The swasche, also spelled swesche, swasher, sueschoour, suescher, swash, suesche, and sivasche,[1][2] was a type of drum used in Scotland for various purposes, to call attention to an announcement or event, but also as an accompaniment to sports events and military formations.[3] It is perhaps of Swiss origin.[4]

Percussion instrument
Other namesSwesche, Swasher, Sueschoour, Suescher, Swash, Suesche, Sivasche
Classification percussion
Hornbostel–Sachs classification
Playing range
Deep sounds.
Related instruments


  1. ^ "The terms swasher, sueschoour, suescher and swash, suesche, and swesche, to mean drummer and drum respectively, are extracts from the records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, published by the Scottish Burgh Records Society covering the period 1528- 1571"—Ian Turnbull. "By Tuck of Drum" in World Military Bands, The Heritage of Military Bands, http://www.worldmilitarybands.com/[permanent dead link], n.d., accessed September 9, 2011.
  2. ^ "It is thought that the entries in the records of Jedburgh clearly show that sivasche, or swesche, is a drum, not merely an alarm drum, but applied to the common drum of the town, for in some entries the drummer and piper are ordered to go through the burgh morning and night, and in others the word swascher is used to denote the drummer. The two words are synonymous. It will also be observed from the text that the instrument used in Jedburgh was struck ("rap of the swasche"), not sounded or blown. Mr. Pitcairn hesitates as to the meaning of the word "swascher," but if swasche be a drum, swascher must be the person who used it. All the royal burghs seem to have kept a swascher for warning the inhabitants, and the city of Edinburgh two, who appear also to have performed the additional duty of attending upon the Parliament when it met in Edinburgh"—Alexander Jeffrey. 1857. The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire and Adjacent Districts from the Most Remote Period to the Present Time. London: J. F. Hope. Vol. II, p. 190.
  3. ^ "In 1566 [in Aberdeen, Scotland], John Cowper received a pension of six merks a-year "for his service to be done to the towne in tyme cumming in playing upon the swesche [drum] als weill in tyme of war as in tyme of peace and sport, and play"—Gavin Turreff. 1859. Antiquarian gleanings from Aberdeenshire records. Aberdeen: George & Robert King. p. 68.
  4. ^ "swesche (Swiss drum)..."—Agnes Strickland. 1852. Lives of the Queens of Scotland and English Princesses Connected with the Regal Succession of Great Britain. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers. Vol. III, p. 76.