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DateOriginal Topic
12th March 2004Music the Bands would have played
By Scott Carson
What music would the Bands have played as well as military marches? Nowadays they play a large selection of civilian music and I thought it would make a good theme for a concert in the Brass Band that I am in.The music of the Zulu War. Getting the scores should not be a problem but I would need to know what was played
Thanks for any help
Scott Carson
13th March 2004Julian whybra
Home sweet home
Annie Laurie
The Warwickshire Lads of course
I've got some other mentions in letters, I'll look them up for you unless the others beat me to it.
13th March 2004John Young

"Kiss me, mother, kiss your darling", words by L.C. Lord, music by G.F. Root, was the tune that the 94th's band were playing in 1880, when they came under attack from a Boer commando.

"Cheer, Boys, Cheer!" words by C. Mackay, music by H. Russell, became popular in the Crimean War & the Indian Mutiny, actually a song urging immigration to America & Canada, it was still sung in 1879.

Tunes suchas "Marching through Georgia" & "When Johnnie Comes Marching Home Again" from the American Civil War, were also used in the Anglo-Zulu War. I have a parody on the former sung by the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment, about the relief of Eshowe.

"The Minstrel Boy" is an obvious song/tune, which is still played by military bands, although it is a 'civilian' ballad. Likewise, "The Bard of Armagh" - better known to our American cousins as "The Streets of Laredo".

Try getting hold of the 'Songs & Music of the Redcoats, 1642-1902' by Lewis Winstock, published in 1970. If you can't give me a shout, I got quite a few of the period songs & tunes.

John Y.
13th March 2004Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
What an interesting thread. Can anyone recommend a C.D. of music played by a military band that is specific to the Anglo-Zulu war period?
13th March 2004John Young

Nothing that I know of specific to the campaign, in roughly the same time frame try this link:

John Y.
13th March 2004Barry Iacoppi N.Z.
Thank you John. Iíll check that out.

14th March 2004Scott Carson
Thanks John & Julian
I wil pass on the info to our conductor.
I know that we have some of them already but did not realize they were connected.

Barry try contacting 'The British Bandsman' magazine they should be able to source a c-d with Victorian music on it.
Scott Carson

14th March 2004David Alan Gardner
Yes, intersting subject.Here is a midi of Cheers Boys Cheer!

I think it may have been played in Zulu Dawn, I'm not certain though.
14th March 2004David Alan Gardner
For Kiss Me mother, kiss your darling

14th March 2004David Alan Gardner
You might know that Root, who used this English translation of his German name, Wurzel,wrote the Battle Cry Of Freedom, probably one of his best known songs
15th March 2004Mike McCabe
All bands were periodically inspected, and were required to be able to play a standard repertoire of tunes so that they could easily integrated into massed bands for larger parades as required. In those days the established number of musicians was fairly small 16 or 20, and the band was usually augmented by the corps of drums (or bugles/pipes) to generate the volume of noise and variety required for larger parades, or on the line of march. The universaly conversion of band instruments to concert pitch was fairly recent, having begun in the 1860s, and was not made compulsory for all Army and Royal Marine bands at Home Stations until the 1880s. It was therefore not unusual to find some bands - especially in units that had been overseas for long periods in India before that date - still playing with instrumentation that was effectively that of a 'brass band' not least because of the ease of recruitment, and the lighness and versatilty of the instruments. Bands, as such, were officially supported to provide miltary music of the conventional kind. It was, though, customary for Officers to subscribe to a band fund to buy and maintain additional instruments and music to extend the band repertoire to enable them to play a wider range of music at concerts and other social occasions. This even extended to hiring additional musicians, either permanently or temporarily. Before commissioned directors of music were established, it was also fairly normal to hire distinguished civilian musicians in that capacity - for example the Sawerthal brothers who were directors respectively of the Royal Engineer and Royal Artillery bands - and one of whom had been director of the band of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. If you have a serious interest in defining a historical repertoire for your band, then you might like to consult the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall (near Twickenham) who may be willing to advise. Also, a number of the larger brass bands have ex military directors of music or bandmasters who could also help. You might not know it, but the TA Band of the Nottinghamshire Hussars still plays mostly as a brass band. They may be able to help with what will be your biggest problem - finding sheet music still in print for these classic traditional tunes.

