Air (23)

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X:1 T:Air [23] T:Retreat, A M:3/4 L:1/8 S:The Buttery Manuscript (c. 1784-1820, No. 36, p. 8) N:John Buttery (1784-1854) joined the 34th Regiment in Lincoln, N:Lincolnshire, England, in 1797 and served as a fifer until discharged in N:1814. His large ms. contains marches, duty calls, dance tunes and airs. N:EASMES identifies this as the Fife MS. and suggests a date of 1780, see N: https://www.cdss.org/elibrary/Easmes/Index.htm Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:D ag|fg a2c2|d>e f2A2|B2 gedc|{c}d2c4(?)| A2 B>A B2 c>d|AF D2A2|BABcdF|F2E2:| |:GF|GB e2G2|FA d2A2|BABcdF|F2E2 ag| fg a2 c2|de f2A2|B2 gedc|{c}d4:|]



AIR [23]. English, Air (3/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. The melody, under the simple descriptive "A Retreat", is contained in the music copybook [1] of John Buttery (1784-1854), a fifer with British army's 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot (so designated in the army reorganization of 1782), who served from 1797-1814. Later in life Buttery emigrated to Canada, where he died. In his manuscript Buttery identifies the tune as "A Retreat", which in military use represents the musical announcement of the end of the day's activities and a time for rest. The operant condition for a retreat was a specific drum roll, over which a melody--any melody--could be played, and it was the drum roll (not the tune) that was the musical signal for a retreat. The Buttery manuscript, as well as other period military manuscripts, often include a variety tunes that are labelled 'Retreats', which were selections the musician employed for the duty. Buttery's manuscript collection has also been identified as belonging to John Fife [1], with a suggested date of 1780. Fife was a family name, like Buttery, identified with the manuscript.

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Back to Air (23)

  1. Early American Secular Music and Its European Sources, https://www.cdss.org/elibrary/Easmes/Index.htm