

::Falls in a daze::

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

Nothing that doesn’t seem to happen elsewhere here… on occasion. Apologies (?) for my 4 a.m. (post-short-sleep, not post-all-nighter) contribution, which was inspired solely by jim troy’s 1s and 2s. Maybe should have stuck to lurking. This thread has been very educational, though, and boy that emboucher series has been just what I needed, 2 weeks into flute learning…

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

still none of which has anything to add to fife question

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

..er….hmmm…… cough………………………anyone there? It’s a bit dusty in here! Och well, …….Technically speaking, I have it on good authority that a Fife is a ‘one piece instrument’ & that you must call anything with more than one piece a Flute - or some big bruiser’ll come round & bash you! :-)

So, they’re all Flutes, but a Fife is a Fife is a Fife!

Re: What is a Fife? And how is it in comparison to the Flute/Whistle?

And I have been told that in the early Colonial days, the fife was the most common instrument in US households, and played for fun, to accompany singing, and for dancers. So, while today it is associated primarily with marching and martial settings, it once was used much more widely.