Military band

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A military band (French Foreign Legion).

A military band originally was a group of personnel that performs musical duties for military functions, usually for the armed forces. A typical military band consists mostly of wind and percussion instruments. The conductor of a band commonly bears the title of Bandmaster or Director of Music. Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching band in the world, dating from the 13th century.[1]

The military band should be capable of playing ceremonial and marching music, including the national anthems and patriotic songs of not only their own nation but others as well, both while stationary and as a marching band. Military bands also play a part in military funeral ceremonies.

There are two types of historical traditions in military bands. The first is military field music. This type of music includes bugles (or other natural instruments such as natural trumpets or natural horns), bagpipes, or fifes and almost always drums (see military drums). This type of music was used to control troops on the battlefield as well as for entertainment. Following the development of instruments such as the keyed trumpet or the saxhorn family of brass instruments, a second tradition of the brass and woodwind military band was formed.

Currently, the largest military band in the world is the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band of Texas A&M University in the United States, with 423 members, including three drum majors, as of 2013.

History[edit]

A miniature of Ottoman Military Band, 1720

11th century book Divânu Lügati't-Türk mentions prototype of Mehtaran, Turkish military band tradition.[2] Bands were formed by soldiers. [3] [4] 17th century traveler Evliya Çelebi noted that the Ottoman Empire had 40 guilds of musicians in 1670's Istanbul.[5] Ottoman military bands influenced European equivalents.[6] Each regiment in the British Army maintained its own military band. Until 1749 bandsmen were civilians hired at the expense of the colonel commanding a regiment. Subsequently they became regular enlisted men [7] who accompanied the unit on active service to provide morale enhancing music on the battlefield or, from the late nineteenth century on, to act as stretcher bearers. Instruments during the 18th century included fifes, drums, the hautbois, French horn, clarinet and bassoon. Drummers summoned men from their farms and ranches to muster for duty. In the chaotic environment of the battlefield, musical instruments were the only means of commanding the men to advance, stand or retire. In the mid 19th century each smaller unit had their own fifer and drummer, who sounded the daily routine. When units massed for battle a band of musicians was formed for the whole.[8]

A series of army reviews starting in 1994 reduced the number of military bands from 69 to 23. Except for the Guards Division modern army bands are linked with corps or divisions rather than forming part of individual regiments.

The oldest of all British military bands, is the Royal Artillery Band, which also has the distinction that its musicians are double-handers, performing on both stringed instruments and wind instruments (see also Royal Artillery Mounted Band). The orchestra is the oldest symphony orchestra in Britain. The Band can trace its origins back to 1557 at the Battle of St. Quentin, although it was not made 'official' until 1762. The Royal Artillery Band is the senior State band of the British Army, and the only non-Household band to carry that title. An unusual detail to the ceremonial uniform worn by its musicians, is that each musician wears a sword. The Band's swords were presented to the band, by the Duke of Kent, father to Queen Victoria. The 'sister' bands of the Royal Artillery are, in order of seniority, the Band of the Royal Engineers, and the Band of The Royal Signals. When performing with massed bands of the British Army, the Royal Artillery Band is placed right of the line, and before those of the Household Cavalry, and the Guards Division.

The bands of the Royal Marines Bands Service take precedence over all bands because the Royal Marines (once belonging to the Army) now belong to the Royal Navy, and in the absence of navy bands, represent music in the Senior Service.

In the United Kingdom, massed military bands perform at Trooping the Colour, an annual ceremony held every June on Horse Guards Parade to mark the official Queen's Birthday celebrations. The Massed Bands and Massed Mounted Bands play a central role in this ceremony. The term "Massed Bands" denotes the formation of more than one separate band performing together, whether belonging to one or more regiments, or indeed countries.

During World War II, The Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra, better known as The Squadronaires, served to entertain troops and support morale.

United States[edit]

The American military band traditions date from the British era. From the American Revolutionary War onward military bands marched in the same manner as their French counterparts.

During the American Civil War most Union regiments had both types of groups within the unit. However, due to changes in military tactics by the end of World War I field musical had been mostly phased out in favor of the brass bands. These performed in a concert setting for entertainment, as well as continued to perform drill and martial events. In the United States, these bands were increased in instrumentation to include woodwinds, which gives us the modern military band in the United States, as well as the basis for high school and college marching bands and concert bands.

Field music is also popular with many organizations such as police, fire, and veterans groups maintaining pipe and drum, fife and drum, or drum and bugle corps.

Russian Federation[edit]

Russian military band playing in Quebec City

Starting in the late 17th century with the birth of the regular Russian armed services, each unit of the Imperial army and navy formed their own bands using regular enlisted personnel and NCOs and led by officers as directors of music and bandmasters. This tradition stayed even in the Soviet era, and one of the finest band conductors of that era was Major General Semeon Chernetsky, who founded and became the first director of music of the Central Band of the Ministry of Defense of the Soviet Union from 1927 to 1951. Indeed, Russia has a long tradition of military bands and so many military marches have been composed by various composers through the years.

