American march music

American march music

Overview
American march music is march music written and/or performed in the United States.



The true "march music era
Era
An era is a commonly used word for long period of time. When used in science, for example geology, eras denote clearly defined periods of time of arbitrary but well defined length, such as for example the Mesozoic era from 252 Ma–66 Ma, delimited by a start event and an end event. When used in...

" existed from 1850 to 1940s as it slowly became shadowed by the coming of jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

. Earlier marches, such as the ones from George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

, Wolfgang Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, and Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 tended to be part of a symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

 or a movement in a suite
Suite
In music, a suite is an ordered set of instrumental or orchestral pieces normally performed in a concert setting rather than as accompaniment; they may be extracts from an opera, ballet , or incidental music to a play or film , or they may be entirely original movements .In the...

. Despite the age of these marches, the history it holds and its performance in the United States, they are generally not thought of as "typical American march music."


The origins of European and American march music can be traced to the military music of the Ottoman empire
Ottoman military band
Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching band in the world. Though they are often known by the Persian-derived word mahtar in the West, that word, properly speaking, refers only to a single musician in the band...

.
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Encyclopedia
American march music is march music written and/or performed in the United States.


History


The true "march music era
Era
An era is a commonly used word for long period of time. When used in science, for example geology, eras denote clearly defined periods of time of arbitrary but well defined length, such as for example the Mesozoic era from 252 Ma–66 Ma, delimited by a start event and an end event. When used in...

" existed from 1850 to 1940s as it slowly became shadowed by the coming of jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

. Earlier marches, such as the ones from George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel
George Frideric Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685, in a family indifferent to music...

, Wolfgang Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, and Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 tended to be part of a symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

 or a movement in a suite
Suite
In music, a suite is an ordered set of instrumental or orchestral pieces normally performed in a concert setting rather than as accompaniment; they may be extracts from an opera, ballet , or incidental music to a play or film , or they may be entirely original movements .In the...

. Despite the age of these marches, the history it holds and its performance in the United States, they are generally not thought of as "typical American march music."

Marches and the military band



The origins of European and American march music can be traced to the military music of the Ottoman empire
Ottoman military band
Ottoman military bands are thought to be the oldest variety of military marching band in the world. Though they are often known by the Persian-derived word mahtar in the West, that word, properly speaking, refers only to a single musician in the band...

. The martial purpose of the music was to regulate the functioning of armies in the field by communicating orders, and keeping time during marching and maneuvers. The extensive use of percussion, such as cymbals, was also used for psychological effect as their use, especially in Western Europe, was unknown and had the capacity to frighten opponents. Indeed, the subsequent use of cymbals and other such percussive instruments in European 'classical' music was a direct importation from the Ottomans. In the early 18th century Europeans were first exposed to this type of music and interest would continue to build into the early 19th century when a vogue for Turkish marching bands swept through Europe. Pieces displaying this Turkish influence can be found in the works of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven with a notable example being "Turkish March" by Beethoven (part of Op. 113): Overture and incidental music for Die Ruinen von Athen.

The origins of march music began before the Gunpowder Age
History of gunpowder
Gunpowder was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the invention of nitrocellulose, nitroglycerin, smokeless powder and TNT in the second half of the 19th century...

 during which armies would maintain their troops' morale
Morale
Morale, also known as esprit de corps when discussing the morale of a group, is an intangible term used to describe the capacity of people to maintain belief in an institution or a goal, or even in oneself and others...

 by marching with music playing, whether that be from the beat of a drum
Drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

 or fife. American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 march music showed during the Revolutionary War
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 and earlier wartime conflicts, in which a fife
Fife (musical instrument)
A fife is a small, high-pitched, transverse flute that is similar to the piccolo, but louder and shriller due to its narrower bore. The fife originated in medieval Europe and is often used in military and marching bands. Someone who plays the fife is called a fifer...

 and snare drum
Snare drum
The snare drum or side drum is a melodic percussion instrument with strands of snares made of curled metal wire, metal cable, plastic cable, or gut cords stretched across the drumhead, typically the bottom. Pipe and tabor and some military snare drums often have a second set of snares on the bottom...

 would play while the troops marched to battle. This is why it can be said that march music is a military's music.

While the tradition of soldiers playing music while marching into battle had ended soon after the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 (mid 19th century), military bands continued to perform marches during related ceremonies
Ceremony
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 and other events. This actually spawned a whole new tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

 of playing marches as a source of entertainment
Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

.

Marches and the concert band



Around the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most towns, organizations, theaters, and even companies would have their own band. These bands, currently known today as community band
Community band
A community band is a concert band ensemble, generally sponsored by the town or city in which it is located and consisting primarily of amateur performers...

s, would perform their music at special events much like the military band, but would often play at simple scheduled concerts and tours (such as the traditional gazebo
Gazebo
A gazebo is a pavilion structure, sometimes octagonal, that may be built, in parks, gardens, and spacious public areas. Gazebos are freestanding or attached to a garden wall, roofed, and open on all sides; they provide shade, shelter, ornamental features in a landscape, and a place to rest...

 concerts). By this time, published marches were plentiful due to prolific composers such as John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

, Karl L. King, and Henry Fillmore
Henry Fillmore
Henry Fillmore was an American musician, composer, publisher, and bandleader, best-known for his many marches and screamers.-Biography:James Henry Fillmore Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio as the eldest of five children...

. Marches became a staple in the repertoire of these concert bands and can hence explain how the popularity
Popularity
Popularity is the quality of being well-liked or common, or having a high social status. Popularity figures are an important part of many people's personal value systems and form a vital component of success in people-oriented fields such as management, politics, and entertainment, among...

 of the march spread so rapidly across the world.

