Corps of Drums Society

Committee Meeting 23 November, 2012

Meeting commenced 1830 hrs

In Attendance:  P Nightingale (chairman),  P Hart,  P Foss,           G Fairfax,  C Fairfax

P Nightingale commenced by reading out his submission (attachment 1) regarding : Lewes and the ensuing correspondence, Cadet liaison, and the evolution of the Society.  Geoff Fairfax’s reply (attachment 2)was considered, and discussion followed.  P Nightingale was concerned about the ongoing verbal attacks from individuals on the above matters.  P Foss pointed out that they were individuals and not relevant from the perspective of the Society.  G Fairfax stated that the remarks made in correspondence targeted at the Chairman had been dogmatic and incorrect (eg “no bell lyres in Corps of Drums”).

P foss said that Corps had always reflected the demands of the time, for example including in the repertoire show tunes and football anthems.

Discussion followed and full agreement reached on the adoption of bell lyres into the Society.

P Foss read his submission (attachment 3) regarding developments for  the Society.  P Hart mentioned key differences : P Foss explained that for flutes and bell lyres to play together, some adjustment would be necessary.  P Nightingale pointed out that it was not envisaged that bell lyres and flutes would play together all the time – flutes, bugles and bell lyres would each have their own opportunity to play.   Also P Foss had provided in his paper some examples of how  the various instruments could be combined in some marches.  The Drummers Handbook provides instruction on how to combine the instrumentation.

P Foss’s final point about the Whitgift drummer turning up unexpectedly (and consequently not on the nominal roll) caused some concern because the Society would have been in breach of the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults legislation.     (Note – it has since been learned that the drummer was not a minor under the terms of the legislation, but had not attended any practices and did not know the music).                                            It was resolved that the membership shopuld be reminded through the Newsletter that those proposing to parade with the Society have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with the music through private practice and attending music meetings, and to ensure that their turnout is acceptable.

P Hart announced that the latest Drummers Call is ready and will be available in PDF format for those who would like it.

Meeting concluded 1900 hrs.


To The Society, From the Chairman

I do not know where start and in what order to put things, so please bear with me.

1. With regards to music we play on the Lord Mayors Show this is sorted out by the committee and members who ask for certain marches. There are easy marches, medioca  marches and hard marches. This is to enable members at various levels to achieve something each year. Not to play the same marches year in and year out. If that happened I think I would lose the will to play.

2. The Lewis Bonfire, used to belong to “I believe “ the Hastings Corps of Drums.It has never been proposed that it be taken on by the society it has always been presumed by those that do it and the person who advertises it with the organisers.

(I wonder what would happen if while at the bonfire, a person in the corps was injured or an instrument was broken, would they want to claim on the Society insurance and would they be able to?)

3.With regards to youth, there is 4 corps that belong to the society that have young members but they do not play the “Correct “instrument.  (Syston Scouts, Chesham Girls, Sandhurst and District and Farnborough Royal British Legion) They could be nurtured into being flute players later on.

I do hope that Mark Goatcher has success with the 60 interested youngsters that he has. We have tried to liaise with the cadets before but they only want instructors to go and teach.


The Society needs to evolve, as corps of drums have done through the ages. In the army corps and civilian, Fife’s have changed to Flutes, the size of side drums have change, instruments have come in and gone out ie. tenor drums, cymbals, triangles, bell lyres. We need to be a society for today not the 1970’s, we have to move forward with the times and use the young members that we have, and try to engage them in the art of flute playing as they get older. If this is not done, what will happen in 5 or 10 years time when we will have few flute players?

Bell Lyres have only been used in parts of the army (The Guards Division and the HAC never used them) but there is nothing to say we cannot use them.

We have to move forward and establish ourselves as a society that will accept youngsters that have the enthusiasm to join and learn an instrument.

It seems as though I am giving my views to members on e-mail and they do not come back to me and give me their views. They send them on to other members of the society, and seem to be stirring things up.

There are members out there that know what’s best, so please let them step up to the mark and nominate each other to get on to the committee and make their mark.

Also one of them could stand for Chairman as this position will be vacant by the next AGM.

Please forward all replies to the Committee.

Thank you.