Today, military bands in the Russian Federation are also of the headquarters element from the regimental level onward, and also provide musical support to the different units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Protective Service, the Federal Security Service and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The military bands here also provide musical support in civil and military events, in a wide range of groups and ensembles. Some can even continue the old Russian military band traditions by donning the old imperial military uniforms of the Russian Empire, especially the uniforms of the bands. Examples of such are the Central Band of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, the Exemplary Band of the Moscow Garrison Guard of Honor, the St. Petersburg Admiralty Band, the Central Band of the Western Military District and the Presidential Band from the Kremlin Regiment.

Functions and duties[edit]

Military bands can vary in function and duties based on their specific mission. Bands may perform for a variety of reasons such as special events, military review, public relations or troop entertainment.

Military bands play ceremonial and marching music, including the national anthems and patriotic songs. A concert band's repertoire includes original wind compositions, arrangements of orchestral compositions, light music, popular tunes and concert marches found in standard repertoire. Modern-day military musicians often perform a variety of other styles of music in different ensembles, from chamber music to rock and roll. It is the same case in the other services as well.

Bands personnel may perform other duties in addition to musical performance. In the United States Army, the band is attached to the headquarters element and one of its duties is to provide security for the command post.

Commonwealth of Nations[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Massed bands at Trooping the Colour, London, 2007.

British Armed Forces bands, whatever service they belong, would have the following instrument formation formats depending on service affiliation:

General Formation Format[edit]

This is the formation used in the British Army and the Royal Air Force. Cavalry and artillery bands use this formation when they are dismounted.

Composition of British Army cavalry and artillery bands when the band is mounted

  • 1 Drum Horse (with Timpani) (an additional drumhorse would be a part when needed)
  • State Cavalry Trumpeters
  • Tubas
  • Euphoniums, Baritones
  • Trombones
  • Cornets
  • Horns
  • Saxophones, Bassoons
  • Flutes, Piccolos, Clarinets and Oboes

Royal Marines Formation Format[edit]

  • RM Corps of Drums
    • Field Drums/Bugles
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare Drums
    • Bass Drums
    • Cymbals
    • Single Tenor Drums
    • Glockenspiels (optional)
  • Trombones
  • Tubas
  • Euphoniums, Baritone horns
  • Horns
  • Saxophones
  • Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Flutes, Piccolo, Bassoons
  • Bugles (optional)

Since the 1903 Coronation Pageant, the Royal Marines Band Service, as the representative military music service of the Royal Navy (as the Armed Forces' Senior Service) and the Corps of Royal Marines, use this band formation format, unique to the British Armed Forces military bands. Due to the absence of bands in the RN since the 1950s, these are the only remaining military bands in its service rosters. The 70-strong military marching band of the Duke of York's Royal Military School, the largest in the whole of and from 2010 onward outside the British Armed Forces (with the exception of the Christ's Hospital Band which fields over 100 students), also uses this formation.

Christ's Hospital Band Formation Format[edit]

  • Drum Majors (who do not conduct the band but are there purely to direct marching, to place halts and for show)
  • Marching percussion
    • Snare drummers
    • Bass and tenor drummers
    • Cymbals
  • Trombones (1st, 2nd, and bass)
  • Tubas and Euphoniums
  • 1st and 2nd Trumpets
  • French and tenor horns
  • Alto saxophones (1st and 2nd)
  • Tenor saxophones
  • Oboes
  • Bassoons
  • Flutes (1st, 2nd and 3rd)
    • Piccolos
  • Clarinets (1st, 2nd and 3rd)

Although not a military marching band, attached to a regiment in the British Army, Christ's Hospital band is the foremost school-based Military Marching Band in the UK. All instrumentalists are between the ages of 11 and 18, ABRSM grade 6 (or equivalent) and are currently students at the school. The band is run by Terry Whittingham, a former Band Master for the Queen's Royal Highlanders, and is always lead by the Senior Drum Major who, along with the pupil Band Captain, receives ceremonial buttons after being appointed. While the appointment of a Band Captain is always a pupil in their final year, the Senior Drum Major can be of any age if there are not enough skilled applicants on a more senior year. The band performs annually at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, and also in the Lord Mayor's Show as well as in a St. Matthews day parade through the City of London. The band has also played at The White House, Twickenham Stadium, and many other world famous areas. The band also performs a Beating the Retreat ceremony at the end of each academic year, and the school's concert band, professional Big Band, and many other musical ensembles perform in many concerts at the school in West Sussex.