Marches and the circus



Marches were further popularized with performances by circus
Circus
A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists...

 bands. During the same period of the community band/concert band, circuses such as the Ringling Brothers
Ringling brothers
The Ringling brothers were seven siblings who transformed their small touring company of performers into one of America's largest circuses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in McGregor, Iowa and raised in Baraboo, Wisconsin, they were the children of Heinrich Friedrich August Ringling...

 and Barnum & Bailey Circus would have live music
Live Music
Live Music is a reggaeton company owned by DJ Giann.-Artists:* Jowell & Randy* Tony Lenta* Watussi* De La Ghetto* Guelo Star* Galante "El Emperador"-Producers:*DJ Blass*Dexter*Mr. Greenz*DJ Giann*Los Hitmen*Dirty Joe*ALX...

 being performed by their own bands. The marches played were often a special variety of the march known descriptively as “Screamers
Screamer (march)
A screamer is a descriptive name for a circus march, in particular, an upbeat march intended to stir up the audience during the show.- History :...

,” “Two-Step
Two-step
Two-step or Two Step may refer to:In dance*Two-step , a dance move used in a wide range of dancing genres*Country-western two-step, also known as the Texas Two-step*Nightclub Two Step, also known as the California Two-step...

s,” and “Cakewalks.” These marches served the purpose of exciting the crowd while circus acts were taking place.

Marches and the marching band


Again, during the same period, college and high school marching band
Marching band
Marching band is a physical activity in which a group of instrumental musicians generally perform outdoors and incorporate some type of marching with their musical performance. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments...

s were also beginning to form. March composers would often dedicate marches to university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 bands. Marches were performed during half-time
Half-time
In some team sports such as association football and rugby, matches are played in two halves. Half-time is the name given to the interval between the two halves of the match...

 shows and pep-rallies
Pep rally
Pep rallies are events that occur primarily in the United States and Canada. A pep rally is a gathering of people, typically students of middle school, high school and college age, before a sports event. The purpose of such a gathering is to encourage school spirit and to support members of the...

.

John Philip Sousa revolution



American composer John Philip Sousa revolutionized the march. His prolific production of quality marches added to the genre's popularity. According to Sousa researcher Paul Bierley, Sousa’s marches were known for simplicity and understatement, with rousing counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 and overall energy. Sousa also is said to have standardized
Standardization
Standardization is the process of developing and implementing technical standards.The goals of standardization can be to help with independence of single suppliers , compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability, or quality....

 the traditional march form (see below.) His Stars and Stripes Forever is the official march of the United States of America.

Common march composers in the United States


Most march composers come from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 or Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, and have some type of musical background. The most popular march composers existed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly because modern march dedicators are hard to come by. The following is a list of march music composers whose marches are frequently performed in the United States.
  • Russell Alexander
    Russell Alexander
    Russell Alexander was an entertainer and composer, active primarily with vaudeville shows and musical comedy organizations. He was a euphonium virtuoso who joined the circus band of Belford's Carnival at the age of 18...

     (1877–1915)
  • Kenneth Alford
    Kenneth Alford
    Frederick Joseph Ricketts was a British composer of marches for band. Using the pen name Kenneth J. Alford, his marches are considered to be great examples of the art...

     (1881–1945) "The British March King"
  • Edwin Eugene Bagley
    Edwin Eugene Bagley
    Edwin Eugene Bagley was born in Craftsbury, Vermont on May 29, 1857 and died in Keene, New Hampshire on January 29, 1922. He is famous for composing the National Emblem....

     (1857–1922)
  • Hermann Louis Blankenburg (1876–1956)
  • W. Paris Chambers
    W. Paris Chambers
    William Paris Chambers was an American composer, cornet soloist and bandmaster of the late 19th century....

     (1854–1913)
  • Charles E. Duble
    Charles E. Duble
    Charles Edward Duble was an American band musician and composer. He played for 23 years in circus bands. His career started as trombonist with Sun Bros. Circus in 1909, and he played in others such as Gentry Bros. Dog & Pony Show, H. W...

     (1884–1960)
  • Henry Fillmore
    Henry Fillmore
    Henry Fillmore was an American musician, composer, publisher, and bandleader, best-known for his many marches and screamers.-Biography:James Henry Fillmore Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio as the eldest of five children...

     (1881–1956) "The Trombone King"
  • Julius Fucik
    Julius Fucík (composer)
    Julius Arnost Wilhelm Fučík was a Czech composer and conductor of military bands.Fučík spent most of his life as the leader of military brass bands. He became a prolific composer, with over 300 marches, polkas, and waltzes to his name...

     (1872–1916) "The Czech March King"
  • James M. Fulton
    James M. Fulton
    James Melville Fulton was a composer, arranger, conductor, and music educator best known for composing marches. He is often associated with the traditional British melody Garry Owen which he arranged for band in 1903. His most recognized march is Associated Press, published in 1897...

     (1873–1940) "Associated Press," "Waterbury American"
  • Edwin Franko Goldman
    Edwin Franko Goldman
    Edwin Franko Goldman is one of America's prominent band composers of the early 20th century. He composed over 150 works, more notably his marches. He is known for founding the renowned Goldman Band of New York City and the American Bandmasters Association...

     (1878–1956) "The American Bandmaster"
  • Robert B. Hall
    Robert B. Hall
    Robert Browne Hall , usually known as R. B. Hall, was a leading composer of marches and other music for brass bands. A principal American composer of marching music, he was born in Bowdoinham, Maine and seldom left his native state during his lifetime, dying in Portland. His music though has...

     (1858–1907) "The New England March King"
  • George Dallas Sherman
    George Dallas Sherman
    George Dallas Sherman was born in Richmond, Vermont on August 23, 1844 to Hathaway and Relief Sherman. In 1858, at the age of 14, he joined the Richmond Cornet Band and soon became its leader. He left this band in 1864 to join the 9th Vermont Infantry as a musician during the American Civil War....

      (1844–1927) Composer of "Salute to Burlington"
  • John Clifford Heed
    John Clifford Heed
    John Clifford Heed was an American composer and musician, best known for composing over 60 marches. Born in Hackettstown, New Jersey, on April 23, 1862 Heed began his musical career with the Hackettstown Cornet Band by the age of 11...

