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Why I Love a Parade - Drums & Bugles Around the World

Updated on May 12, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Yankee Doodle

Fife & drum leading troops into battle in 1776. (All photos on this page public domain unless otherwise credited.)
Fife & drum leading troops into battle in 1776. (All photos on this page public domain unless otherwise credited.)

Moving Feet and Moving Music

Do you love parades?

Don't miss all the videos of marching bands and corps around the world, below, including South Korea.

Whether it's a military review, the field entrance of many drum and bugle corps at the opening of competition week, or a New Orleans funeral procession moving down the boulevard with a Dixie Land Band, the music and the movement entrance me. Each event is like a river of music that fills the street and transports me to a different place.

The first parade I recall as a child was a televised Thanksgiving Day Parade with Santa Claus. In animate floats and balloon characters did not make much of an impression on my young mind, but the performances of scenes from popular thearical productions strongly grabbed by attention. Then, the marching bands appeared and placed me into a complete state of awe. The music, the counds of the various instruments, and marching feet and the flash of twirled trumpets, batons, and drumsticks would not release me. In the 5th grade, music teachers suggested I learn to play a violin or a clarinet, but only the brass section and drums resonated with me. Finally, I was able to gain band membership in the 7th grade.

Since that time, I have most enjoyed local summer performances of military bands, including the US Navy Band, in our city's Music In the Air series. Discovering the innovative, energetic marching band world of the colleges featured in the film Drumline has been a big treat as well. At the same time, the groups that grab my attention most firmly are the drum and bugle corps, of which The Phantom Regiment is one of my favorites (see video below).

The Old Guard Honors General Washington's Continental Army

1st US Military Band 07/11/1798

The US Marine Band as they play in the White House,  Cross Hall in 1988.
The US Marine Band as they play in the White House, Cross Hall in 1988.

John Phillip Sousa

John Philip Sousa marching in front of the Great Lakes Navy Band.
John Philip Sousa marching in front of the Great Lakes Navy Band.

From Santa to Sousa

Our middle school band together asked our music teacher if we might learn how to march as a musical unit and he agreed. He took us out onto the grassy land beside the school and taught us how to march in time in formations to drum cadences we had heard on national television during funeral processions of leaders of state in the previous months. Somehow, the lead drummer strapped the heavy orchestra bass drum to himself and managed to lead the tempo and formation. He was only 13 years old. The event was a unique learning experience that had never before been offered in the school.

In high school, I was given the opportunity of participating in the marching band and awarded a position as first chair and soloist on cornet/trumpet. I also learned to play a bit on French Horn, which I adore, but I could not manage a trombone - and to this day, I can only make a clarinet sqeak and squeal, but I can play some tunes on a flutes.

We learned a number of John Phillip Sousa Marches to perform during high school football half time shows, in parades, and in concert. Annually, several of us in the band and orchestra looked forward to participating in a huge citywide spring music festival. Not only did we perform and listen to other high quality high school bands, orchestras, choral groups; but we also were treated to professional jazz bands in which our teachers performed. Outshining all of this, hwoever, was the excellent performance of a choir containing two hundred Kindergartners. This was not the usual off-key nursery rhyme with hand movements, but the performance of an entire hgiher-level song with melody and harmonies. How the magician of a woman leading that group worked such a wonder, I will never know.

Not the British Redcoats

The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps belkings to the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer, Va and commemorates General Geroge Washington's Continental Army, which wore red coats.
The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps belkings to the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer, Va and commemorates General Geroge Washington's Continental Army, which wore red coats.
The US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps on the South Lawn of the White House in 2008. The Corps performs at all armed-forces arrival ceremonies for visiting dignitaries and heads of state, and has participated in every Presidential Inaugural Parade
The US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps on the South Lawn of the White House in 2008. The Corps performs at all armed-forces arrival ceremonies for visiting dignitaries and heads of state, and has participated in every Presidential Inaugural Parade

Spirit from Sousa to the South

Since that time, I have most enjoyed local summer performances of military bands, including the US Navy Band, in our city's Music In the Air series. Discovering the innovative, energetic marching band world of the colleges featured in the film Drumline has been a big treat as well. At the same time, the groups that grab my attention most firmly are the drum and bugle corps, of which The Phantom Regiment is one of my favorites (see video below).

Another corps, although I have forgotten their name, kept me transfixed one stormy night, however. On a national competition night, this Southern US drum and bugle corps had presented itself smartly and begun a high precision, very entertaining show. Shortly after beginning their performance, a tremendous storm began and the power went out completely in the stadium. Not one of them so much as flinching, the members of this corps completed their entire marching perfromance - even forming pictures with their formations - to a standing ovation and the heavy downpour stopped after their last note.

The crowd roared! (Note that there was no lightning to endanger the corps). Those of us not under cover did not leave, but remained, got drenched, and rose to applaud their spirit.

Now THAT'S a good marching "band"!

The Phantom Regiment

Civil War Drummer Boys

Orion P. Howe, Drummer Boy

Orion P. Howe, drummer boy, Medal of Honor awardee in the Civil War, 1863.
Orion P. Howe, drummer boy, Medal of Honor awardee in the Civil War, 1863.

When did the marching band begin?

