Music has been an indispensable component of armies throughout history. During the second half of the 18th Century most American, British, French and German armies employed drummers, fifers, pipers or buglers as field music. The main function of the field music was communication. It was the musician's duty to relay signals in battle, on the march and in camp. The sounds of the drums and fifes assembled the men and informed them to dismiss.
On the battlefield there were signals to prepare to fire, advance, and retreat. In camp music served as the soldiers' clock to regulate their activities. Reveille was beat at sunrise to wake the men, the Troop was beat at 8:00 am to assemble the men for roll call and inspection; the Retreat was played at sunset to signal the men to go off duty, and Taptoo was beat by 10:00 pm as a signal for "lights out" The march was regulated by fifes and drums which kept an even cadence or pace. In that way, the music helped to maintain discipline and made it possible to move large bodies of soldiers in an orderly fashion and on time.
In addition to those duties, music was also a major part of military ceremonies such as receiving and lodging of colours, parades and reviews, punishments and funerals. The addition of music to ceremonies is continued to this day and demonstrates the power of music in affecting emotions and patriotism.
The 2d Virginia Regiment recruits musicians as well. All music performed has been researched and documented from 18th Century sources, so the music you hear today is how it was over 200 years ago. As in the armies of that period, our musicians are males at least 12 years of age. Throughout the day the field music plays the various signals, duties and marches that were used for functional or inspirational purposes.