     (1864–1908)
  • Arthur W. Hughes (ca.1870-ca.1950)
  • Fred Jewell
    Fred Jewell
    Frederick Alton Jewell, born 1875 in Worthington, Indiana, was a prolific musical composer who wrote over 100 marches and screamers, including:*Battle Royal *Floto's Triumph *Quality Plus *E Pluribus Unum *Supreme Triumph...

     (1875–1936) "The Indiana March King"
  • Karl L. King (1891–1971) "Iowa's Own Music Man," "The Circus Music King"
  • John N. Klohr
    John N. Klohr
    John Nicholas Klohr was a composer of band music. Klohr was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. A graduate of the Cincinnati public schools, Klohr set upon a career in music, especially vaudeville. He was a vaudeville trombonist by trade, but also performed as a member of Cincinnati's musical life...

     (1869–1956)
  • Alex F. Lithgow (1870–1923) "Invercargill"
  • Frank H. Losey
    Frank H. Losey
    Frank Hoyt Losey was a musician, composer, and arranger of band and orchestra music. He is credited with over 400 compositions and 2,500 arrangements including his most recognized composition, Gloria March.Losey was born in Rochester, New York and raised in Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania...

     (1872–1931) "The Pennsylvania March King"
  • J. J. Richards (1878–1956) "The Long Beach March King"
  • William Rimmer
    William Rimmer (music)
    William Rimmer was a Lancashire composer and conductor of brass band music who was particularly well-known for his marches.Rimmer was born in Southport in 1862 into a musical family. His father was bandmaster of the Lancashire Volunteer Rifles and encouraged both Rimmer and his brother Robert in...

     (1862–1936)
  • Roland F. Seitz
    Roland F. Seitz
    Roland Forrest Seitz was an American composer, bandmaster, and music publisher. For his many march compositions he earned the sobriquet “The Parade Music Prince”....

     (1867–1946)
    "The Parade Music Prince"
  • John Philip Sousa
    John Philip Sousa
    John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

     (1854–1932)
    "The March King"
  • Carl Albert Hermann Teike (1864–1922)

Famous marches



The following is a list of popular marches from around the world that are frequently performed in the United States. They are in alphabetical order for easy reading.
  • "All Sports March"Robert Farnon
    Robert Farnon
    Robert Joseph Farnon was a Canadian-born composer, conductor, musical arranger and trumpet player. As well as being a famous composer of original works , he was recognised as one of the finest arrangers of his generation...

  • "American Patrol
    American Patrol
    "American Patrol" is a popular march written by F. W. Meacham in 1885. Written originally for piano, it was then arranged for wind band and published by Carly Discher in 1891. Meacham's widow renewed the copyright in 1912. It was later arranged for Glenn Miller's swing band by Jerry Gray in 1941,...

    " - W. Frank Meacham, copyrighted March 30, 1885
  • "Americans We" - Henry Fillmore, published in 1929
  • "Amparito Roca
    Amparito Roca
    Amparito Roca is the name of a piece of music composed in 1925 by Spanish musician and composer Jaime Teixidor who named it after one of his piano students, then 12-year-old Amparito Roca ....

    " - Jaime Teixidor
    Jaime Teixidor
    Jaime Teixidor was born in Barcelona on April 16, 1884 and died in Baracaldo on February 23, 1957. He was a Spanish musician, conductor, publisher, and composer....

    , published in 1925
  • "Anchors Aweigh
    Anchors Aweigh
    "Anchors Aweigh" is the fight song of the United States Naval Academy, and strongly associated with the United States Navy, composed in 1906 by Charles A. Zimmerman with lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles. Zimmerman was at the time a Lieutenant, and had been bandmaster of the United States Naval Academy...

    "Charles A. Zimmerman
    Charles A. Zimmerman
    Charles A. Zimmermann was an American composer of marches and popular music. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, he was appointed bandmaster at the United States Naval Academy in 1887 at the age of 26. He served as the Academy's bandmaster until his death from a brain...

  • "Band of America"Paul Lavalle
    Paul Lavalle
    Paul Lavalle was a conductor, composer, arranger and performer on clarinet and saxophone. He was born Joseph Usifer on September 6, 1908 in Beacon, New York and died in Harrisonburg, Virginia on June 24, 1997....

  • "Bandology" - Eric Osterling
  • "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite" - Karl L. King, composed in 1913
  • "Belgian Paratroopers (Marche des Parachutistes Belges)" – Pierre Leemans
  • "The Big Cage" - Karl L. King, Copyright 1934
  • "Blaze Away!" - Abe Holzmann
  • "The Billboard" - John N. Klohr
  • "Bombasto" - Orion R. Farrar
  • "Boston Commandery March" - Thomas M. Carter
  • "Bravura" - Charles Duble
  • "Brighton Beach" - William Latham
  • "Brooke's Chicago Marine Band" - Roland F. Seitz
  • "The Chicago Tribune" - W. Paris Chambers
    W. Paris Chambers
    William Paris Chambers was an American composer, cornet soloist and bandmaster of the late 19th century....

  • "The Chimes of Liberty" - Edwin F. Goldman
  • "Coat of Arms" - George Kenny
  • "Colossus of Columbia" - Russell Alexander
  • "Colonel Bogey
    Colonel Bogey March
    The "Colonel Bogey March" is a popular march that was written in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts , a British army bandmaster who later became director of music for the Royal Marines at Plymouth...

    " - Kenneth J. Alford
  • "Combination March" - Scott Joplin
    Scott Joplin
    Scott Joplin was an American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions, and was later dubbed "The King of Ragtime". During his brief career, Joplin wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas...

  • "Commando March" - Samuel Barber
    Samuel Barber
    Samuel Osborne Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music...

  • "Coronation March" from Le Prophète
    Le prophète
    Le prophète is an opera in five acts by Giacomo Meyerbeer. The French-language libretto was by Eugène Scribe.-Performance history:...

    - Giacomo Meyerbeer
    Giacomo Meyerbeer
    Giacomo Meyerbeer was a noted German opera composer, and the first great exponent of "grand opera." At his peak in the 1830s and 1840s, he was the most famous and successful composer of opera in Europe, yet he is rarely performed today.-Early years:He was born to a Jewish family in Tasdorf , near...