Military bands of the armed forces reserves and civil and youth military marching band traditions[edit]

The various volunteer reserve bands in the British Armed Forces' three services use the above-mentioned band formations, as well as civil military styled marching bands.

The various youth military uniformed services of the UK have their own bands using the very same formations mentioned earlier:

The British General bands format is also used by the Liberty High School Grenadier Band in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since 1967, adapted and made suitable for the American high school marching bands with the addition of Sousaphones, Mellophones, Baritone horns and fewer trumpets. The LHSGB also has a pipe band section and 12 herald trumpeters. This format is also used by several US high school bands found all over the country. The format used by the RM and the DYRMS is the formation used by the Valley Forge Military Academy and College Regimental Band in Wayne, Pennsylvania, led and staffed by retired RMBS personnel, and by the United States Merchant Marine Academy Regimental Band, also modeled on the Royal Marines bands.

British style brass bands have the same positioning as the British Army bands as it is composed of only brass instruments, saxhorns and percussion. The same also goes for carnival band formations as well, but would have an option to include woodwinds or not.

Malaysia[edit]

Malaysian military bands are led by the percussion (snare drums either slung or mounted, bass drums, single and multiple tenor drums, cymbals and sometimes glockenspiels), and followed by the brass and woodwinds (with the addition of trumpets, mellophones, marching baritone, contrabass bugles and sousaphones), following a formation format that is similar to the Royal Marines and French military bands, and inspired by its long cultural heritage in music.

Formation of Malaysian military bands

  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums, field drums
    • Bass Drums
    • Cymbals
    • Single tenor drums
    • Multiple tenor drums (optional)
    • Glockenspiels (optional)
  • 1st Sousaphones, tubas, baritones and alto horns (optional)
  • 1st Trumpets, Cornets (optional)
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Saxophones
  • 2nd Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Horns, Mellophones, 2nd Baritones, marching baritones, 2nd Alto horns
  • Trombones
  • Tubas, Sousaphones, Contrabass bugles
  • Bagpipes (optional)

New Zealand[edit]

Military bands in New Zealand get their formation from Commonwealth and US bands. The Band of The Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery has the following instrumental formation when on parade:

  • Trombones
  • Soprano Cornet
  • Cornets
  • Flugel Horn
  • Horns
  • Marching Percussion
  • Tenor Horns
  • Baritones
  • Euphoniums
  • Tuba (Eb and Bb)
  • Sousaphone

In 2012 nine of the existing twelve New Zealand military bands were disbanded for reasons of economy.

Singapore[edit]

Until the 1990s the Singapore Armed Forces and Singapore Police Force band formations were similar to the Royal Marines Band Service, and Malaysian military bands. In the beginning of the 21st century this was changed to a format similar to British Army and Royal Air Force military bands.

United States[edit]

U.S. Navy Band

Even though American military bands inherited the British military traditions, there is no doubt that the US has its very own military band traditions. Composers like John Philip Sousa developed the American military band sound that has become a worldwide sensation since the 19th century.

Ever since the American Revolution ended in 1781, American military bands march to the fast tempo of French military bands, owing to their fast marching pace as compared with the slow marching pace of British bands. The instrumental positioning, even though inspired by the British, is also a mix of other influences, including French and German influences. A uniquely American type of military band still remains to be the Ancient Fife and Drum Corps and only the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps is the only band of this type. The US bugle bands are also the precursors of the modern day drum and bugle corps and the only one in active service today is that of the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps "The Commandant's Own". Moreover another clear descendant are the civilian brass bands active all over the nation, tracing their heritage to the Civil War military brass bands.

The largest military marching band in the world is in the United States, that of the "Fightin' Texas Aggie Band" of Texas A&M University. It is entirely composed of ROTC cadets from the university's Corps of Cadets[9] and subdivided into two bands: the Infantry and Artillery bands of the Corps.

American military bands have a number of formations, and they are led by Drum Majors and Bandmasters. Four examples follow:

1st Formation

  • Bugles and Fanfare Trumpets
  • Trombones
  • Horns, Mellophones
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Saxophones
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Single and multiple tenor drums
    • Glockenspiels
  • Trumpets, Flugelhorns, Cornets
  • Saxhorns, baritone and alto horns
  • Over the shoulder saxhorns (optional and in Civil War bands)
  • Tubas, Sousaphones, Helicons, Contrabass bugles

2nd Formation

  • Bugles and Fanfare Trumpets
  • Clarinets, Oboes
  • Flutes, Piccolos, Saxophones, Bassoons
  • Trumpets, Flugelhorns, Cornets
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Single and multiple tenor drums
    • Glockenspiels
  • Trombones
  • Horns, Mellophones
  • Saxhorns, Baritones
  • Over the shoulder saxhorns (optional and in Civil War bands)
  • Tubas, Sousaphones, Helicons, Contrabass Bugles

