What to do in summer > Sports and leisure > Natural world > The Educational Trails > Heritage Trails > Historical Path in Saint-Jean > Post 21. Fresco of Fife and Drums

Post 21. Fresco of Fife and Drums

This fresco is a copy of a panel announcing the 1984 festival, which inaugurated new costumes and a new flag. It was designed by Martial M. then president of the “Société des Fifres & Tambours“ “La Gougra” and was carried out by Gilbert S. The Gougra is the river that runs between the Moiry glacier and joins the Navisence, near the village of Saint-Jean.

Map of St-Jean

This “ Société “, created in 1954, reflects the soul of Saint- Jean. It has its place in the history of the village. In 2013, the company had more than forty members, men and women. Many young people beginning at the age of eight, are in training.

The drum is one of the oldest musical instruments known to the Val d’Anniviers. It was later accompanied by the fife, and became a part of community work in the vineyards.
In March or April, during the work of Lent, the workers left the villages of Muraz, Villa, Zarvettaz, and Noës to form a procession to the sound of the drum, with the communal banner in the lead, as they made their way to the vineyards. The drum also sounded the rhythm at major processions and was used to announce an event, underlining the importance and solemnity of the information announced. This type of music has its roots in the army, in the many conflicts that marked the end of the Middle Ages. Fifes and drums became an important component of the federal army corps during the fifteenth century. Over the following centuries, many Valaisans engaged themselves as mercenaries with various foreign regiments. Once back home, many of them adopted these instruments.

Listen to Henri B., co-founder of the Association: “Originally, there was a single drum, Joseph E., who beat the drum alone, on the occasion of the feast of Corpus Christi or for the day of the patron saint. He learned to play the drum during the mobilisation of 1914 - 1918. It was fun to hear him play. Suddenly, two men from Saint-Jean, including my brother Vital, went to learn to play the fife in Mission with the father of Elie T. (...)

At 12, I played during the work in the vineyards in Sierre for the first time. This was unusual. But in the regulations of the Bourgeoisie, it is said that if the father died, the last male child in the family could be recognized by the bourgeoisie at the age of 12. (...) Albert S. and Robert V. who played the drum in the military went to play the drum in the valley of the Rhone. Then we started to train the fife players. René C. Seraphin M., Victor P., Michel A., Philibert R., Edgar S., Robert S., my brother Albert, and I, had the idea to launch the Association that we founded in 1954 “.

Today, the music of the fife and drum band of “La Gougra” is inseparable both from the Corpus Christi and the feast day of Saint-Jean, celebrated on August 29, in the chapel of Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

 

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Our heads filled with music, we head to the chapel.