  • "Crusade for Freedom" - J.J. Richards
  • "Children of the Shrine" - James Swearingen
  • "E Pluribus Unum" - Fred Jewell
  • "El Capitan" - John Philip Sousa
  • "Emblem of Unity" - J.J. Richards
  • "Entry of the Gladiators" (Thunder and Blazes) - Julius Fucik, composed 1897
  • "Fairest of the Fair" - John Philip Sousa
  • "Father of Victory (Le père la victoire)"Louis Ganne
    Louis Ganne
    Louis-Gaston Ganne was a conductor and composer of French operas, operettas, ballets, and marches.-Biography:...

  • "The Footlifter" - Henry Fillmore
  • "The Gallant Seventh" - John Philip Sousa
  • "The Guadalcanal March" - Richard Rodgers
  • "Hands Across the Sea
    Hands Across the Sea
    Hands Across the Sea is a military march composed in 1899 by John Philip Sousa. Sousa told interviewers that the following phrase inspired him to compose the march:"A sudden thought strikes me; let us swear eternal friendship"...

    " - John Philip Sousa, composed 1899
  • "High School Cadets-March" - John Philip Sousa
  • "In Storm and Sunshine" - John C. Heed
  • "Independentia" - Robert B. Hall
  • "Invincible Eagle" - John Philip Sousa
  • "Invercargill March
    Invercargill March
    The "Invercargill March" is a march written by Alex Lithgow and named after his home town of Invercargill, on the South Island of New Zealand.The Invercargill rates alongside John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever", Kenneth Alford's "Colonel Bogey March", and Johann Strauss' "Radetsky...

    " from New Zealand
    New Zealand
    New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

    - Alex F. Lithgow, composed in 1909
  • "The Klaxon" - Henry Fillmore, composed in 1929
  • "Königgrätzer Marsch
    Königgrätzer Marsch
    The Königgrätzer Marsch is a famous German military march composed by Johann Gottfried Piefke after the Battle of Königgrätz, 1866, the decisive battle of the Austro-Prussian War, in which the Kingdom of Prussia defeated the Austrian Empire.It was one of Adolf Hitler's favorite marches and was...

    " - Johann Gottfried Piefke
    Johann Gottfried Piefke
    Johann Gottfried Piefke was a German conductor, Kapellmeister and composer of military music....

  • "The Liberty Bell
    Liberty Bell (march)
    "The Liberty Bell" is an American military march composed by John Philip Sousa.It is now most often associated with the British TV comedy program Monty Python's Flying Circus , which began and ended with the first few bars.-History:...

    " - John Philip Sousa, composed 1893
  • March from A Little Suite - Trevor Duncan
    Trevor Duncan
    Trevor Duncan was an English composer, particularly noted for his light music compositions. Born in London, and largely self-taught, he originally composed as a sideline while working for the BBC...

  • "March Grandioso" - Roland F. Seitz
  • "The Melody Shop
    The Melody Shop
    "The Melody Shop" is one of Karl King's most popular marches and one of the most popular marches of all time. The March is Written in Eb and then Switches to Ab at the Trio. Excerpts of the March are commonly used in auditions for Euphoniums and Baritone Horns auditioning for a spot in a Military...

    " - Karl L. King
  • "Men of Ohio" - Henry Fillmore
  • "The National Emblem" - Edwin E. Bagley
    Edwin Eugene Bagley
    Edwin Eugene Bagley was born in Craftsbury, Vermont on May 29, 1857 and died in Keene, New Hampshire on January 29, 1922. He is famous for composing the National Emblem....

  • "Officer of the Day" - Robert B. Hall
  • "Official West Point March" - Philip Egner
  • "On Parade" - Edwin Franko Goldman
  • "On the Mall" - Edwin Franko Goldman
  • "Onward and Upward" - Edwin Franko Goldman
  • "On the Square" - Frank Panella
  • "On the Quarter Deck" - Kenneth J. Alford
  • "Old Comrades (Alte Kameraden
    Alte Kameraden
    Alte Kameraden is the title of a popular German military march. It is included in the Heeresmarsch as HM II, 150.The march Alte Kameraden was composed around 1889 by the composer of military music Carl Teike in Ulm. Allegedly his superior told him, after Teike presented him the notes, "We have...

    )" - Carl Teike
    Carl Teike
    Carl Albert Hermann Teike was a German composer who wrote over 100 military marches and twenty concert works.-Biography:...

    , composed around 1889
  • "Our Director" - F.E. Bigelow
  • "Pomp and Circumstance
    Pomp and Circumstance Marches
    The "Pomp and Circumstance Marches" , Op. 39 are a series of marches for orchestra composed by Sir Edward Elgar....

    " no. 1 - Edward Elgar
    Edward Elgar
    Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet OM, GCVO was an English composer, many of whose works have entered the British and international classical concert repertoire. Among his best-known compositions are orchestral works including the Enigma Variations, the Pomp and Circumstance Marches, concertos...

  • "Preußens Gloria
    Preußens Gloria
    Preußens Gloria, Armeemarschsammlung II, 240, is a well-known military march of the 19th century. Its composer was Johann Gottfried Piefke ....

    " ("Prussia's Glory") - Johann Gottfried Piefke
  • "The Purple Carnival" - Harry L. Alford
    Harry L. Alford
    Harry L. Alford was an American arranger and composer of band marches.-Early life:Harry LaForrest Alford was born in Hudson, Michigan. His family moved to nearby Blissfield, Michigan two years later. As a boy Harry learned to play the slide trombone, piano, and organ...

  • "The Purple Pageant" - Karl L. King
  • "Radetzky March
    Radetzky March
    Radetzky March, Op. 228, is a march composed by Johann Strauss Sr. in 1848. It was dedicated to the Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz, and became quite a popular march among soldiers....

