National Emblem

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"National Emblem"
National Emblem (Walter Jacobs), by Edwin Eugene Bagley.png
March by Edwin Eugene Bagley
Released 1906
Recorded May 19, 1908
Genre March
Label Walter Jacobs
Composer(s) Edwin Eugene Bagley
Producer(s) Edwin Eugene Bagley

"National Emblem", as played by the United States Army Band.

"National Emblem", also known as the "National Emblem March", is an American march composed in 1902 and published in 1906 by Edwin Eugene Bagley. It is a standard of the American march repertoire, appearing in eleven published editions. The U.S. military uses the trio section as ceremonial music for the color guard when presenting and retiring the colors.


Bagley composed the score during a 1902 train tour with his family band. He became frustrated with the ending, and tossed the composition in a bin. Members of the band retrieved it and secretly rehearsed the score in the baggage car. Bagley was surprised when the band informed him minutes before the next concert that they would perform it. It became the most famous of all of Bagley’s marches. Despite this the composition did not make Bagley wealthy; he sold the copyright for $25.

In the first strain, Bagley incorporated the first twelve notes of "The Star-Spangled Banner" played by euphonium, bassoon, alto clarinet, tenor saxophone, and trombone and ingeniously disguised in duple rather than triple time. The rest of the notes are all Bagley’s, including the four short repeated A-flat major chords that lead to a statement by the low brass that is now reminiscent of the national anthem. Unusually, Bagley’s march does not incorporate either a breakstrain or a stinger however the exact repetition of the trio's melody at a chromatic mediant (A-flat Major/m.3 of Trio, then C Major/m.10 of Trio)[1] is suggestive of a breakstrain.

John Philip Sousa was once asked to list the three most effective street marches ever written. Not surprisingly, Sousa listed two of his own compositions, but he selected "National Emblem" for the third. When Sousa formed and conducted the 350-member U.S. Navy Jacket Band at the Naval Station Great Lakes he chose five marches for World War I Liberty bond drives. Four were by Sousa—Semper Fidelis, Washington Post, The Thunderer, Stars and Stripes Forever, and Bagley’s "National Emblem". "National Emblem" was the favorite march composition of Frederick Fennell, who made an arrangement of it in 1981. Fennell called the piece "as perfect a march as a march can be".

Besides Fennell’s arrangement, there are also band arrangements by Albert Morris (1978), Andrew Balent (1982), Paul Lavendar (1986), and Loris J. Schissel (2000).

The band of Arthur Pryor made the first recording of the march on May 19, 1908, followed by a United States Marine Band recording on March 21, 1914 (both recordings by the Victor Talking Machine Company).

In popular culture[edit]

In 1960 a group of studio musicians led by Ernie Freeman recorded a rock and roll arrangement of the tune, which was subsequently released as a Liberty Records single under the title "National City" and facetiously credited to the "Joiner, Arkansas Junior High School Band". It became a minor hit, reaching #53 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The march has been featured in films such as Protocol and Hot Shots!. It ends The Brady Bunch Episode 82 from Season 4 ("The Show Must Go On") in which Peter and Bobby play the music to accompany Mike and Greg's rendering of the poem "The Day is Done" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

In The Dirty Dozen, the march is played when one of the Dozen must pretend to be an inspecting general despite being a private. The trio is played when he begins the inspection.

The United States Marine Corps uses the final movement during the Boot Camp Graduating Ceremony in which the platoon guides turn the platoon guidons back to the Drill Instructors

The United States Air Force Academy uses the final movement of the march as its graduation processional score.

Throughout its run, the march had been featured on the 1980-1986 CTV show Bizarre.

Further reading[edit]

  • Duffy, John J. (2003). The Vermont Encyclopedia. UPNE. p. 46. 


External links[edit]