In Flanders Fields


Lyrics: John MacCrae (1915)

Music: Elizabeth DiPietri (2005)



            As another example of music arranged in the 1-3-5 tuning, we are pleased to offer here a new composition based upon one of the favorite and best-known poems of the western world, In Flanders Fields.


            The poet was Lieutenant Colonel John MacCrae, a surgeon in the Canadian Army during the Second Battle of Ypres (Belgium) during WW I, in May, 1915. His brief verses are an eloquent summary of the utter futility of war, of life in the midst of death, of dedication and sacrifice and of hope for a better tomorrow. So popular are his words that they serve as a reminder to all generations. The full details of the author’s life and the origins of the poem are given in many references. Three such examples appear below, as links on the Internet.


            The composer of this arrangement is Elizabeth DiPietri, a dulcimer player from St. Louis MO, a refinisher of fine furniture, an artisan of beadworking, and the proud mother of a Marine son. She has dedicated this music selflessly to the honor and remembrance of all servicemen and veterans, with grateful thanks.


     Asked about her musical interpretation of the lyrics, Elizabeth had this to say. “My husband said that it needed more minor chords in it; that the poem was sad, and should sound sad. But I don’t think of it that way…yes, there is sorrow, but there is so much more! There is courage, there is pride, there is nobility, there is humbleness, there is challenge. They (the words) are not saying, ‘Oh, woe is me - be sad - we’re dead’. They are saying, ‘We have paid the ultimate price - don’t let it have been in vain – it’s up to you now.’ That’s what I tried to convey in the music, slow, quiet, dignified and not totally sad.”


We think you will all agree that Elizabeth accomplished what she set out to do.



            Note that this arrangement is in the key of A and requires the frequent use of the 1+ fret. Players will need to install a temporary 1+ fret if their instruments do not already have one.


            The first arrangement of In Flanders Fields shown here is intended for strumming with a flatpick. It will introduce the melody, the tempo and the chordal harmony of the music. Elizabeth has also arranged a somewhat more ornamented version of the song, for finger picking.  


We plan to post the second arrangement at a later date*. (see below)

Links to Elizabeth DiPietri's 1-3-5 mountain dulcimer arrangements for "In Flanders Fields":



Revised and new files posted on March 24, 2006


 In Flanders Fields S - PDF

In Flanders Fields S with Taps - MIDI


 In Flanders Fields S - TablEdit file





                *Note:   The “later date” has now arrived.  Previous visitors to this site should be aware that the initial, strummed version of In Flanders Fields, will hence be designated in files as the “S” version. The newer, fingerpicked version will be designated as the “FP” version. Here, the melody remains unchanged, but the accompaniment consists of a series of “arpeggiated” notes played in rapid succession, rather than as three- note chords played simultaneously.  Readers may hear the difference by listening to the MIDI files for each arrangement.


Another feature of both sound files that has changed is the addition of the music for “Taps”, the military bugle call played in the USA at all memorial services for fallen veterans. This addition seemed appropriate to us, to follow the playing of In Flanders Fields. The playing of Taps is optional, of course. For those of you who wish to play it, the pdf music/notation appears below as a separate file. We hope you find these arrangements consoling and expressive, and would sincerely welcome your comments.




 In Flanders Fields FP - PDF


 In Flanders Fields FP with Taps - MIDI


 In Flanders Fields FP - TablEdit file


Taps in D.pdf


Taps in D.MID


Taps Performance Guidelines.pdf 

(found on the excellent TapsBugler site below)




  Merv Rowley




  Ruth Randle






  Gail West






This website is brought to you by Merv Rowley, Ruth Randle, Elizabeth DiPietri, and Gail West
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