    " - Johann Strauss Sr.
  • "Repasz Band" - Chas. C. Sweeley
    Harry J. Lincoln
    Harry James Lincoln was a music composer from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Aside from running his own publication company, he wrote many marches and rags, such as the Bees Wax Rag , the Lincoln Highway two step march , and quite possibly the Repasz Band March...

  • "Robinson's Grand Entree" - Karl L. King
  • "Salutation" - Roland F. Seitz
  • "Semper Fidelis" - John Philip Sousa
  • "Semper Paratus
    Semper Paratus (march)
    "Semper Paratus" is the official march of the United States Coast Guard.Semper Paratus is also the official Coast Guard motto...

    " - Francis Saltus Van Boskerck
  • "The Screamer" - Fred Jewell
  • "Second Connecticut Regiment " – D.W. Reeves
  • "Seventy-six Trombones
    Seventy-Six Trombones
    Seventy-six Trombones is the signature song from the musical play The Music Man , which was written by Meredith Willson. This song also appeared in the film The Music Man , and in the made-for-TV movie adaptation in 2003...

    "Meredith Willson
    Meredith Willson
    Robert Meredith Willson was an American composer, songwriter, conductor and playwright, best known for writing the book, music and lyrics for the hit Broadway musical The Music Man...

  • "The Southerner" - Russell Alexander
  • "Stars and Stripes Forever" - John Philip Sousa, composed December 25, 1896
  • "Strike Up the Band
    Strike Up the Band (song)
    "Strike Up the Band" is a 1927 song composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was written for the 1927 musical Strike Up the Band, where it formed part of a satire on war and militaristic music...

    " - George Gershwin
    George Gershwin
    George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known...

     , composed 1932
  • "The Tenth Regiment" - Robert B. Hall
  • "The Thunderer
    The Thunderer
    "The Thunderer" is one of John Philip Sousa's marches. It was written in 1889.The origin of the name is not officially known, though it is speculated that it gets its name from the "pyrotechnic [effects] of the drum and bugle in [the] score."...

    " - John Philip Sousa
  • "Under the Double Eagle (Unter dem Doppeladler)" - Josef F. Wagner
    Josef Wagner (composer)
    Josef Franz Wagner was an Austrian military bandmaster and composer. He is sometimes known by the sobriquet 'The Austrian March King'....

    , composed 1902
  • "The U.S. Air Force
    The U.S. Air Force (song)
    The U.S. Air Force is the official song of the United States Air Force. Written in 1939, it is known informally as "The Air Force Song," and is often referred to informally as "Into the Wild Blue Yonder", "Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder," or simply "Wild Blue Yonder."Originally, the song was...

    " – Robert Crawford
  • "Up the Street" - Robert G. Morse
  • "Washington Grays" - Claudio S. Grafulla
    Claudio S. Grafulla
    Claudio S. Grafulla was a composer in the United States during the 19th Century, most noted for martial music for regimental bands during the early days of the American Civil War....

    , composed in 1861
  • "The Washington Post March" - John Philip Sousa, composed 1889
  • "The White Rose" - John Philip Sousa

Musicality and the march music form


This section discusses the format and other musical aspects of march music.

Meter


The majority of marches are written in duple meter, meaning they have two beats per measure. Only a handful of marches are written otherwise, usually in 4/4, but still using the same tempo (see below).

The following is a list of meters used in marches:
  • 2/2 or cut-time (indicated by a letter "c" with a slash through it. This literally represents common time being cut in half, hence the name "cut time"). Marches written in cut-time have a clear upbeat/downbeat feel. In layman's terms, a cut-time march has a strong "oom-pah" sound to it. Many cut-time marches utilize heavy syncopation to create rhythmic interest. Because passing tones in most cases are shorter, cut-time marches tend to sound "faster" than other marches in a different meter. The most famous cut-time march would probably be Stars and Stripes Forever by Sousa.
  • 6/8 marches are played in two, meaning the dotted-quarter note gets the beat and there are two of them in a measure. If the composer wants a triplet feel to the march, 6/8 is used. In other words, 6/8 marches have a more dance-like swing feel to them, which is more prominent and exaggerated than its cut-time cousin. A 6/8 March can be distinguished immediately by recognizing its common "da-bah-da-bah" or "DA-da-DA-da" sound. The most famous 6/8 March is probably The Washington Post March, also by Sousa.
  • 2/4 is much like cut-time, except that fewer notes appear in a measure, since the quarter note now gets the beat instead of the half note but there are still only two beats per measure. Marches written in 2/4 tend to be for the sake of the performer, as it is, for the most part, easier to read at faster tempos. Many European marches are written in 2/4, and almost all American galops are as well. These galops are played at a very fast tempo, making it sound as if there was one beat to a bar.
  • 4/4 marches are rarely seen, as it is almost pointless to use with a fast tempo. However, some slow marches, such as dirges, utilize 4/4. Robert Jager also uses 4/4 with his popular quick march, "Stars and Bars."

Tempo


The tempo
Tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

 of a marches varies significantly. While most bands perform marches in their own tempo, most marches are quick (faster than a waltz
Waltz
The waltz is a ballroom and folk dance in time, performed primarily in closed position.- History :There are several references to a sliding or gliding dance,- a waltz, from the 16th century including the representations of the printer H.S. Beheim...

, as fast as or slower than a polka
Polka
The polka is a Central European dance and also a genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. It originated in the middle of the 19th century in Bohemia...

). As alluded to before, most march composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

s did not designate a specific tempo on their manuscript
Manuscript
A manuscript or handwrite is written information that has been manually created by someone or some people, such as a hand-written letter, as opposed to being printed or reproduced some other way...

s. However, that is not to say the march music composer is random with his/her tempo while conducting the march. For example, John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

 conducted his marches using around 120 beat
Beat (music)
The beat is the basic unit of time in music, the pulse of the mensural level . In popular use, the beat can refer to a variety of related concepts including: tempo, meter, rhythm and groove...

s per minute
Minute
A minute is a unit of measurement of time or of angle. The minute is a unit of time equal to 1/60th of an hour or 60 seconds. In the UTC time scale, a minute on rare occasions has 59 or 61 seconds; see leap second. The minute is not an SI unit; however, it is accepted for use with SI units...