3rd Formation (Used in the 19th to mid-20th centuries)

  • Bugles and Fanfare Trumpets
  • Trombones
  • Sousaphones, Helicons, Contrabass Bugles
  • Over the shoulder saxhorns (optional and in Civil War bands)
  • Tubas
  • Horns, Mellophones
  • Trumpets, Flugelhorns, Cornets
  • Clarinets, Oboes
  • Flutes, Piccolos, Saxophones, Bassoons
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Single and multiple tenor drums
    • Glockenspiels

Formation used by the United States Marine Band and other USMC bands from the early to mid-1900s, in few occasions including the USMDBC from the 1930s and other DBCs
The formation mirrored Royal Navy and Royal Marines bands of that time but is the reverse of the present day band formations used by the latter.

  • Military Band Proper
    • Bugles and Fanfare Trumpets (optional)
    • Field Snare and Tenor drums
    • Field bass drums and cymbals (optional)
    • Trombones
    • Sousaphones, Helicons, Contrabass Bugles
    • Tubas
    • Horns, Mellophones
    • Trumpets, Flugelhorns, Cornets
    • Clarinets, Oboes
    • Flutes, Piccolos, Saxophones, Bassoons
    • 1st and 2nd Marching Percussion
      • Snare drums
      • Bass drums
      • Cymbals
      • Single and multiple tenor drums
      • Glockenspiels
  • Drum and Bugle Corps
    • Snare drums
    • Single and multiple tenor drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Bugles
    • Glockenspiels (optional)

US Field Music formations

  • Snare drums
  • Bass drums
  • Single tenor drums (optional)
  • Cymbals (optional)
  • Fifes
  • Bugles
  • Single-valve bugles (Only in the Old Guard FDC)
  • Glockenspiels (optional)

France[edit]

Alphorns of the 27th regiment of Chasseurs alpins.

France has a long established military band tradition. While modern instrumentation somewhat mirrors those of British and American military bands, it is based on uniquely French military music traditions. These bands are led by a conductor and a drum major.

There are four types of military bands today in France: military marching bands (subdivided into marching and mounted brass bands), Corps of Drums (only in the French Foreign Legion), Fanfare bands (attached to the marching band or as separate marching bands) and Pipe bands (more known in Brittany as the Bagad). Examples of these are the Marching and Fanfare Bands of the French Republican Guard, the Mounted Band of the French Republican Guard and the Central Band of the French Foreign Legion, the only remaining French military band to use the fife. The French Army Cavalry and Armored Branch maintain mounted and dismounted fanfare bands featuring cavalry trumpets and bugles plus kettledrums and marching percussion. Another example is the band of the French Chasseurs Alpins (the band of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade (France)) which uses the Alphorns in displays.

Instrumentation of French military bands
Military marching bands, Fanfare bands and Pipe bands

  • Trombones
  • Horns
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Bugles, fanfare bugles, fanfare trumpets, natural trumpets, natural horns, Cor de chasse
  • Fifes (only in the French Foreign Legion)
  • Bagpipes (optional and in several military bands)
  • Marching percussion (marching, fanfare and pipe bands)
    • Field snare drums
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Single tenor drums (optional)
    • Multiple tenor drums (optional)
    • Glockenspiel (optional)
    • Turkish crescent (only in the French Foreign Legion and the 1st Spahi Regiment)
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Saxophones
  • Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Baritone horns, Tubas, Helicons, Sousaphones
  • Alphorns (only by the bands of the Chasseurs Alpins)

Mounted brass bands

  • Timpani (on 1 to 2 drumhorses)
  • Fanfare bugles, fanfare trumpets, natural trumpets, natural horns, cors de chasse
  • Trombones
  • Horns
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Tubas, baritone horns, Helicons, Sousaphones

Italy[edit]

Italian Military band at Nice (the band belongs to the Bersaglieri thus its a brass band and is marching on the jogging pace)

Italy has a long tradition of military music. Today, Italian military bands (called in the Italian language as both either banda or fanfara) even through have an instrumentation order similar to British, French and US military bands, retain the Italian musical favor and heritage.

Mounted bands in the Italian Army, Carabineri and the Polizia di Stato formerly used only the bugle, now they use brass, woodwinds, timpani, single tenor drums, bass drums, snare drums, cymbals and glockenspiels.

Brass bands belonging to the Bersaglieri have no percussion and march on the jogging pace of their attached units on the lead.