Hi Mr Chairman

We are also getting fed up with the bitching and backbiting.  We have just had the AGM where the entire Committee was re-elected because no-one else was interested in taking any of the jobs on.  Perhaps we should all step down and let the whingers run it.

Regarding your letter, we would like to add the following:

On the matter of tradition, to this date there are no women in any of the Guards or Infantry Corps of Drums, so should we therefore exclude women from the Society?

Concert flutes are not played in any of the Corps of Drums, so we will have to exclude them as well

There is no tradition of bugle-only players in Corps of Drums – but they have been in the Rifles – buglers will have to go

No beards – beardies have to go

Regular army bands, who have traditionally been wind bands,  have now evolved, and we have an Army Big Band, also jazz bands, Calypso bands,  ensembles of stringed instruments.  The Society is not formed of re-enactors, but should move with the times and be prepared to welcome the bell lyre players and the buglers.

Given that eight Corps at least who were members of the Society have folded in the last 10 years, and given the decreasing number of active members, it is only right that we should involve the youngsters whether they play drums, flutes or bell lyres.

Your point about Lewes is correct – when Hastings folded, an individual (Mike Cheeseman) took it upon himself to raise a Corps for the Commercial Square part of the event – this might have been mistaken for a Society Corps, but it wasn’t one, and this was reinforced by the Committee decision of 2008.

It is sad that the HAC, whose number provided the founders of the Society, are not interested these days.

Regarding all the bleating and whining about the Society not doing much, we think your statement should include a reminder that they can do several things: turn up at meetings; stand for office at the next AGM; get the appropriate number of like minded whingers together and call an Extraordinary General Meeting and vote off the current Committee.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Chris and Geoff

Dear Peter and Committee

I know it is a very short time since the Show,but I thought I would make some comments while they are fresh in my mind.  As usual, the Show was very good: everyone enjoyed it and it looks good for the future.  I am in agreement with the bell lyres taking part next year.  I have some ideas as to how we can incorporate them, and will explain as I go along.

We all have ideas of marches we would like to play.  If we asked members to submit their suggestions for marches, we would get many answers.  I have therefore proposed a list, as we must take into consideration what we can all play well, especially with youngsters in mind.  We should bear in mind that at most they have only one practice a week in  which to learn and remember the tune.  For these reasons I propose the following:

1.   The Adjutant : a good 6/8 march, which everyone enjoys playing

2.   Prussian Glory : the bell lyres can join in at the trio – I will arrange a bell- lyre part

3.  The Retreat Marches (The Ash Gove, Flow Gently  Sweet Afton, Mandora) : these are pretty tunes and the Side Drummers can play the 4

????? retreat beatings : it has a good visual effect with sticklifting

4.  The Great Escape : easy to play for kids and they enjoy it – bell-lyres to  join in at the trio

5.  The Welsh Medley : easy for learners – long notes- also sounds strong

6.  The Londoner : this was a bit weak, but it will get better – and the crowd were singing along with us

7.  Euterpe : a good tune and a favourite – a catchy tune

8.  Killaloe : bell-lyres to play intro, then come in on the final phrase for the second time

9.  1914-18 Medley : the shortened Cinque Ports version: this is another selection which has the crowds singing along (will also be needed for 2014)

10. Galanthia : another 6/8 which everyone enjoys playing – also a good reaction from the public

11. San Lorenzo : this sounds better each year – bell-lyres could play the intro to the Trio

12. The Silver Trumpeter : this was played with success last year and is popular with the Society


We should get our bell-lyre Corps to send us their music.  I will then put it together and sort it out for them so that they are all playing the same thing.  I will arrabge the parts I have mentioned in my list, so that everyone is in the right key.  I am going to Andrew Clarke’s Corps early next year, so I can check and make sure they are all OK.


Would we cancel drum solos and play flutes – bugles – bell-lyres

My last point

A side-drummer from Whitgift turned up in HAC uniform at the last moment.  I think bands who don’t submit nominal rolls or individual notices to attend, should not be allowed on parade.  Some people can’t attend the rehearsal, but they should still submit their names.

My youngsters really enjoyed the parade and everyone made them feel welcome.  They are all new to us and the experience has given them encouragement to come back year after year.

Many thanks

Peter Foss