21st Grey Coat Batallion Fife and Drum Corps, Basel, Switzerland

The 21st Grey Coat Batallion Fife and Drum Corps, in short, the “Grey Coats”, is one of four fife and drum corps of this nature located in Basel, Switzerland. It was founded in 2000, just before the beginning of the 21st century when a few ambitious young people decided to take up the fife and drum tradition with the following goals in mind: on the one hand, the new corps should continue the ancient style as it is practiced in New England, but on the other, create a contrast to the existing Swiss corps. After only one year of hard work the corps was born, and the first public appearance was dared with only eight members! Since then, the group can stack up the lines, and it currently counts fourteen fifers, five drummers, three bass drummers, and a drum major. The members are between the ages of 20 and 45 and all have grown up with the local Fasnacht tradition. Some of the drummers have also been part of the successful Top Secret Drum Corps.

The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps joint performances with the Grey Coats Batallion Fife and Drum Corps

The Grey Coats Fife and Drum Corps together with the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps share a very special relationship, forged through joint performances in both the USA and in Europe. They have performed together in the Courtyard of the Pentagon, in front of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and also the Old Guard performed at the Basel Tattoo in Switzerland. As a result, the relationship amongst the members of both corps has grown into a great friendship. Members of the Old Guard have even supported the Grey Coats in their free time to perform at the Norwegian Military Tattoo in Oslo, Norway, and the Delft Taptoe in the Netherlands.

New US-Branch: 22nd Grey Coat Batallion Fife and Drum Corps, Washington D.C., USA

After more than 20 years since the inception of the Grey Coats in Switzerland there is now a sister corps in the USA: The 22nd Grey Coats Batallion Fife and Drum Corps, Washington D.C., USA. Active and former members of the Old Guard have formed this new corps. They are performing both on their own in the USA as well as internationally. Whenever the Swiss Grey Coats Batallion can support the US Grey Coats Batallion they will do so, and vice versa.

Music and Show

The Grey Coats present themselves with an exciting show featuring skillful precision marching as well as artistic visual elements in the drum section.
Our repertoire consists of an extensive list of traditional folk tunes, new compilations and arrangements, as well as original literature. The traditional jigs, reels, and hornpipes originate in the British Isles and were used – together with the drumming – as military music during the Colonial Campaign and the American Civil War. Nowadays, when played in nightlong sessions they have found their way back to their original purpose as folk tunes. Arrangements, medleys, and original drum parts come from various sources, be it from other corps or independent writers and arrangers.

Instruments and Uniforms

The fifers play a 10-hole Blackwood fife in B-flat, manufactured by Skip Healy, of the Healy Fife Company. The snare and bass drummers play wooden rope-tensioned drums with calfskin heads by Cooperman.

Our uniforms, the “Grey Coat”, approximate the style of uniform worn during the US Colonial Campaign.