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 American Civil War Re-enactor Musicians and Their Instrument

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Général Lawrence Sisco
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MessageSujet: American Civil War Re-enactor Musicians and Their Instrument   Mer 27 Aoû 2014 - 4:37

http://www.rickertmusicalinstruments.com/rickert-instruments-concepts/

American Civil War Re-enactor Musicians and Their Instruments

About Re-enacting

Recreating every detail of the military aspects of the American Civil War (early to mid 1860s) is more than just a pastime for many thousands of dedicated people known as “Re-enactors.” Re-enactments of encampments and major Civil War battles draw thousands of enthusiastic participants and spectators in U.S. States where the major action occurred, especially North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and to a somewhat lesser degree, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas and West Virginia. 
Meticulous attention to historical accuracy with respect to even the smallest details of uniforms, tools, personal accessories (such as eyeglass frames), weapons, music and so forth is very much a part of the culture of re-enacting.
Don Rickert Design has been a source of period instruments to re-enactors on a limited basis for several years. Our 1860s style cigar box fiddles and whiskey bottle box fiddles, pictured below, are quite popular among period music enthusiasts.
Click on thumbnail images for full-size views.

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I myself have witnessed many Civil War re-enactments and have even participated in a few many years ago.

Attention to Musical Detail

As with every of aspect of re-enacting, there is great attention given to the music that is played and the songs that are sung. For example, there are “Yankee” songs and tunes and there are “Rebel” songs and tunes, as well as songs that were popular with both sides in the Conflict, such as “Home, Sweet Home” (also quite popular in Japan, as curious as it may seem to a Westerner) and “Maryland, My Maryland” (the Union and Confederate versions had somewhat different lyrics)...Maryland, a Southern State, as officially part of the Union, despite the fact that the populace was divided in its allegiance.

Musical Instruments

There is also attention given to the historically correct basic instrument types that should be used, which include concertina, harmonica, penny whistle and fife, jaw harp, mandolin, dulcimer, bones and spoons as well as the historically essential fiddle, banjo and guitar. Among Irish regiment re-enactors, one will sometimes hear the uillean pipes (i.e. Irish pipes) and even small harps. One would never see or hear such an anachronistic instrument as, say, the saxophone.

Musical Instrument Authenticity

While the general instrument types used by musician re-enactors are pretty well-standardized, the specific models of instruments tend to be quite off the mark with respect to historical accuracy.

Banjos

For example, the modern Bluegrass banjo and even the open-back claw-hammer banjos often seen at re-enactments were not even invented until the 20th century.
A Bluegrass Banjo and an Old Time Open-Back Banjo (click on thumbnail images for full-size views)
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The banjos actually used during the Civil War would have been either a “tackhead” banjo or a fancy Minstrel banjo (the immediate precursor to the modern banjo) if the player had some money saved up. 

Authentic Reproductions of Civil War era Tackhead Banjos (click on thumbnail images for full-size views)

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Reproductions of Civil War Era Minstrel Banjos (click on thumbnail images for full-size views)

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Fiddles

Fiddles used during the Civil War would not have been fitted with either a chin rest or a shoulder rest (not invented yet), yet one sees both used by some re-enactors. The images below show an actual Civil War fiddle in the National Museum of Music and one of the finest Civil War re-enactor fiddlers on Earth, Troy Parker of the 1st NC Volunteers (we’ll allow him the indulgence of fine-tuners on his otherwise perfectly set-up fiddle and great skill in the period playing styles)
Click on the thumbnail images for full-size views.
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Cigar Box and Related Fiddles

Fiddles made from cigar boxes and other found objects were also used by Civil War soldiers. The genuine cigar box fiddles of the Civil War era would have been bare Spanish cedar, etched or imprinted with the cigar manufacturers name…not the boxes with pasted on artwork, which did not appear until the 1890s.
One of the few contemporary images of a cigar box fiddle being played

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Guitars and Mandolins

Perhaps the greatest deviations from historical reality are seen in the types of mandolins and guitars one sees in re-enactment encampments. One is much more likely to see A-type, F-type and flat iron style mandolins (all 20th Century inventions) than the historically correct “bowl back” (a.k.a. “tater bug”) mandolins. 

Mandolins

20th Century Mandolin Types (click on thumbnail images for full-size views)
     
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The Type of Mandolin Actually Played During the Civil War (click on thumbnail images for full-size views)

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Guitars

And then there are all of those Dreadnaught and jumbo-bodied guitars used by many re-enactors instead of the small-bodied guitars (similar to a parlor guitar) that were actually played by Civil War soldiers. The Dreadnaught and jumbo-bodied guitars are both 20th Century developments.

Actual Civil War Era Guitars (click on thumbnail images for full-size views)

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Modern Parlor Guitar that is Pretty Darn Close to the 1860s Guitars


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We will soon be re-establishing a special section within the Adventurous Muse Online Store dedicated to supplying 18th, 19th and early 20th century re-enactor musicians with reproductions of authentic period instruments and accessories.



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Général Lawrence Sisco
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MessageSujet: Re: American Civil War Re-enactor Musicians and Their Instrument   Mer 27 Aoû 2014 - 4:37

Cette guitare Martin de 1838 est vraiment superbe !


Guitar
Christian Frederick Martin 
(Markneukirchen, Saxony 1796–1873 Nazareth, Pennsylvania)
Date: ca. 1838
Geography: New York, New York, United States

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Medium: Wood, various materials
Dimensions: Total L.: 93.5 cm (36-7/8 in.); 
L. of fingerboard, nut to base: 43.4 cm (17-1/8 in.); 
W. of fingerboard at base: 2.8 cm (l.-1/8 in.); 
L. of body: 43.7 cm (17-1/4 in.); 
W. of body: upper bouts: 23 cm (9 in.), middle bouts: 17.6 cm (7 in.), lower bouts: 29.7 cm (11-3/4 in.); 
Max. D. of body: 8.3 cm (3-1/4 in.); 
vibrating L. of strings: 60.3 cm (23-3/4 in.); 
Diam. of soundhole: 7.7 cm (3 in.); 
L. of case: 96.2 cm (37-7/8 in.); 
D. of case: 11.6 cm (4-1/2 in.); 
W. of case (widest); 34.3 cm (13-1/2 in.)
Classification: Chordophone-Lute-plucked-fretted

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MessageSujet: Re: American Civil War Re-enactor Musicians and Their Instrument   Mer 27 Aoû 2014 - 4:38

The Irish, the Harp and Civil War

The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death ye will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" cried the warrior bard,
"Tho' all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

("The Minstrel Boy", known by anyone with even a drop of Irish blood in his or her veins, is an Irish patriotic song written by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) in remembrance of friends killed during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.)
The Harp is mentioned twice in first verse. The instrument has deep symbolic significance of every Irishman. There were Irish-only (not necessarily their own choice!) regiments on both sides of the American Civil War. Images of a Federal (Union) and Confederate battle flags, remarkably similar in design, are shown below. The old Irish Harp figures prominently in both.
The 28th Massachusetts (designated 4th Regiment Irish Brigade) Battle Flag (Federal)

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[size]
10th Tennessee Irish Infantry Brigade (Confederate)

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We have considered and are now reconsidering carrying arrying a number of small Celtic and Irish harps, ranging from about 2 lbs to 9 or 10 lbs at our Adventurous Muse online store. Some of these are pictured below. We will also sell weather-resistant period appropriate carrying bags.
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