Shall we play for him?
On Saturday, December 5, 2020 our band was back participating at the Flowers Plantation Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, a tradition we have been a part of going on 10 years. Due to the chaos of what was 2020, this was our first and last parade for 2020 and we wanted to do something different -- and came together to learn a new tune...The Little Drummer Boy.
Music was arranged, lesson materials gathered and Zoom sessions commenced to get the tune under our hands; we had to make sure uniforms fit too (we haven't worn them all year. 10 drummers drumming led the procession of Santa's sleigh (a 1910 model 17 Buick driven by the legend, Thomas Fitzgerald*) as 18 pipers piping followed in a stoic saunter.
"I'm so humbled by this. This should be a lesson to the entire band of what it means to collaborate for the good of all," said band member Alan Armstrong who arranged this bagpipe setting for the band. "Not a single element was more important than the others - no one was indispensable".
A video of the procession was recorded by the mom of a band member and shared on social media by Alan Armstrong. As of 23 DEC 2020, the video has been viewed 1.3 million times and has been shared around the globe. So much love and so many amazing comments and questions continue to pour in and we are so grateful our gift of music has provided some joy this Christmas season.
As a result of the popularity of this performance, a number of bagpipers and drummers from around the globe have asked about our arrangement -- and if we could make it available. While the tune was written by American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941 (history below) our arrangements were penned by Alan Armstrong and our friend, Tom Foote, and we are making them available for any and all who want to learn the tune or have their pipe band perform it (images below).
Additional learning materials can be found on our Google Drive @ https://bit.ly/3nJxRwY.
* Sadly, Santa's driver -- Tommy Fitzgerald passed away a few days after this event. So, to honor him we played for him at his memorial service. "FYI if you see me at Parrish Funeral Home anytime soon, just know that I had a really great life, and enjoyed every minute of it," said Tommy Fitzgerald in a 2019 Facebook post. Semper Fi Tommy.
Thank you again to our band members who grabbed hold to make the moment. To all of our fellow bagpipers and drummers around the world, find a purpose to play.
From Wikipedia: "The Little Drummer Boy" (originally known as "Carol of the Drum") is a popular Christmas song written by the American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. First recorded in 1951 by the Trapp Family Singers, the song was further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale; the Simeone version was re-released successfully for several years and the song has been recorded many times since. In the lyrics, the singer relates how, as a poor young boy, he was summoned by the Magi to the Nativity of Jesus. Without a gift for the Infant, the little drummer boy played his drum with approval from Jesus's mother, Mary, recalling, "I played my best for him" and "He smiled at me".
The song was originally titled "Carol of the Drum" and was published by Davis, subtitled "Czech carol freely transcribed by C.R.W. Robertson". While speculation has been made that the song is very loosely based on "Hajej, nynjej", the chair of the music department at Davis's alma mater Wellesley College claims otherwise. In an interview with Music Department Chair Claire Fontijn, the College writes:
Inspiration for “The Little Drummer Boy” came to Davis in 1941. “[One day], when she was trying to take a nap, she was obsessed with this song that came into her head and it was supposed to have been inspired by a French song, ‘Patapan,’” explained Fontijn. “And then ‘patapan’ translated in her mind to ‘pa-rum-pum-pum,’ and it took on a rhythm.” The result was “The Little Drummer Boy.”
Video provided from Alan Armstrong's Facebook page. Tell your mom "thanks" Lindsey.