Welcome to
the forums at bobdunsire.com
bobdunsire.com forums bobdunsire.com forums
You can reset your password by going here. Be sure to try your current email and any email addresses you may have had in the past.
Otherwise please use the Contact Us link at the bottom of the forums. In order to help you, please provide the following info: Your Display Name from the old forum and any possible email addresses you would have used before. Without that info we cannot locate your account.

Go Back   Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums > Read Only Archive > Music Archive
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Music Archive Old threads from the Music Forum.

Platinum Sponsors
Thread Tools
Old 06-05-2003, 09:19 AM   #1
The Pipe Guy
Forum Clasp
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Rome, GA
Posts: 729
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?
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
The Pipe Guy is offline  
Gold Sponsor
Old 06-05-2003, 10:02 AM   #2
Richard Mao
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, USA
Posts: 3,724
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)


Life is too short… when you pipe down the street… wiggle that ass!
Peking Piper’s Prescription for Popularity

Richard Mao, The Peking Piper ( PekingPiper@mao.org )
Richard Mao is offline  
Old 06-05-2003, 07:47 PM   #3
Fhantom Piper
Forum Regular
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Maris Grove, Glen Mills, PA
Posts: 178
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...."
Frank P Elwood
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

We've got a real President now, one who can think as well as pronounce English properly! Let's wish him well for the next eight years.
Fhantom Piper is offline  
Old 06-05-2003, 09:20 PM   #4
Chairman Mao
Holy smoking keyboard!
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elora, Canada
Posts: 1,110
Default Re: Retreat

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

Chairman Mao is offline  
Old 06-06-2003, 12:16 AM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Auchnagatt, Scotland
Posts: 7,276
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.
It's not knowing the answers that is important.....It's knowing where to find the answers......
Wulls is offline  
Old 06-06-2003, 12:30 AM   #6
Stevie Wonder
Forum Regular
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Near Cologne, Germany
Posts: 140
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.

Teachers open the door... You enter by yourself. (Chinese Proverb)
An' if ye play as bad as me, ye bugger off back oot the door .... pronto!
Stevie Wonder is offline  
Old 06-06-2003, 04:38 AM   #7
Holy smoking keyboard!
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: London Town
Posts: 5,173
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.

CalumII is offline  
Old 06-06-2003, 06:19 AM   #8
Jürgen Rech
Forum Clasp
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Germany
Posts: 874
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.

Jürgen Rech www.highland-piper.de
Jürgen Rech is offline  
Old 06-06-2003, 08:22 AM   #9
Chairman Mao
Holy smoking keyboard!
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Elora, Canada
Posts: 1,110
Default Re: Retreat


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).

Chairman Mao is offline  
Old 06-06-2003, 11:12 AM   #10
Forum Regular
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: U.K.
Posts: 152
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"
KOSBSON is offline  
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Silver Sponsor

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:55 PM.