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Edward H. Tarr

(Fr. fanfare; Ger. Fanfare; It. fanfara)

(1) A flourish of trumpets or other brass instruments, often with percussion, for ceremonial purposes. Fanfares are distinct from military signals in usage and character. In addition to its musical meaning, ‘fanfare’ has always had a figurative meaning. The root, fanfa (‘vaunting’), goes back to late 15th-century Spanish. Although etymologists believe the word to be onomatopoeic, it may in fact be derived from the Arabic anfár (‘trumpets’). The word ‘fanfare’ occurs for the first time in French in 1546 and in English in 1605, in both instances figuratively; it was first used to signify a trumpet flourish by Walther, although it may have been used earlier to mean a hunting signal: See (3) below.

Walther, Altenburg and an anonymous 18th-century author belonging to the Prüfende Gesellschaft in Halle all agreed that a fanfare was ‘usable on all days of celebration and state occasions’ and consisted of ‘a mixture of arpeggios and runs’ improvised by trumpeters and kettledrummers (J.E. Altenburg, 91); a ‘flourish’ in the British Army during the same period was ‘without any set rule’. Heyde has shown that this type of unreflective improvisation, the purpose of which was to glorify a sovereign, goes back to trumpeters’ ...


Hubert Unverricht

revised by Janet K. Page

(Ger.: ‘field music’)

A term used for the fanfares, and later other compositions, also known as Feldstücke, ‘needed in the field at warlike happenings’ (Altenburg, 88); alternatively it applied to an ensemble that played such pieces. The term referred originally to the corps of military trumpeters which replaced the drum and fife bands widely used in the Middle Ages.

In 1704 J.P. Krieger published six suites in his collection Lustige Feld-Music, auf vier blasende oder andere Instrumenta gerichtet, extending the term to include works for wind groups. As these groups had at first played double-reed instruments, their members were known as Hautboisten or Oboisten, (see Hautboist) even though from early in the 18th century the ensemble often included other types of instrument. The Feldmusik were military musicians, but they also performed for court festivities and entertainments, either as a self-contained ensemble or as part of a larger group. These Feldmusik ensembles, especially as used for entertainment, became known in about ...


H.G. Farmer

Tunes played on the fife to regulate military activities. When the fife was reintroduced into the British army in 1746 fife calls, to the drum’s accompaniment, became the rule. They were possibly founded on 17th-century calls such as those that existed in France. Ex.1 shows the ‘Drummers’ Call’ from Potter’s treatise. Fife calls were used in Britain until the 1890s, the last official version being ‘Drum and Flute [i.e. Fife] Duty’, issued ...


Roger Hellyer

In its widest sense, music for wind instruments. Within its ambit have come a variety of musical styles: for instance, the French commonly use the term ‘harmonie militaire’ to refer to military bands, even the massed wind bands of the Napoleonic era: Elgar wrote Harmony Music for his domestic wind quintet; the Germans refer to the wind quintet as the ‘Harmonie-Quintett’. The title of Haydn's Harmoniemesse (1802) is explained by the prominence of wind instruments in that work. Mendelssohn’s Harmoniemusik op.24 (1824) is for 23 wind instruments and percussion. In its more limited sense the term was fully current only from the mid-18th century until the 1830s when it was primarily applied to the wind bands (Harmonien) of the European aristocracy and the music written for them, and secondarily to their popular imitations in street bands (Mozart told in a letter to his father, 3 November 1781...


Peter Downey

Signals intended to transmit information, commands or encouragement to an army during battle or in camp, to a navy during engagement or on voyage, and to royal and noble households at court and on tour, and also employed to embellish ceremonial occasions. Military calls are played on various musical instruments, including trumpets, bugles, flutes, drums and kettledrums, and are usually, but not exclusively, performed monophonically....