Along with drums, fifes were used to signal commands in battle and to call out the daily routine of 18th-century military camp life. Instructions included.
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In the 18th century pitch was not standardized as it is today. So the corps fifes are very sharp to a modern nominal Bb fife, although still called Bb. We call them "Old Pitch" fifes to distinguish them from "traditional fifes". Bb fifes are the most common fife in use today.