Fanfare band

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Fanfare Bands, Fanfare Corps, Fanfare Battery or Trumpet and Drum Bands (the German Fanfarenzug and Fanfarenkorps and the French Batterie-Fanfares and Fanfares d'cavallerie) are musical ensembles composed of percussion instruments, bugles, natural horns and natural trumpets which are common in Germany and France. Fanfare bands are the descendants of the old medieval trumpet and drum teams that sounded fanfares on important occasions and are related to drum and bugle corps.

Introduction and History[edit]

Fanfare Bands are a unique type of marching and military band that plays for entertainment, public occasions and gatherings as well as competing in various competitions. They evolved from the medieval ensembles of trumpets and drums, and in the ensembles of trumpets and timpani, common in mounted bands in the cavalry.

Many times in history, these ensembles sounded the trumpets, drums and kettledrums in various military and civil events. Beginning in the late Middle Ages trumpets and drums (usually snares and tenors) sounded fanfares in more important holidays, were timekeepers on various towns, and announced various events. In mounted bands since the 12th century timpani and trumpets or bugles played in important occasions as well as, from the middle of the 15th century, assist the cavalry in battle as well as on parade.

The modern day fanfare bands began in the 19th century in Germany and in France. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Band of the Republican Guard began developing its own fanfare and bugle section under its director Gabriel Defrance, thus the band and bugles of the service are the predecessors of today's ensembles. French civil fanfare bands would begin in that similar style and fashion in the early 20th century and so too are their governing bodies. The modern day ensemble would be born in 1935 as the Band and Bugles of the French Air Force under Claude Laty, the then director of music, who created the modern day fanfare band and its standard instrumentation as the band created its own fanfare and bugle section with then drum major Maurice Bonnard. The oldest and still playing Fanfare Band / Orchestra in the world was founded in Belgium in 1806 at Izegem and is currently known under Koninklijke Stadsfanfaren Izegem ( [1] In Germany their use was reduced to civilian bands from the late 18th century onward although the fanfare trumpets stayed in military bands till today. These civil bands form the basis of today's ensembles. In the late 20th century even the use of the shoulder strap and the introduction of valved bugles and multiple tenor drums from the US revolutionized the ensembles and the instruments they use. Today several ensembles use brass instruments in addition to the standard instrumentation as well as the multiple tenor drum.


Fanfare bands composed of either single or multiple tenor drums, snare drums, natural horns, natural trumpets and bugles. Bass drums, cymbals, glockenspiels and timpani are sometimes added or are also permanent parts of the band instrumentation. The group is usually led by either a drum major or bugle major that coordinates the timing and speed of the music being played. Only several bands in Germany add the turkish crescent as part of the ensemble.

Fanfare bands are sometimes paired with other marching musical ensembles of varying instrumentation or combined with a corps of drums composed of fifes, flutes, bugles, fanfare trumpets and percussion to form a type of massed field music unit and in several cases also paired up with brasses and woodwinds. They may also exist as a sub-unit of any of these ensembles.

Mounted Fanfare Bands[edit]

These bands are made up of Brass instruments, timpani when mounted and marching percussion when dismounted, glockenspiels, fanfare trumpets, cors de chasse and natural horns. These bands are meant for the cavalry, and only a few bands exist today of this formation in France and Argentina with few such bands in Germany only performing as dismounted brass bands. However a revival of the practice is underway in Lower Saxony, Germany. A newly founded brass band, the Helddragoner Brass Band, aiming to honor the legacy and traditions of the 16th (2nd Hannover) Dragoon Regiment of the Imperial German Army, got its horses and its very own drum horse in 2013 and when the training will be finished will become Germany's first ever military styled civilian mounted band in years.


  1. ^ Template:'200 jaar Koninklijke Stadsfanfaren Izegem ' is written by the historian Dr. Jean-Marie Lermyte for Heemkundige Kring 'Ten Mandere'

See also[edit]