Oregon Fife and Drum Corps

"Dedicated to preserving ancient field music."

The Oregon Fife and Drum Corps (OFDC) is one of the premiere fife and drum corps in the United States. They participate in many events each year, performing at Civil War period events and also for modern engagements such as the Portland waterfront fireworks on the 4th of July. Their favorite events are parades and they often steal the show. Every year they play at the Salem Pioneer Cemetery (Cityview Cemetery) over the Memorial Day weekend. They often collaborate with the Washington Fife and Drum Corps and occasionally travel to California parades and events. They were even invited to perform at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

  • The OFDC includes musicians of all levels, though they must be at least 12 years old to go onto the battlefield at reenactments. Though a background with music is very helpful it is not required.
  • These musicians memorize their music since they cannot carry it with them on the march. They are given a basic group of songs to begin with and expand their repertoire with time. This is easier than it may seem!
  • Drummers use the traditional grip (left hand palm up) and play rope-tension drums. Fifes have only six open holes rather than the modern keys on a flute. Other than those differences, Civil War instruments are very similar to their modern counterparts.
  • Musicians are the time-keepers of the army. They wake the soldiers up and tell them when to eat, drill, break camp and when to go to sleep again. They also keep morale up by playing on long marches. Many soldiers find that their load feels lighter and their marches shorter because they enjoy the music so much. One of the 116th's favorite traditions is to march into the sally port at Fort Stevens and wait while the OFDC plays its loudest.

Contact our Chief Musician, Sgt. Beth "Ben" Miller, for more information.

 

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