In the olden days Hawick, like most towns, had a piper and a drummer. For many years these two on their own played the music at the Common Riding. Over the years the piper was replaced by a fifer. A fifer is first mentioned in the town records in 1797. The next year he was regarded as a burgh official. Shoes for the fifer were bought at a cost of seven shillings. Also, along with the drummer and the Halberdier, he was given the usual Common-Riding payment of a shilling. This is still paid to the Halberdier today on the night of the Cornet's election when the band play "Dumbarton Drums" if they must walk north from the Town Hall to get to the Cornet Elect's house or Rumbling Brig if they must turn south to reach it. From this beginning the Drum and Fife Band developed.
Walter Ballantyne, a famous drummer in the Band is mentioned in the "Border Queen". Better known as "Wat the Drummer", he joined the band in 1823 and served in it till his death 1881. His nephew Andrew Ballantyne served in the band from 1853 until 1927, a remarkable seventy-five Common-Ridings. At the Common-Riding in 1902 he was presented with a purse of money and an inscribed walking-stick (below) from his Common-Riding friends in recognition of his fifty years valuable service with the band. His grand nephew Andrew Ballantyne Anderson continued the Ballantyne Association with the band and the Common-Riding from 1881 until 1946. The Ballantyne tradition was resumed in 1978 until the present day, when a great, great, great grand nephew joined.
The band which is also known as the Cornet's Band has the honour of marching immediately in front of the Cornet in all ceremonial marches at the Common-Riding. However, it was once suggested that the Saxhorn Band should have this position on the return from the Moor. When Wat the Drummer heard about this he insisted that "a brass band tae plae in front o' the Cornet wad never dae. Yon's nae music for horses". The Drums and Fifes kept their place and have become one of the most important parts of the Common-Riding.
The routes used by the band and the tunes played are kept the same from year to year. On the Thursday evening at the first stroke of 6 pm on St Mary's clock, the band starts from the Kirk Wynd and proceeds up to the Toll in the Loan. From the Toll they march down the Loan, Drumlanrig Square, Howegate, round by Sandbed and along Buccleuch Street to the Grapes Inn Close. They play "Teribus" over the whole route.
Later, starting from the Sandbed, they proceed via Silver Street along the High Street, up O'Connell Street to Brougham Place, where they stop for the traditional refreshment of rum and milk. Finally, starting at Oliver Place, they proceed round Croft Road, Teviot Crescent and up Walter's Wynd, again playing "Teribus". This ends the first round of the old Tolls.
Wat the Drummer once grew annoyed at the suggestion of a young member of the band. His idea was that another tune should be played as well as "Teribus" for variety. Wat is supposed to have said, "if ee was tae plae ony other tune but 'Teribus', the toon o' Hawick wad rise, for it wadna stand it."
At the Colour Bussing the Drum and Fife Band play the magistrates and the Colour into the hall and after the ceremony the Cornet, the Right and Left-Hand Men and magistrates are played out of the hall followed by the Maids of Honour, all to the strains of "Teribus". On the Cornet's Walk starting at the Town Hall, the Hawick Saxhorn Band play to the Horse Memorial where the Cornet ties ribbons on the staff of the statue.
From the Horse the Drum and Fife Band plays "Dumbarton Drums" after which the two bands play alternately as they march by North Bridge Street to Princes Street. The next tune for the Drums and Fifes is "Rumblin' Brig" when they go via Sandbed, Buccleuch Street to Grapes Inn Close where they turn back to march up the Howegate and Loan to the Toll playing "Hazeldean" and "Pawkie Paiterson". On the return march "Rumblin' Brig" is played although at the Town Hall the Cornet and followers are played into the Hail to the strains of "Teribus" at approximately 9 p.m.
On Friday morning at the first stroke of 6 am, the Drums and Fifes accompanied by the Halberdiers march round the Old Town to awaken the people. They follow the same route as the Thursday evening. "Teribus" is played over the whole route. When the band passes the site of 'The Auld Brig' at the top of Silver Street the strange ceremony of the "Snuffin'" takes place. Returning to Kirk Wynd the bandsmen receive their refreshment of rum and milk. At the first stroke of 7am they proceed from Kirk Wynd up the Loan to the Toll playing "Dumbarton Drums" which is also played on the return to the Horse Memorial.
At 7.30am the Band makes its way back to Kirk Wynd and proceeds from there round Drumlanrig Square fountain (the Auld Mid Raw) down the Howegate to the Tower playing "Jock Patterson's Mare Rides Foremost".
After the Cornet's Breakfast, where the bandsmen join the Cornet's guests, and the singing of the Old Song, the band again forms up to join in the procession. The band follows the Lasses' car to the Haugh Bridge playing "Dumbarton Drums". At the end of Commercial Road "Teribus" is played until all the riders have gone past. The bandsmen are taken by bus to rejoin the procession along the High Street where "Rumblin' Brig" is played. "Dumbarton Drums", "Hazeldean" and "Pawkie Paiterson" are played during the march up the Loan to Thorterdykes. Here "Teribus" is played. Finally "Jockey to the Fair" is played before the Chase.
On their return from the Moor and the Coble Pool the Cornet and the supporters are met by the Band at Drumlanrig Square. The Band leads them to Millpath via the High Street and Cross Wynd playing "Rumblin' Brig". The Cornet dismounts and "Teribus" is played as he walks down Millpath to the Song Singing. After the proclamation is read the band leads the company to the Town Hall playing "Rumblin' Brig". "Teribus" is played at the Town Hall until the Cornet and supporters enter.
When the Cornet displays the Colour the band play "Teribus" twice through. On emerging from the Town Hall the Cornet is played to the Tower to the tune of "Rumblin Brig".
On the Saturday the band meet at the West Port at 7.45 am. At the first stroke of 8 am. on St Mary's clock, they proceed down the Loan and along the High Street to the Horse to the tune of "Dumbarton Drums" after which they have breakfast.
Meeting at 9.45 am. the Band wait for the Cornet at the Horse and march in the procession playing "Dumbarton Drums", "Rumblin' Brig", "Hazeldean" and "Pawkie Paiterson". At Drumlanrig Place "Teribus" is played until all the riders have gone past.
On the return from the Moor the band meets the Cornet at the top of the Loan. "The Girl I Left Behind Me" and "Cock of the North" are played to Drumlanrig Square where they change to "Rumblin' Brig". At the Town Hall "Teribus" is played until the Cornet enters. When he emerges with the Colour "Teribus" is played twice through. The Saxhorn Band then plays "Invocation".
The Cornet is played to Drumlanrig Tower to the tune "Rumblin' Brig". The four Principals are carried on the supporters' shoulders.
The Cornet, Right- and Left-Hand Men, Acting Father, the Lasses and Acting Mother then dance the Bull Reel to the tunes "Stumpy" and "Kate Dalrymple". This ends the duties of the Band for the Common-Riding.
The Common Riding
Dear relic of the days of yore
Of deeds of hardy valour done
Thy folds are floating as before
Beneath the summer sun.
Old trophy, much was daied and done
To wrest thee from the foemans hand
And nobly, bravely wert thou won
By that determined band.