Instrumental formation of Italian Armed Forces bands

  • Single tenor drums
  • Fanfare trumpets, bugles (optional)
  • Trombones
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Horns, Mellophones
  • Marching percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Glockenspiel (optional)
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Saxophones
  • Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Baritone horns, Wagner tubas, Helicons, Sousaphones

Instrumental formation of Bersaglieri brass bands

  • Trombones
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Baritone horns, Wagner tubas, Tubas

Instrumental formation of Italian Army, Carabineri and State Police mounted bands

  • Timpani
  • Bugles (optional)
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Horns, Mellophones
  • Marching percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Glockenspiel (optional)
    • Single tenor drums
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Saxophones
  • Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Baritone horns, Wagner tubas, Helicons

Instrumental formation of Italian drum and bugle bands
Italy in the past had military drum and bugle corps in the tradition of Roman fanfare bands.

  • Snare drums
  • Bass drums
  • Single tenor drums
  • Cymbals
  • Bugles
  • Fanfare trumpets

Germany, Austria, South and Central America[edit]

Austrian military band

German (formerly East German) and Austrian (and South/Central American) military bands have two or more components depending on instrumentation. Military bands in Germany's Bundeswehr today are only a Military band and a Corps of Drums (Austrian bands do not) while Military bands in Chile have the same instrumentation with the addition of Sousaphones and Bugles on the Corps of Drums, the same with those military bands from the Spanish-speaking South American countries, with a few unique additions. Argentine military bands have field drummers and occasionally buglers and fifes (as is the case with the Tacuari Drummer military band of the Regiment of Patricians, which has two fifers) accompanying the main band while bands in Peru and Ecuador have the percussion on the front and the woodwinds and brass behind them.

Other distinguishing features are the presence or absence of the Turkish crescent in the military bands when they are on parade and the band's conductor being assisted by a Drum major and in Chile and Mexico by a bugle major. Another key feature, seen in some military bands in Brazil and in the Pipe band of the Colombian Navy's Naval Academy "Admiral Jose Prudencio Padillia", is the presence of bagpipes in the bands, and as seen in the Marching Band of the Brazilian Marines, the use of more bugles types like baritones and mellow phones. In Bolivia, the use of the Turkish crescent with the addition of vertical banners and standards is standard practice in its military bands.

In types of ensemble, these bands are called as:

  • Corps of Drums (Spielmanszug, Tambourkorps, Trommlerkorps, Banda de Guerra, Banda Marcial, Banda Musico Marcial/Tradicional Marcial (in Colombia), Peloton Comando (in Ecuador))
  • Military/Music/Marching Band (Musikkorps, Musikkappele, Orchester, Banda de Musico/Musica, Banda Militar, Banda Marcial (in Brazil), Banda instrumental)
  • Drum and bugle bands (Banda de Guerra (in Mexico))
  • Brass bands (Blasorchester, Blaskappelle)
  • Mounted bands (Trompeterkorps, Kavalleriemusik, Kavallerieorchester, Kavallerie Fanfare, Fanfarekavalleriekorps, Banda Montada, Fanfarria Militar)

Such bands are led by Drum Majors, Conductors and Bugle Majors in the case of mounted, bugle and fanfare bands.

Instrumentation
Military Band, Marching Band, Brass Band, Regimental Band and Bugles, Mounted Band, Mounted Fanfare Band

  • Tubas, Sousaphones, Helicons
  • Wagner tubas, Alto horns, Euphoniums, Baritone horns
  • Trombones, Trumpets, Flugelhorns, Keyed bugles, Cornets
  • Horns, Mellophones
  • Saxophones, Flutes, Piccolos, Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons
  • Glockenspiels
  • Bass drums
  • Single and multiple tenor drums
  • Cymbals
  • Snare drums, Field drums
  • Bagpipes (in several military bands)
  • Turkish crescent
  • Timpani (for mounted bands and optional for massed bands)
  • Fanfare bugles, Fanfare trumpets (optional)
  • Bugles (also optional)
  • Fifes (also optional)

Corps of Drums, Fanfare Band/Section, Bugle Section, Pipe section

  • Snare drums
  • Field/Precision snare drums
  • Single tenor drums
  • Multiple tenor drums
  • Bass Drums
  • Cymbals
  • Turkish crescent
  • Fifes, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Bugles (Austrian, Chilean, Venezuelan, Colombian, Argentine, Brazilian, Peruvian and Ecuadorian military bands)
  • Bagpipes (in several military bands)
  • Fanfare trumpets, Fanfare bugles, Natural trumpets, Natural horns, Cors de chasse
  • Glockenspiels

Argentina[edit]

A long tradition of friendship of more than 140 years links the Argentinean and German peoples (Germans are the fourth European community in Argentina, after Spanish, Italians and Britons), and their army bands reflect this friendship.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there was an exchange of marches between the Imperial Army and the Argentinean Army: Germans gave Argentinians Alte Kameraden, while Argentinians gave Germans the Marcha de San Lorenzo, which was used by them in 1940 in the military parade in the Champs Elysées when they defeated France.

