French regimental music was divided into two sections: the Band and the Corps of Drums. Under the Chef de Musique (Bandmaster) the Tambour Major (Drum Major) led the Drums and the Band, while the Tambour Maître (Sergeant Drummer) was responsible for the discipline of the Drums, which he led on those occasions when this section paraded alone. Both the Drum Major and the Sergeant Drummer carried a mace or baton.

Imperial Guard Regimental Sappers

On the march, the Drum Major led the Corps of Drums (on the left flank of which marched the Sergeant Drummer) and the Regimental Sappers, followed by the Band. On parade, the Band took the position on the right of the Regiment.

Imperial Guard Corps of Drums

Until the regulations of 1812 fixed the uniform as green with ‘Imperial Livery’ lace, the dress of the musicians was extremely fanciful, often bearing no relationship to the rest of the regiment, especially in the infantry. The Cavalry, with surprisingly more restraint, used the dress of the trumpeters, sometimes with a change of headdress to a bicorne hat, busby or fur bonnet.

The dark blue worn by the French Army of this period was not quite as dark as the British army blue, while the brass used was of a distinctly coppery tinge.

Imperial Guard Band

The line regiments maintained a band composed of specially engaged musicians, the numbers of which were fixed by regulation at seven, plus the Bandmaster, but this figure was exceeded by the Corps in a quite remarkable fashion (up to as many as 40 musicians, but on average 20).

The band was formed in three ranks: the first comprised the ‘Turkish’ style percussion: Jingling Johnnie, bass drum, side drum, cymbals and triangle; the second rank the woodwinds: clarinets, flutes, oboes and bassoons; while in the third rank was the ‘brass’: serpents, trombones and horns.

Completing the Head of Column comes the Bandmaster. He had the rank of Sergeant Major, with the same uniform as the musicians, plus two gold lace stripes diagonally above each cuff.

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