Top Secret Drum Corps

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Top Secret Drum Corps, performing with their notable 'fire-sticks'.

Top Secret Drum Corps is a precision drum corps based in Basel, Switzerland. With 25 drummers and colorguard members, the corps became famous for its demanding six-minute routine performed at the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2003. With its invitation to Edinburgh, Top Secret became one of the first non-military, non-British Commonwealth acts to perform on the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle.

Since its success in 2003, Top Secret was invited to return to Edinburgh in 2006 with a new and improved routine. They were invited a third time in 2009 and again in 2012 and 2015. Under the leadership of Erik Julliard, the band is also responsible for the founding of the Basel Tattoo, a military tattoo show similar to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, now held annually in Basel.

Drumming style[edit]

Top Secret has its roots in the rich drumming traditions of the band's home city, Basel, Switzerland, which is known for its annual carnival called Fasnacht. The city is said to have over 3,000 active drummers at any one time. These drummers perform at traditional events such as Fasnacht, the Vogel Gryff, Charivari, and various parades associated with the city's guilds. A Trommelkönig (Drummer King) competition is also held every year by the city's Fasnacht Committee.

Basel drumming style is militaristic, derived from the military drumming drills of Swiss soldiers dating back to the Middle Ages. Top Secret in many ways adheres to the military nature of Basel drumming, but differs in many respects. Its drummers play at a much faster rate. Also, while traditional Basel drumming is somber and favors traditional marching tunes (accompanied by fifes during the Fasnacht), Top Secret's drumming style is upbeat and playful. Segments of their routines feature a rhumba, a drummer's duel, drumstick juggling, exploding flagpoles, and other crowd-pleasing details. [1]

Perhaps because of their 18th Century uniforms and precision work, the band is often referred to as a military band or a part of the Swiss Army, but it is not affiliated with any military unit.


Top Secret's members are highly dedicated college students to drummers with diverse day jobs—bankers, civil servants, factory workers, etc.[2] They give up their free time to practice nearly every day of the year. Due to the demanding nature of the work, its membership changes frequently.

Ongoing success[edit]

Since its 2003 performance at Edinburgh, Top Secret has enjoyed worldwide success. They have performed at various venues in Europe, the United States, Australia and at the 2008 South African Tattoo held from 11 - 14 September 2008.[3] In 2011, they performed at the Quebec Military Tattoo.

They are the subject of a documentary film by Swiss television which recounts their rise to fame at the Edinburgh Tattoo. A feature film based on the Edinburgh endeavor is currently in the works with Insert Films, Switzerland.

Top Secret made an appearance on an episode of the 2014 series of Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, as the act for the "End of the Show - Show". In their routine, show presenters Ant and Dec joined in as drummers, colour-inverted versions of the drummers' jackets (Ant and Dec wore white; the drummers always wear off-black). The routine included the ever-present drummers' duel, the ever-present stick juggle and the notable fire-stick routine.[citation needed]

A Top Secret Drum Corp drumming loop features heavily on British Electronic band The Prodigy's 2015 release 'The Day is my Enemy' which also became the title of the album released the same year. The Prodigy founder and producer Liam Howlett is said to be a big fan of Top Secret.... and asked permission to record a drum section for use on the band's album.

In May 2016 the Drum Corps provided one of the performances in the spectacular 90th Birthday Celebration for the British Queen Elizabeth II.


External links[edit]