. Most Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an march composers, however, conducted their marches in a slower style, using around 100 beats per minute. There are, however, many and notable exceptions: see concert march
Concert march
A concert march is a march specifically composed for a concert band or brass band . See march music....

 and screamer
Screamer (march)
A screamer is a descriptive name for a circus march, in particular, an upbeat march intended to stir up the audience during the show.- History :...

.

Key


For the sake of band performers, especially altos, marches are typically written in flat keys. The keys of Concert F, Bb, Eb, and Ab are the most frequently used. (NOTE: These refer to the key the march begins in, not the modulated key in the trio (see below).

March music form


Most marches follow a fairly strict structure. This structure is known as the march music form. The march music form's origins can be derived from the sonata form
Sonata form
Sonata form is a large-scale musical structure used widely since the middle of the 18th century . While it is typically used in the first movement of multi-movement pieces, it is sometimes used in subsequent movements as well—particularly the final movement...

, as it shares similar ideas of contrasting sections.
The true march music form was not utilized until the start of the march music era, and was eventually standardized by none other than John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

.
While the march music form varies tremendously amongst different styles of the march, all marches must have the following:
  • Different sections, called strains.
  • Several separate melodies.
  • A contrasting section known as the trio.


The following two march forms are the most popular and frequently used by march music composers.

Military march form


The military march can be heavily credited to John Philip Sousa. He is said to have standardized the military march form, and it is used in over half of his marches.
  • The first section is called the Introduction (I) or fanfare
    Fanfare
    A Fanfare is a relatively short piece of music that is typically played by trumpets and other brass instruments often accompanied by percussion...

     and is either 4, 8, or 16 bars long. The introduction is typically played in marcato
    Marcato
    Marcato is a musical instruction indicating a note, chord, or passage is to be played louder or more forcefully than surrounding music. The instruction may involve the word marcato itself written above or below the staff or it may take the form of an accent mark, ^ , an open vertical wedge...

     style, typically using forte dynamics to catch the attention of the listener. The intro is almost never not used in a march. Examples without an intro include Bugles and Drums and the Footlifter. Compared to the other sections of a march, the introduction is usually the shortest part. Most introductions utilize chromatic scales and contrary motion counterpoint. This is discussed below. The introduction is commonly based on the V chord for the purpose of creating tension which naturally leads into the next section (See Harmonic Progressions below). The intro isn't generally repeated, but examples where it is are Bravura, Rifle Regiment, and Washington Grays. The introduction generally starts in major, but examples where it doesn't are the Gladiator, the Picadore, the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Rolling Thunder, and Hands Across the Sea' 'Click here to listen to the introduction of "The Thunderer" by John Philip Sousa. Sound clips are in MIDI format.

  • The next section is commonly called the first strain, as it is the first prominent melody of the march. The first strain is typically 8 or 16 bars long with 4-measure phrases. The first strain can be in either major or minor mode and can use any variety of dynamics, instrumentation and modulations. Typically this strain utilizes similar motifs in its phrases, and it sounds more rhythmically straightforward than the next section. After the first playing of the strain, it is repeated once, sometimes with added parts such as counter-melodies. Sometimes, the first strain is played again once after the second strains have been played, particularly if the first strain is in minor. Karl King was the main composer who did this, and Fillmore also did so with his trombone smears. Examples include Peacemaker March, New York Hippodrome, Caravan Club March, Trombone King, Lassus Trombone, Royal Decree, and Price's March of Youth

  • The second strain is usually 16 bars long and is the second primary melody of the march. However, in marches like Solid Men to the Front, and also Sousa's Untitled March, the second strain is 32 bars in length. Marches that commonly have the first playing of the second strain quiet and the second loud include The Stars and Stripes Forever, His Honor, The Washington Post, Hands Across the Sea, On the Mall, and a load of others, particularly by Sousa. This strain may use somewhat different instrumentation or may alter the relative dynamics of the different parts. The melody of the second strain is normally played with the basses (low brass and low woodwinds). In terms of phrasing, it also uses 4-measure phrases, but with more varied motifs. This makes the second strain's melodies sound more "stretched out." For example, many second strains utilize more whole notes than the first strain. For a good example, listen to Stars and Stripes Forever. The second strain is usually repeated once like the first, but some marches, for example, Emblem of Freedom, Cyrus the Great, the Melody Shop, and a few others, omit this repeat.

  • In some marches, a short introduction to the trio is heard. This introduction to the trio can be a repeat of the first introduction, a whole new separate melody played by the whole band, a fanfare by the brasses, or a percussion soli (drum rolloff). "Semper Fidelis" by Sousa, for example, has this. Another example of Trio Introduction is found in Twin Eagle Strut by Zane Van Auken.
  • The third (or technically fourth or fifth) primary melody in a march is called the trio. The trio is described as the main melody of the march. It is often played legato style in a softer dynamic, and features woodwinds more than brass. Sousa often used clarinets and euphoniums in lower tenor register in his trios. The trio is the most contrasting section, often containing variations of motifs heard in the previous two strains. The trio melody is often repeated once at a softer dynamic, or not repeated at all and goes right to the next section. Generally, it is played quietly for the first (or second) playthrough, then the next has a piccolo playing over the trio melody, and in the final playthrough, it is loud. In almost all cases, the trio modulates to the subdominant key of the march, meaning one flat is added to the key signature. Again, this is for the purpose of contrast and makes the trio more memorable to the listener. The fact that the key is now flatter also offers a more relaxing feel for those trios with softer instrumentation. For marches starting in minor keys, the trio usually modulates to the relative major. This key is maintained to the end of the piece.


