Turk's March (1)

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X:1 T:Turk's March [1] M:C| L:1/8 S:Aird - Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs vol. II (c. 1785) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:G Bc|dcde d2c2|BABc B2A2|GFGA GAB[Gc]|A4 D2 Bc| dcde d2c2| BABc B2 g2|f2 ed e2 dc|(d4 d2)|| d2|g2d2B2 AG|e2e2 d2 cB|c2 de dcBc| {B}A4 D4| GFGA BABc|d2 ef g2c2|BAGA D2F2|G4 G2||



TURK'S MARCH [1], THE. English, March. This march was played by the American forces under General Benjamin Lincoln at their surrender at Charleston on May 12, 1780. The choice was "no doubt Lincoln's attempt to avoid the complete humiliation inherent in performing an American march under these circumstances" (Camus, 1976, p. 154). It is perhaps the "Turkish March" in 2/4 time printed by Ralph Sweet (1965/1981; p. 79). A "Turkish March" appears in G. Goulding's 'New and Complete Instructions for the Fife (1787-1799, p. 8) published in London, England, and appears under the title "Turkish March in the Battle of Prague" in several other manuscripts (see “March in the Battle of Prague”). Longman, Lukey & Co. printed it in their Compleat Instructions for the Fife (London, 1770), and Thompson & Son included it in Compleat Tutor for the Fife (London), editions of 1760, 1770 and 1786. David Rutherford printed it in his Compleat Tutor for the Fife (London, 1756). Fiddler and poet John Clare (Helpston, Northants) included two versions in his c. 1820 music manuscript; one as “Turk’s March,” and another as “Quickstep in the Battle of Prague,” and Ensign Thomas Molyneaux (6th Regmt.) noted it in his copybook in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, in 1788, with the alternate title “or, The Church Call”. Aird (1782) prints two “Turks March” tunes, the first being the same as the “Turk’s March” in Clare’s ms.

David Murray, in his excellent book Music of the Scottish Regiments (Edinburgh, 1994), explains that the music of the Ottoman empire began to influence Europe and the military band in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly through Austria, whose troops associated the “often intimidating sound of the Turkish martial music” with the Corps of Janissaries, composed of Christian boys, captured and brought up as Muslims and rigorously trained as elite troops. Particularly of note in this music was the use of percussion, with drums of various sizes and timbres, cymbals and triangles. Murray says that these Janissary bands were at times presented whole to various European heads of state, and, as time wore on, when members died they were replaced by local musicians, “and the Turkish reed and brass instruments were discarded in favour of oboes, horns, trumpets and bassoons,” although the percussion section was retained. In fact, writes Murray, “there is evidence that it was a standard element in Prussian military bands by about 1777. “British military bands were not behindhand in acquiring the elements of the Turkish or Janissary percussion. Another Continental fashion taken up with enthusiasm by the British in the 18th century, was the enlistment of black youths to play these exotic Turkish percussion instruments, rather than fresh-faced lads from the plough tail or the slums, which were even then beginning to proliferate in the wake of the industrial revolution” (p. 86). There was a surplus of black lads due to the British emancipation of slaves, and the consequent turning out of servants so as to not have to pay them wages. Murray suggests that certain military affectations (such as the twirling of the bass drum sticks, and the wearing of tiger and leopard skins) stemmed from the practice of encouraging costumes and capering by these musicians. “But at least one turned out to be a proper soldier. Drummer Charles Bogle was a ‘man of colour’, a fact sedulously concealed by the Victorian chroniclers of his regiment. He died at the Siege of Burgos in 1812, fighting most gallantly, wielding his drummer’s broadsword in single combat with a French soldier, who died equally gallantly. Their bodies were recovered, the Frenchman run through with Charlie’s sword, his bayonet through Charlie’s body.”

American musicians also played the “Turk’s March [1].” It appears in the music manuscript copybookx of Silas Dickinson (Amherst, Mass., c. 1800), John Turner (Norwich, Conn., 1788).


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - John Clare (Helpston, Northants) [Callaghan].

Printed sources : - Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. II), c. 1785; p. 3, No. 6. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 52.






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