Armies at war have long been drummed into battle by a drummer boy and I believe that this was the simplest beginning of the modern marching band, aside from possible artistic and military units of ancient times. Drumming set time for rowers of ancient Egyptian barges. Drummers also set cadences for Asian military drills. I think the drum is the foundation of it all.

The battle drum was joined by a fife and the national colors (flag) and a marching section was born of war.

Additional musical instruments were added to the fife and drum to produce an American military band in 1798: The President's Own United States Marine Band (see photo above). All other branches of the military followed with their own bands and many began choral units as well, which perform with the bands and on their own around the country and the globe. The the bands began marching and performing in military reviews and then in public parades, followed by outdoor and indoor concerts.

Colleges and high schools began producing marching bands as well as student concert bands and orchestras, and the drum & bugle corps became a specialized version of this outgrowth. The corps is often a community group open to youth from middle and high school through age 21 or so and they depend on charitable giving to maintain their existence. The successful corps is full of hard working players and families, full of indomitable spirit, and dedicated to improving the community through music.

They are heroes to me.

Old Guard Drum Line

Variations On a Theme Among Marching Groups

Swiss Army Drumline

S. Korea Army Band in Basel, Switzerland 2008

Korean Army Band 2008

Greensboro Music Miracle

Pernell Briggs, Gerald Tharrington, Timothy Bryant & Daryl Spellman in 1982.

In the video offered to the right, we have the 4 young adults that changed Black high school and college drumlines across America. In fact, some white drumlines have learned their style as well. Even S. Korean Military bands caught the idea (see below). All from Durham, NC they all went to Hillside High School, followed by North Carolina A&T State University, the school on which that in the film Drumline is based.

In 1982, these 4 people and their drumming performance won 2nd Place in an all-white talent show in Greensboro. Music can transcend race and age issues, thankfully.

These 4 men joined the A & T Marching Band of 1984-1985 and offered their skills to the Cold Steel Drumline. With the rest of the drumline, they together developed the techniques and style enjoyed by large crowds today. The worlds of the marching band and drum and bugle corps owes them a major never-ending debt.

The Original NC Drumline

"Hip Hop" - Korean Military Band at the Korea War Memorial.

Other Important Marching Bands

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Royal Australian Navy Band perform with the US Pacific Fleet Band at Peral harbor in 2008.Jazz Trumpeter Clark Terry and the Great Lakes Navy Band Jazz Ensemble in 2002. Terry played in the all-star Navy band at Great Lakes 1941 - 1945 as one of the first Black members.Topaz, Utah in 1942: This former boy scout unit became a community drum & bugle corps.
The Royal Australian Navy Band perform with the US Pacific Fleet Band at Peral harbor in 2008.
The Royal Australian Navy Band perform with the US Pacific Fleet Band at Peral harbor in 2008.
Jazz Trumpeter Clark Terry and the Great Lakes Navy Band Jazz Ensemble in 2002. Terry played in the all-star Navy band at Great Lakes 1941 - 1945 as one of the first Black members.
Jazz Trumpeter Clark Terry and the Great Lakes Navy Band Jazz Ensemble in 2002. Terry played in the all-star Navy band at Great Lakes 1941 - 1945 as one of the first Black members.
Topaz, Utah in 1942: This former boy scout unit became a community drum & bugle corps.
Topaz, Utah in 1942: This former boy scout unit became a community drum & bugle corps.

Massed Pipe Band 3rd Assam Rifles

Sikh Light Infantry & Sikh Regiment

Last Call

© 2009 Patty Inglish MS

Comments and Cadences

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Yes I have, and I look forward to your Hubs!

    • Coyoterainmaker profile image

      Coyoterainmaker 

      6 years ago from Kenilworth. Warwickshire. England

      Patty

      Perhaps like you, I have always been attracted to the beat of a musical group and with me it was always the bass sound of the drum. I had never taken the opportunity to take part in anything other than a group in my teens, bass guitar.

      That is until the weekend of the 11th-12th Feb this year when I had the opportunity of being part of a taiko drumming group. I've written a hub about Day 1 and am completing Day 2 now.

      Have you seen taiko in action?

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Deanna992 - I have SEEN the Blue Knights! Yayyyyy! Thanks for your performances and the hard work behind them. You give me something to look forward to.

    • Deanna992 profile image

      Deanna992 

      6 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      This was wonderful!! I'm a member of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps and when I get on the field in front of stands full of people it's the people like you that I'm playing for. You make the summers great for me. The best moments in life are when I'm somebody's hero--you have no idea how much of an honor it is. Thank you.

    • profile image

      musiced13 

      7 years ago

      If I'm not mistaken, the first organized parade marching band as we might recognize them was put together for the 1st inaugural parade for Grover Cleveland. Up to this point, no whole band had actually marched in a parade as a style of performance. Great post!

    • talfonso profile image

      talfonso 

      8 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      I love bands so much I even wrote a compare/contrast Hub on concert and marching bands! Kudos to your educational Hub, pal!

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Very interesting and I certainly haven't thought of marching bands since high school.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for all the comments!

      skgrao - I think I found a couple good ones and will post.

    • skgrao profile image

      S K G Rao. 

      9 years ago from Bangalore City - INDIA.

      Please post Video's of Military Bands of India.

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 

      9 years ago

      sounds like fun :)

      great article :)

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thanks for very educational and exciting hub. creativeone59

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