  • Next comes the breakstrain or breakup strain (sometimes called the dogfight or interlude), making it the 4th main melody heard. This strain is loud, intense, and marcato. The break strain's purpose can be found in its title. The breakstrain literally breaks a gap between the trio sections. It offers contrast to the usually softer trio melodies and generates excitement for the listener. Most breakstrains resemble a conversation between the upper woodwinds and the low brass. The final measures of the breakstrain typically contain tension-building chords or chromatic motifs. The breakstrain is usually 16 bars long, but marches such as The Washington Post and The Interlochen Bowl have 8 bar breakstrains. On the Mall has a twelve bar breakstrain, as does The Purple Pageant. Hands Across the Sea and The Thunderer have 16 bar breakstrains. Marches with 20 bar breakstrains include Fairest of the Fair and Invincible Eagle. The Stars and Stripes Forever in fact has a twenty-four bar breakstrain.
  • After the breakstrain, the trio is heard again, either for one last time or and the 2nd (or third) time. If the trio after the breakstrain is the last, it is usually played in the same style as the first trio. Sometimes this trio has added counter-melodies or obbligatos. After this trio, the breakstrain is played again, then moves on to the final trio. The final trio is known as the grandioso. It is typically much louder than the previous playing(s) of the trio and utilizes all sections of the band, bringing everything to a close. The grandioso is considered the most exciting section of the march and serves the purpose of instilling the trio melody into the mind of the listener. The grandioso sometimes adds yet another counter-melody or obbligato, such as the one in Stars and Stripes Forever. The last measure of the march sometimes contains a stinger, a I chord played in unison on the upbeat after a quarter rest. Most, but not all, marches carry a stinger; the Semper Fidelis
    Semper fidelis
    Semper Fidelis is Latin for "Always Faithful" or "Always Loyal". Well known in the United States as the motto of the United States Marine Corps , Semper Fidelis has served as a slogan for many families and entities, in many countries, dated to have been started no later than the 16th century...

    march is a famous march not to have an ending stinger (when not recapitulated back to the beginning of the march - see below). Most marches end at the volume forte (loud), but an example that doesn't is Sousa's Manhattan Beach, which ends fading away.
  • In some military marches, such as "U.S. Field Artillery" by John Philip Sousa, there is only one playing of the breakstrain, resulting in only two "playings" of the trio. Apart from On the Mall, the Chimes of Liberty, and a couple of others, Goldman's marches in the military form only had two playings of the trio.

Therefore, the military march form is this:
I-AA-BB-C(C)-Br-C-Br-C(Grandioso)
  • Examples of military marches include Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa, Barnum and Bailey's Favorite by Karl L. King, and On the Mall by Edwin F. Goldman

"Regimental" march form


Another popular (and perhaps older) march style is the regimental march, or review march. There are a few key differences between a typical military march and a regimental march.
  • The introduction, first strain, and second strain are typically that of a military march. However, some utilize a much longer introduction.
  • Instead of a breakstrain after the trio, a regimental march has a completely new strain (D), which still uses the modulated key. This strain has similar characteristics of a second strain and is almost always repeated once.
  • Because the regimental march is considerably shorter than a military march (due to its lack of a third trio repeat and breakstrain), it is often played by marching bands in parades (hence the name "review march").


Therefore, the "regimental" march form is this:
I-AA-BB-CC-DD
  • Examples of "regimental" marches include Semper Fidelis by John Philip Sousa (when not recapitulated back to the beginning of the march - see below), Men of Ohio by Henry Fillmore, Bugles and Drums by Goldman, and Robinson's Grand Entry by Karl L. King.

Other forms and styles

  • Some marches, typically those written specifically for marching and/or youth bands, have no breakstrain or 'D' section at all. They simply have one repeat of the trio (typically in the grandioso style), and then the march ends (Form: I-AA-BB-CC). Examples of these marches include "Our Director" by F.E. Bigelow and "Gallant Marines" by Karl L. King. Karl King and Henry Fillmore often used this style in their marches. John Philip Sousa rarely used this style.
  • Many earlier and European marches recapitulate back to the beginning of the march. These marches typically did not use the Military March Form, but rather a shorter form such as the one directly above or the regimental march form. In other words, after either the final trio, or 'D' section, the march would start over again. Once it has done that, repeats are ignored, and ends after the second strain. Codas are rare, but sometimes used as well, for example in "Riders for the Flag" by Sousa and "Children of the Shrine" by James Swearingen. The tradition of recapitulating marches ended at the start of the march music era. For example, John Philip Sousa abandoned this technique with all of his marches, except for "On Parade," one of Sousa's few circus marches. In fact, only Victor Herbert was one of the last American composers who still used recapitulation during the march music era. Examples of these marches include "Under the Double Eagle" by Wagner and "The Serenade" by Victor Herbert.

Phrasing


The basic (and vague) definition of a march is a piece of music based upon a regular repeated drum/rhythmic pattern. Therefore, what makes a march recognizable is its phrases. Almost all quickstep marches consist of four-measure phrases, typical ending with a whole note either creating or resolving melodic tension (see Progressions) followed by a pickup note (see Pickups). It can be said that this rather "basic" framework is what makes marches melodically "pleasing." Some marches have more noticeable phrases than others. Karl King's marches, for example, have very clear-cut phrases with said whole notes and pickups. John Philip Sousa, however, tended to use practically seamless phrasing.

Chords and harmonic progression


The harmonic progressions of American march music are well-grounded in the archetypal harmonic techniques of the times in which they were written.

Consider "Semper Fidelis" by John Philip Sousa. The following is the chord progression. Note, each barred section represents one measure, for a total of 16 measures.
  • |G7| |G7| |C| |C| |G7| |G7| |C| |C| |G7| |G7| |C| |C|G7/B| |G| |G| |D7| |G7|

"Semper Fidelis"'s first strain begins with a very simple V-I progression, creating a wave-like sense of tension and relief. Note its use of dominant seven chords to make the V chord stronger. This extension is used in many marches. Towards the end, however, the progression gets more harmonically interesting. In the middle of the measure before the trumpet "fanfare," the chord alters to C#dim7 instead of remaining on C as before. Because it leads to a G7 chord rather than a D minor chord, this is an example of a common-tone diminished seventh chord. This chord "leads" into the V chord (G), which is then followed by a D7 chord. A D chord in the key of C would be the ii chord, and all ii chords must be minor. However, the D chord in this case is not minor. Rather, it is known as a secondary dominant, in which a dominant chord is borrowed from another key, hence "secondary dominant." A secondary dominant naturally leads into a chord other than the first (I chord). In this case, it leads into the V (G7).