Three important bands belong to the oldest cavalry, artillery and infantry regiments under the Argentine Army, using a different band formation.

  • The "Alto Peru Fanfare" Band of the Argentine Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers, an all-brass mounted band using the same brass and percussion instruments mentioned. Uniform design is from 1813, and this band serves the President of Argentina.
    Argentina: Cavalry Regiment no. 1 Granaderos a Caballo band
  • The Tambor de Tacuari is the "Regiment of Patricians"'s regimental band. This regiment is the oldest and more aristocratic Argentinean infantry regiment. Musicians wear the 1806 regulation uniform used by the Regiment.
    Argentina: Infantry Regiment no. 1 Patricios band
  • The Ituzaingó Band of the 1st Artillery Regiment "Brigadier General Tomas de Iriarte" is the official honors band of the Argentine Ministry of Defense, wearing uniforms worn by Argentine gunners during the Argentina-Brazil War.

Peru[edit]

Examples of Peruvian bands include the Mounted Fanfare Band Company of the Presidential Dragoon Guards Escort Regiment "Marshal Domingo Nieto" of the Peruvian Army and the Casma Cadet Band of the Peruvian Naval School, Peruvian Navy.

Chile[edit]

Two Chilean mounted bands are of high interest: the Mounted Band and Bugles of the 1st Cavalry Regiment "Grenadiers" and the Band and Bugles of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment "Hussars" of the Chilean Army. Other bands include the band of the Army NCO School and the Bernardo O'Higgins Military Academy, also of the Chilean Army.

Uruguay[edit]

The Mounted Band of the 1st Cavalry Regiment "José Gervasio Artigas's Own Blandengues Horse Guards" of the Uruguayan Army is a mounted brass band.

Ecuador[edit]

The Mounted Band of the Ecuadorian National Police use both brass, woodwinds and percussion, and also utilize bugles.

Russia/CIS military bands[edit]

In the days of the Imperial Russian Armed Forces, military bands followed the German style of military bands, with the addition of the chromatic fanfare trumpet. Some but not all Russian marches then were made in Germany and other locations as the rest were locally composed military marches. They would usually have a conductor, and a drum major using his mace with/or a bugle major playing the chromatic fanfare trumpet. Brass instruments formed the first tier of the formation followed by the percussion and the woodwinds. Mounted cavalry bands were similar to German ones but were different in many aspects.

Military bands when massed would add field drums and fanfare trumpets to the ensemble for large parades and state ceremonies. The formation used by these massed bands mirror today's formations.

By the time that the Soviet Armed Forces came into being in 1918, military bands began to change for the better. With the establishment of the NKVM Central Military Band by Semyon Tchernetskiy in 1927 came the birth of today's Russian and ex-Soviet Union military band culture. In the late 1920s and the 1930s the typical Soviet Massed military bands that perform on May 1, November 7 and from 1945 onward, May 9, would be composed of a Military band and a Corps of Drums marching past and until the 1970s would later join the military band in place.

Soviet massed military bands in the 1930s and 1940s tend to have a drum major, a conductor and an optional two to three deputy conductors in the front of the band. Mounted bands had the same formation, but with only a director of music and the optional mounted band drum major.

Instrumentation and positioning of Soviet massed military bands in the early 1930s–1940s

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets
  • Trombones
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare Drums
    • Bass Drums
    • Cymbals
    • Turkish Crescents
    • Glockenspiels
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Clarinets (soprano/alto/bass), Oboes, Flutes and Piccolos
  • Horns, Saxophones
  • Wagner Tubas, Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Alto and Baritone horns
  • Tubas, Helicons, Sousaphones (rain catcher type)
  • Corps of Drums (from the 1930s onward)
    • Snare Drums

Instrumental formation of Soviet mounted bands

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets (optional)
  • Timpani
  • Bugles
  • Trombones
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Clarinets (soprano/alto/bass), Oboes, Flutes and Piccolos
  • Horns, Saxophones
  • Wagner Tubas, Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Alto and Baritone horns
  • Tubas, Helicons, Sousaphones

The Soviet military bands of the pre-war days played not only on May Day and Revolution Day, but in the National Sports Day parades at the Red Square, the various sports competitions and other occasions and after the Second World War, at Victory Day celebrations across the USSR. In the 1930s, the Turkish crescent holders were shaking during the sports parades, but in the 1940s, they were not shaking them. Their formation mirrored those used by Russian military bands in the Imperial era.

By the 1950s, Soviet Military bands evolved in instrumentation. Their positioning, especially in the Moscow bands, changed for the better as newly composed Soviet Military marches soon created the Soviet military band sound common to Westerners during the Cold War days.

A conductor and one to four drum majors and several bandmasters led the military bands of the Soviet Union into a new decade of progress for Soviet military music.

