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Old 06-05-2003, 09:19 AM   #1
The Pipe Guy
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Default Retreat

Ok, a retreat is a 3/4 march. Is there a better definition or defining description. Is there a style or phrasing criteria? Can other time signatures be (ex. 9/8) be a retreat? What is the origin of the term?
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Old 06-05-2003, 10:02 AM   #2
Richard Mao
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Default Re: Retreat

"retreat" in the sense of retiring from the field... as the college band finishing at the end of half-time at a football game.

brisk but not panicked... orderly... not hell-bent-for-leather-drop-the-weapons-and-shag-out... (otherwise how can you keep track of your left/right feetsies in such an "odd" time signature?)

9/8 retreats? yeah... the one that comes to mind is Battle of the Somme.

I dunno how it got started as 3/4's = "retreat." hope you get more etiology/ethnology from our fellow posters...(probably a British army thingie, ya know)

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Old 06-05-2003, 07:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Retreat

Retreats are played at the flag lowering evening ceremonies by a British military band. Mostly the 3/4s have a lilt and swing that makes them pleasant to listen to - the whole idea is to calm the troops down at day's end, not get them all charged up. Our own General Patton sometimes described a retreat as "Advancing to the rear...."
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Old 06-05-2003, 09:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Retreat

Meeting of the Waters is a 4/4 retreat...

Scott
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Old 06-06-2003, 12:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: Retreat

Our DM who spent 30 years in the army informs me that a retreat is a swift, orderly relocation to a tactically safer position i.e. removing yourself as fast as possibile without running.
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Old 06-06-2003, 12:30 AM   #6
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Default Re: Retreat

We used the term tactical withdrawal in the Scottish Division. The word "Retreat" only existed in the (musical) vocabulary of our Pipe Band.



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Old 06-06-2003, 04:38 AM   #7
CalumII
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Default Re: Retreat

The word retreat often causes confusion. In its musical sense, it has nothing to do with any battlefield manouvre, rushed or otherwise.

Retreat is a ceremony, which used to take place daily to signal the end of the days work.

The retreat march (as it is more properly called) most commonly comes in a 3/4 or 9/8 flavour, although examples in other times exist, such as 4/4 and 6/4. Why, no-one really knows, but the most commonly advanced theories are that retreat was originally beaten by drummers to a 3/4 beating, and when pipers came along, they played 3/4 and 9/8 tunes to these beatings. The other theory is that a few early tunes that became very popular for retreats, such as the Green Hills, were in 3/4, and so that became the 'accepted' time signature.

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Old 06-06-2003, 06:19 AM   #8
Jürgen Rech
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Default Re: Retreat

there's one interesting point on the staff notation of retreats that seldom someone notices or cares:

most (nearly all?) 3/4 or 9/8 marches are written wrong! in all musical notation in all musical genres the (main) beat follows the bar line, every upward beat precedes the bar line - not so in the so called retreat marches. every bass drummer needs no instruction to do his first big "bumm" on green hills on beat no 2.

the only exceptions of this obviously wrong notation are for exemple in sg 1 the tunes "kilworth hills" and "loch maree". even the 4/4 march "meeting of the waters" is written in the wrong way i.e. down beat on 2 and 4, upbeat on 3 and 1.

jurgen
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Old 06-06-2003, 08:22 AM   #9
Chairman Mao
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Default Re: Retreat

Jurgen;

Yeah, that's an interesting one - the shifted barline in these tunes like Green Hills, definitely in Meeting of the Waters. I remember in my first band with M of the W, the pipe major telling us that "This tune actually starts on the left foot, so play it as such" creating a great deal of anxiety in the corps.

From what I have heard over the years, this little shifting of the beat was a manuever of the British, for reasons now forgotten by me, in their pipe corps. Now we all play Green Hills shifted so the pick up notes are landing on beat 1. Odd.

You can really sense how the up-beat shift works if you play Green Hills/Battle's O'er as a Minuet (move it to 2/2 time).

Scott
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Old 06-06-2003, 11:12 AM   #10
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Default Re: Retreat

I fully concur with Calum 11, the "Retreat" has absolutely nothing to do with the field of battle. It was simply a signal to the troops, wherever they might be or whatever they were engaged in, that the end of the working day had been reached. It is a corruption of the French word "Retraite" meaning a place of refuge or shelter.
The day began with "Reveille" and ended with the "Tattoo" which called the soldiers back (usually from the taverns!) to the last parade of the day, before "Lights Out"
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