Drums, bugles and trumpets were originally used to deliver orders on the battlefield by sounding calls which the soldiers recognised. Drums, and later fifes, were also used to set the pace while on the march.
In the 19th Century an army “Class of Music” was formed to give guidance to the brass and woodwind bands which were being formed. The Inniskilling Fusiliers’ first bandmaster was a German, Herr Werner.
In the mid 19th century bagpipes were adopted by the Royal Tyrone Militia and Irish regiments followed. Official recognition was given in 1920 and the playing of fifes declined. The Inniskilling Fusiliers adopted the Brian Boru pipes because they had keys which gave the wider range of notes needed for Irish tunes.
Music became an integral role in the life of a regiment. Each regiment has its own marching tune which binds together both serving soldiers and old comrades in loyalty to the regiment.
The Regimental Band leads the regiment when it observes national occasions like the Sovereign’s Birthday or St Patrick’s Day. There are annual regimental days like St Lucia Day for the Inniskilling Fusiliers or Oates Day for the Inniskilling Dragoons when the regiment is on full parade to mark the anniversary of a significant event in the history of the regiment.
The Band will lead the regiment when it exercises its rights to parade through a town which has granted the regiment the Freedom of that town. Then there are the occasional great regimental ceremonials for the Presentation or Laying up of Colours and Standards. Regimental bands entertain the public at concerts and occasions like Tattoos and Beating of Retreat.
Bandsmen also fulfil another function as they are trained as first aiders and stretcher bearers.
The Inniskillings were the first to combine bagpipe and brass band music.