Instrumentation and positioning of Soviet Military bands of the late 1940s

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Saxophones (Alto/tenor/Baritone)
  • Marching percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Glockenspiels
    • Turkish crescents
    • Bass drums
    • Clash cymbals
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Horns
  • Wagner tubas
  • Euphoniums, Saxhorns, Alto horns
  • Trombones
  • Baritone horns, Tubas

Instrumentation and positioning of Soviet massed military bands from the 1950s - 1970s
1951−1961

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Saxophones
  • Marching percussion
    • Snare Drums
    • Turkish crescents
    • Glockenspiels
    • Bass Drums, Cymbals
  • Horns
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Wagner tubas, Baritone Horns, Alto horns, Saxhorns
  • Trombones
  • Euphoniums, Tubas

1962−1975

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets
  • Front snare drums and Turkish crescents (Leningrad MD bands)
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Saxophones
  • Marching percussion
    • Snare Drums
    • Turkish crescents
    • Glockenspiels
    • Bass Drums, Clash cymbals
  • Horns
  • Trombones
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Wagner tubas, Baritone Horns, Saxhorns, Alto horns, Euphoniums
  • Tubas (Sousaphones would be added in 1977)

1981 onward
Under the leadership of Major General Nikolai Mikhailov from 1976 to 1993 as Overall Director of Music of the Military Bands Service of the Ministry of National Defense of the USSR, what would become the modern military bands of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Russian Federation were born and rose to greatness and international appeal.

The massed military bands in the last 10 years of the USSR and the first 2 years of the CIS would be composed of the following formation:

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets, Field Drums
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Marching Percussion (1st and 2nd since 1988)
    • Snare Drums
    • Bass Drums, Cymbals
    • Turkish Crescents
    • Glockenspiels
  • Trombones
  • Horns
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Flutes and Piccolos, Saxophones
  • Wagner Tubas, Baritone horns, Tenor horns, Saxhorns
  • Euphoniums, Tubas and Sousaphones

Beginning in 1981 through the collapse of the Soviet Union, field drummers were added to the massed bands during the famous Red Square parades in between the chromatic fanfare trumpeters. Parades in other Soviet cities only used the chromatic fanfare trumpeters in file formation in front of the bands, the parades in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) also used the field drums as well.

Instrumentation and formation of Russian Military bands in the 1990s
1995
With the advent of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Military Bands Service, Major General Mikhailov's term as its first Director of Music ended in 1993, and was replaced by Lieutenant General Viktor Afanasyev, who was later replaced by the current Sr. Director of Music, Lt. Gen. Valery Khalilov, who was then a Colonel, in 2002.

The 1995 Victory Day Parades at Red Square and Moscow's Poklonnaya Hill created the modern Russian Military band we know today. The Afanesbev band formation in the 1990s is as follows:

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets, Field Drums
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums and Cymbals
    • Turkish crescents
    • Glockenspiels
  • Trombones
  • Horns
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Saxophones, Flutes and Piccolos
  • Wagner Tubas, Baritone horns, Tenor horns, Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Tubas, Sousaphones

In 2000, the formation setup was partially revised so that the field drums and fanfare trumpets are now clearly separated, with the fanfare trumpeters at the sides and the field drummers now holding the center of the band, with the Directors of Music in between the two groups of field drummers. This is the formation used today in Moscow, but in other Russian cities band instrumental formations tend to differ in usage. It was revised again to include the 1st glockspiels in 2012, symbolizing the homage given to bandsmen of old times.

Formation of massed military bands in Moscow today

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets, Field Drums, 1st Glockenspiels
  • Trumpets, Cornets, Flugelhorns
  • 1st Trombones
  • 1st and 2nd Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums and Cymbals
    • Turkish crescents
    • 2nd Glockenspiels
  • 2nd Trombones
  • Horns, Mellophones
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Saxophones, Bassoons, Flutes and Piccolos
  • Wagner tubas, Baritone horns, Tenor horns, Saxhorns, Euphoniums, Tubas, Sousaphones

Formation of massed military bands in St. Petersburg today

  • Chromatic Fanfare Trumpets (optional)
  • Field Drums (optional)
  • Trumpets
  • 1st Trombones, Horns and Woodwinds
    • Clarinets, Saxophones
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare Drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Turkish crescent (since 2011)
    • Glockenspiels
  • 2nd Trombones and Horns
  • 2nd Woodwinds
    • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons, Flutes, Piccolos
    • Saxophones
  • Saxhorns, Baritone and tenor horns, Euphoniums, Wagner Tubas
  • Tubas, Sousaphones

Thailand[edit]

Inspired by British military bands, military bands in Thailand play uniquely Thai military marches. Especially during the Trooping of the Colours ceremonies in Bangkok every December 2 since 1953, Royal Thai Armed Forces military bands perform at every military function attended by the Royal Family and other military officers and local executives, together with the general public.

