The Hated Musicians and the “Upidee Song”

Claude Bauer

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
"No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.
"
--from Bivouac Of The Dead

While music played an important role in the lives of soldiers, field music, which regulated life in the camps, was regarded by many with same level of affection as an annoying alarm clock.

Those who've been at reenactments where the drums start pounding outside your tent at dawn and fife and bugle calls pierce the air seemingly minutes after you've finally fallen asleep, have some idea of what the real soldiers had to put with on a daily basis, not just for a weekend, but day after day for years on end.

"The omnipresent and ferocious sound of fifes, drums and bugles was an indisputable separator between the civilian and soldier worlds..." serving as a constant reminder of the soldier's difficult and demanding life. Reveille, drill call, fatigue call, this call, that call, all day long. “If you had to be drummed out to the notes of that infernal drum three or ten times a day, according as it happens, you would growl, I know, when you heard it beat,” groused Colonel Mason Tyler Whiting of Massachusetts.

Such was the disdain for field musicians that they received the questionable honor of having a song written about them. The “Upidee Song” presented a sadistic bugler who took great delight in tormenting his colleagues: “He saw, as in their bunks they lay,/ Tra la la! Tra la la!/How soldiers spent the dawning day./Tra la la la la/‘There’s too much comfort there,’ said he, ‘And so I’ll blow the ‘Reveille.’



And I used to wonder why there weren't more monuments to field musicians.

 
Last edited:

19thOhio

Private
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
I enjoyed the video. The slide at 2:37 shows several bugle types including one with padded holes for lack of any other term and a box of various mouth pieces. I am curious of the pro/cons, of the various bugles and mouth pieces. Would they have various pitches or keys for certain conditions or uses?

And the one on the horse . . . would they blow the bugle while riding?

Thanks for posting.
 

Claude Bauer

Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Jan 8, 2012
I enjoyed the video. The slide at 2:37 shows several bugle types including one with padded holes for lack of any other term and a box of various mouth pieces. I am curious of the pro/cons, of the various bugles and mouth pieces. Would they have various pitches or keys for certain conditions or uses?

And the one on the horse . . . would they blow the bugle while riding?

Thanks for posting.

I believe the picture you're referring to is at 0:13--that's Jari who leads the Federal City Brass Band. I posted a link to this thread on Facebook, and he shared it to his page, Civil War Bugler: https://www.facebook.com/CWBugler/

I know nothing about bugles, so you should post your questions on his Facebook page, and I'm sure he'll be glad to answer!
 

Mrs. V

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 5, 2017
"No braying horn or screaming fife
At dawn shall call to arms.
"
--from Bivouac Of The Dead

While music played an important role in the lives of soldiers, field music, which regulated life in the camps, was regarded by many with same level of affection as an annoying alarm clock.

Those who've been at reenactments where the drums start pounding outside your tent at dawn and fife and bugle calls pierce the air seemingly minutes after you've finally fallen asleep, have some idea of what the real soldiers had to put with on a daily basis, not just for a weekend, but day after day for years on end.

"The omnipresent and ferocious sound of fifes, drums and bugles was an indisputable separator between the civilian and soldier worlds..." serving as a constant reminder of the soldier's difficult and demanding life. Reveille, drill call, fatigue call, this call, that call, all day long. “If you had to be drummed out to the notes of that infernal drum three or ten times a day, according as it happens, you would growl, I know, when you heard it beat,” groused Colonel Mason Tyler Whiting of Massachusetts.

Such was the disdain for field musicians that they received the questionable honor of having a song written about them. The “Upidee Song” presented a sadistic bugler who took great delight in tormenting his colleagues: “He saw, as in their bunks they lay,/ Tra la la! Tra la la!/How soldiers spent the dawning day./Tra la la la la/‘There’s too much comfort there,’ said he, ‘And so I’ll blow the ‘Reveille.’



And I used to wonder why there weren't more monuments to field musicians.

Oh my gosh! I looove it. Now I need the musical notes and the lyrics! How much fun would this be to sing in an encampment??
 
Top