The following is the chord progression of the second strain. Note, each barred section represents one measure, for a total of 16 measures.
  • |C| |F|G7| |C| |C| |G7| |G7| |C| |C|G7| |C| |F|E7| |Am| |Ab7| |C| |C| |G| |C|


As with most second strains, this one features more rapidly changing chords. Note the use of the IV chord, used in marches to create a very "uplifting" and lyrical sound which will tend to resolve back to the I chord or proceed into the V chord, as it does here. At measure ten, where it restates the main theme, Sousa uses a rather "deceptive" chord change. Instead of using F to G7 to C as he did in measures two and three, it goes from the IV (F) to the V7/VI (E7, secondary dominant), to the VI (Am). The main melodic theme uses the same notes, but revolves around a different harmonic progression, resulting in greater chordal interest (less repetitive). Sousa then uses his trademark chromatic accented chord (Ab7; note that it is a half-step below the previous chord) to create a "wall of tension" that quickly resolves into the I chord.

Another "accented" chromatic chord frequently used by march music composers is an inversion of a I chord with a lowered third and raised fifth. For example, if there was an Eb major chord (the I in the key of Eb), it would be followed by a B major chord (because a B chord is an Eb chord with a lowered third and raised fifth). Unlike the aforementioned secondary dominants, this chord really does not have logical harmonic functions to it (besides neighbor tone usage) other than to add texture and interest.

In summary:
  • Most marches use seemingly simple chord progressions, for the sake of sounding melodically pleasing, however...
  • March composers will often complement their marches with interesting chords and chord changes, such as the use of chromatic harmonies, sevenths extensions, and secondary dominants.

Difficulty


The actual difficulty of performance is considerably varied amongst marches. Because marches were some of the first music to be written for grade school bands (which were just becoming prominent throughout the country), many marches are fairly modest in difficulty. However, given the fact that many composers wrote marches for their own band (typically a professional community or circus band), some require almost virtuoso skill to perform. Many conductors note that any march is difficult to play "perfectly," with all correct expressions, articulation, and steady tempo.
The following difficulty grading system is adapted from Norman Smith's "March Music Notes."
  • Grade 1: Minimum difficulty. Suited for beginner bands who are first approaching music. May even be a simple etude or ditty from an instructional book.
  • Grade 2: Also for beginner bands, but more developed, usually with different notes and rhythms. Instrumental ranges are comfortable, and most require minimal endurance. Some follow the standard march form, but most are abbreviated, or in a more concert march form.
  • Grade 3: The standard march difficulty. Usually in full march form, this difficulty requires moderate technique and endurance skills. Instrumental range is usually intermediate (trumpets going up to a high G, no ledger line), and most likely will contain chromatic notes, obbligatos, and counter-melodies. Many Grade 3s are used in actual parade marching. Examples of Grade 3 marches would be "The Thunderer" and "The National Emblem."
  • Grade 4: Moderately difficult. Typical high school bands will find this grade requiring a considerable amount of practice/rehearsal. Grade 4s will contain many technically challenging parts and some syncopation. They also tend to require a strict, complete ensemble for proper performance, as they may contain intricate harmonies and counter-melodies. Examples of Grade 4 marches would be "Stars and Stripes Forever" and "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite."
  • Grade 5: Considerably difficult. Usually originally written for professional, virtuoso band members, such as those in a circus band. Therefore, many Grade 5s are Screamers. They are guaranteed to contain woodwind obbligatos or chromatic runs and test the range of any player (high C's for trumpets). May have very quick tempos, as well as complicated rhythms and syncopation. Examples of Grade 5 marches would be "Entry of the Gladiators", "The Washington Grays", and "Battle of Shiloh".
  • Grade 6: A rare difficulty. Usually a Grade 6 is found in a greater piece of work such as a symphony, where it can contain mixed meters, intricate rhythms, and harmonies.

Instrumentation


A general instrumentation setup used originally for American marches would be very difficult to explain, as most bands were extremely varied in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As stated before, most of the standard march music was written for the composer's band. Whether that be the Sousa, Ringling Bros., or Gilmore, every band typically had marches written by their conductor in repertoire. With that said, most marches were also written in a very specific instrumentation. For example, many composers simply wrote a piano version of the march, and it was up to the publisher to arrange separate parts for concert band, orchestra, etc.

Assignments and roles of instrument sections


There are some generalities that can be made pertaining to what role a section of a concert band holds in a typical march. Examples:
Trumpets/cornets almost always carry the melody. They also tend to be scored various "flourishes" and "calls" for effect.
Clarinets, piccolos, and flutes also tend to carry the melody, but often are assigned obbligatos and other various integral lines.
French Horns tend to always carry the rhythmic backup of a march. For example, in cut-time marches, they are typically assigned upbeats (the + of 1 and 2) to provide the "pah" for the stylistic "oom-pah" sound. In 6/8 marches, French horns play on beat 1, the 'li' of 1, beat 2, and the 'li' of 2 (1-la-li 2-la-li). In other words, the measure would be one eighth note, then an eighth rest, then two eighth notes, an eighth rest, then a final eighth note.

Media



External links

  • Air Force Link - March Music, Downloadable recordings of marches performed by the US Air Force Bands (page archived by the Wayback Machine
    Wayback Machine
    The Wayback Machine is a digital time capsule created by the Internet Archive non-profit organization, based in San Francisco, California. It is maintained with content from Alexa Internet. The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time, which the Archive calls a "three...

    )
  • ForgottenAmericanMusic.com, information and recordings of music by James M. Fulton
  • KarlKing.us, including circus marches by one of America's March Kings