15th March 2004Scott Carson
Thanks Mike
Dumfries Town Band have well over 100 old marches in their libary so it looks like time to go and raid them.
The Stewartry Wind Band in Castle Douglas have a Musical Director that played with the Dragoon Guards so I will pester him as well.
It is surprising what turns up in old bandrooms!!
Many thanks
15th March 2004Julian Whybra
Brighton Camp
I'm Leaving Thee in Sorrow, Annie
...more to come
16th March 2004Mike McCabe
Not forgetting the obvious. The bands deployed in Natal would have played whatever repertoire was sustainable with their small numbers and limited choice of instruments. Unable to burden themselves with the larger instruments and extra sheet music, they would probably have played well-known marches, and hymns that they could all simply 'busk' from memory. Also, they would have played whatever could be sustained 'fortissimo' on the march - having to breath, as well as blow, as they went along the line of march themselves. Surviving photographs sometimes show quite small brass instruments being carried, some more like 'bras band' rather than concert pitch orchestral versions. Also, some of today's band instruments - such as the trombone and saxophone - had yet to take on their modern designs. If they were very experienced musicians, some might also have taken two instruments. But, the problem of keeping reeds in good condition would have limited the choice of woodwind instruments. And, tunes that enabled the bugles, fifes and drums to join in - creating rests - would also have been popular (at least with the band musicians). Regarding the pipes, they too would have been difficult to keep working in the conditions that applied. I cannot recall any accounts referring to their use, but there must be some. Perhaps they remembered that old Scottish definition of a Highland gentleman: "Somebody who knows how to play the pipes, but doesn't!"
16th March 2004Julian whybra
The 32-member band is also recorded as playing lunchtime, afternoon, and evening concerts in the town as well as dances. I reckon they were a pretty versatile lot able to play by ear almost anything they fancied.
16th March 2004Julian whybra
As a post script the tunes I've mentioned are recorded in letters, etc as having been played by the 1/24th band during 1878/9.
16th March 2004Mike McCabe
Who had a 32 member band, and where?
17th March 2004Julian whybra
The 1/24th band as per the photo of them in South Africa.
17th March 2004Julian Whybra
Sincere apologies, Mike, I miscounted. There are 35 of them.
18th March 2004Scott Carson
Thanks lads!!!
That should give me enough to go on.
If you fancy a trip north of the border I will let you know when we get a concert organised.
21st March 2004richard
Somewhere i have a recording of the British Army tatoo at Wembley in 1979. The highlight is a re-enactment of rorkes drift, the bands play music of the era as well as the theme from the film, and of course the Warwickshire Lads as well.
24th March 2004Mike McCabe

Lost somewhere in my copy of The Red Soldier' was a reference in a letter of a band of the 24th marching up to RD playing 'Here's to the Noble 24th' and then marching back down the LofC from RD to Durban before the invasion crossing into Zululand. Raises interesting questions. Were both Bns of the 24th sharing one Regimental Band, or were there separate battalion bands. And then, were the comparatively few bandsmen at Isandlwana being employed as singletons in some medical/administrative capacity? A main body of 32/35 bandsmen was surely not at Isandlwana.

24th March 2004Julian whybra
As far as I am aware each battalion had its own band. Bear in mind that B, D, G coys 1/24th were not at Isandhlwana and that approx half (14?) of the bandsmen would not have been there. Those 20 or so that were were told off to act as stretcher-bearers and ammo carriers.
24th March 2004John Young

Page 66-7, the letter of Private Owen Ellis, published in 'The North Wales Express' on 28th February, 1879.

'...The bands of the first and second battalions of the 24th Regiment have been sent to Durban, where they will await our return to proceed on board the ship, whenever that will take place. ...'

However, Trooper F. Symons, Natal Carbineers, states, when referring to the 20th January, 1879; '...Then came the first 24th regiment, the band playing merrily, succedded by the long dark lines of the native allies, and with the second 24th bringing up the rear. ...'

Ellis or Symons, who do we believe?

John Y.
25th March 2004Julian Whybra
I don't see any discrepancy here John. Ellis wrote just after 11th January about the two bands. Perhaps, he meant to write that it was intended to send the bands to Durban, or the order was countermanded, or he was mistaken. The fact is that they didn't go to Durban. Symons sees the 1/24th band leading the line of march on 20th January, the 2/24th band would have been with the battalion at the rear. We know for a fact that the 1/24th band was in camp - they were heard playing on the 21st - and we know where they were posted during the 22nd.