Thai military bands' formations closely follow either that of the Royal Marines Band Service, being that the percussion are at the front rather than the middle, followed by the main band itself or that of the British Army's Household Division Foot Guards Bands, being that the percussion are at the middle of the main band. But another formation followed is that of the Brazilian military bands, wherein the percussion are in front of the brass and winds, with the bass drums as the lead instruments.

1st Formation

  • Trombones
  • Trumpets, Cornets
  • Horns
  • Euphoniums, Tubas, Tenor horns, Baritones
  • Saxhorns
  • Marching percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums, cymbals, tenor drums, glockenspiels
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons
  • Saxophones
  • Flutes, Piccolos
  • Sousaphones

Korea[edit]

Military band formations differ in the two Korean countries' armed forces.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea[edit]

The bands of the Korean People's Army and the Korean People's Security Forces follow the general instrumental setup of Daechwitas, the Korean traditional military bands.

Instrumental formation

  • Fanfare trumpets
  • Horns
  • Clarinets, Oboes, Bassoons
  • Flutes, Piccolos
  • Saxophones
  • Trumpets
  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums
    • Bass drums, Cymbals
    • Concert bass drums (in massed bands only)
    • Suspended cymbals (in massed bands only)
  • Saxhorns, Alto horns, Baritone horns
  • Trombones
  • Euphoniums
  • Wagner Tubas
  • Tubas, Sousaphones

Republic of Korea[edit]

Although patterned after American and British military bands, the bands of the Republic of Korea are also inspired by the daechiwtas of the old Korean kingdoms. Their formation mirrors US and British military band formations. The Republic of Korea Army maintains a Traditional Band playing in the daechiwta styles of old, using Korean traditional musical instruments.

China (mainland and Taiwan)[edit]

Chinese military bands both in the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan play a mix of foreign and native marches and musical pieces.

During the Boxer Rebellion, the xenophobic Chinese General Dong Fuxiang who commanded the Muslim Kansu Braves, refused to allow his troops to play western musical instruments, making them play traditional Chinese instruments such as the Sheng Jia.[10]

Hong Kong SAR[edit]

Military bands in Hong Kong (save the Band of the PLA HK Garrison), although now having to play Chinese and international marches, still retain the British and Commonwealth influences and the band formation is one such proof, as well as the use of pipe bands. They use the format for the bands in the British Army.

People's Republic of China[edit]

Even through inspired by Soviet military music from the very start of the nation, the military bands of the People's Republic of China (either belonging to the People's Liberation Army or the People's Armed Police) play indigenous and locally composed military marches, during official ceremonies and other events as called for.

Instrumental Positioning

  • Marching Percussion
    • Snare drums/field drums
    • Bass drums
    • Cymbals
    • Tenor drums (optional)
  • Clarinets
  • Trumpets
  • Trombones
  • Horns
  • Oboes, Bassoons, Flutes, Piccolos
  • Saxophones
  • Saxhorns, Alto horns, tenor/baritone horns, Wagner tubas
  • Tubas, Euphoniums, Sousaphones

Republic of China (Taiwan)[edit]

Military bands of the R.O.C. can trace their origins to the 1911 revolution. Existing units including the Ministry of National Defense Symphony Orchestra, the Army Band, the Navy Band, and the Air Force Band.[11] All these bands are inspired by American and German military band traditions, and their formation mirrors those used by US bands. Taiwan also has a great military drum and bugle corps tradition as well with several military DBCs in active service.

Sweden[edit]

The Swedish Mounted Band of the Royal Lifeguards
The Royal Swedish Navy Cadet Band

Traditionally, every Swedish regiment had a band. During the 20th century many of them were disbanded and 1957 all military bands reaming merged into one per garrison or disbanded entirely. The Swedish military music was made into a non-military organization in 1971 but as this didn't work, the Royal Swedish Army Band was set up in 1982, followed by several other bands in the 1990s. Today, Swedish military music has gone through new cuts and has 2 bands in the army and 2 in the navy. In addition there are 26 bands in the Swedish Home Guard.

Modern bands:


Photographs[edit]

Images[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • CWO (Ret`d) Jack Kopstein CD ` When the Band Begins to Play: A History of Military Music in Canada (1992).
  • CWO (Ret`d) Jack Kopstein CD & Ian Pearson `The Heritage of Military Music in Canada` (St. Catharines, Ont.: Vanwell Pub., 2002)
  • CWO (Ret`d) Jack Kopstein CD & Ian Pearson `The History of the Marches in Canada: Regimental/Branch/Corps` (Hignell Printing Ltd, 1994).

External links[edit]