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Music in the Danish – Norwegian army

The music played is from the 17th century to the early 20th century, as contemporary as possible. The military music is mainly from Den Kongelige Livgardes Tambourkorps in Copenhagen’s music archives. Leading regimental drummer and -pfifers learned signals and marches at the Livgarden in Copenhagen. Then they passed their knowledge on to the military musicians in the companies. This is the way it originally was performed – before Norway’s union with Sweden in 1814. In 1996, Tambourafdelingen resumed a military music tradition that had been dead for almost 200 years.

The traditional instruments for the infantry were drums and flutes. The artillery and cavalry used drums, timpani and bugles. Several of the drum and flute signals have an independent function, examples of which are Revelje (Reveille signal), Vergatterung (assembly signal) and Tappenstrek (tattoo signal) which are understandable without the soldier hearing the command that accompanies them. The piber played together with the tambour during marching, maneuvering, certain signals and ceremonials. The sound of the drums carries hundreds of meters – up to kilometers when they are gathered. When used in battle, together with the piber, they were a powerful tool as moral support for the soldiers.

Tambour playing is an old tradition

The instruments give the characteristics of the music. Due to the dimensions of the drum, a separate playing technique is required. Drum signals and slåttespilling are characterized by “open” swirls, continuously underlying sound with melodic markings, extended volume and deep bass tones. The playing style and melody have been compared to playing the Harding fiddle and have a natural place in Norwegian folk music. Our folk music is represented in Trommeslåtter by Johannes Sundvor (1871-1941) who in the years 1915-1935 traveled around the west country and collected these works which were later edited and published by Carl Haakon Waadeland in the notebook Trommeslåtter – en trommeslagers skattekiste (Tima Publisher 1991).

For a number of years, our leading regimental drummer has carried out research of historical drumming, and came across music the unit now uses. Tambourafdelingen collaborates with other military music history groups such as Stavern Forts Tambourer and Fladstrand’s Tambourer in Frederikshavn, Denmark. We exchange music when we meet at our joint music seminars. We also play more recent music, but the performance is in the traditional way. We have music arranged to us by musician, conductor and arranger Geir Holm. We also play music that researcher of historical drumming, former timpanist in the Gothenburg Opera Bjørn Bang has written for us and other musicians. Since the start in 1996, Tambourafdelingen has used instructors such as: Rune Martinsen, Rune Halvorsen, Birger Mistereggen, Bjørn Bang (drummers), Hans Olav Gorset (pfifers), Arne Kvalø (bugles) and Geir Holm (collective music).

All our music is availible on either Spotify or Youtube. Follow the links to listen.

CD1 booklet – Med musikk gjennom historien! Vol. I 1999

CD 2 booklet – Med musikk gjennom historien! Vol. II 2009

Watch it below or download the PDF: here


CD 3 booklet – Med musikk gjennom historien! Vol. III 2019

Watch it below or download the PDF: here


CD4 booklet – Med musikk gjennom historien! Vol. IV 2029

1704 Kongen Kommer!
24.-26. Mai 2024