Military Band
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Military Band
A massed group of military bands from several countries, at the 2011 Berlin Military Tattoo

A military band is 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 bands 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. 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.

Some police forces have their own police bands that provide similar function to a military band.


Depiction of the Ottoman military band in 1720. The notion of a military band originates from the Ottomans.

11th century book Divânu Lügati't-Türk mentions a prototype of the Mehtaran, as a "nevbet", 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 the 1670s 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 oboe (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]

Functions and duties

A Tajik military band with Karnays at a military tattoo at Zhurihe Training Base in the Chinese autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, 2014

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 parades, military review, military tattoos, public relations, and 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.

Military bands in Africa


Cameroonian and American military band members in Douala, March 2015

Cameroonian military bands solely follows the French precedent for military music and military bands. The Yaoundé based Principal Music Band of the Cameroonian Armed Forces under the baton of Captain Florent Essimbi is the main military band of the country. The band was founded in 1959, a year before Cameroon gained its independence, as purely a brass band company. Because of its increase in musicians it was upgraded to a musical section 10 years later. It has retained its current name since 2004. The band currently and has previously relyed on its cooperation with the French Military and specifically its connections to musicians from the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Lyon.


Nigerian military bands follow the British Household Division format and are heavily influenced and aided by British military bands. Over the years, however, the Nigerian Armed Forces have taken enormous steps to indigenize military bands due to the overuse of American and British military music and the exposure of the military to Nigerian art. Some of these steps include the establishment of the Nigerian Army School of Music (NASM) and the creation of new military music.[9] Nigerian military bands are today under the command of the Headquarters of the Nigerian Armed Forces in Abuja. The Nigerian Army Band Corps (NABC), which provides official military records for the armed forces, is the seniormost band in the Nigerian Army and in the armed forces. The following bands come under the direct command of the Nigerian Armed Forces:[10]

  • Nigerian Army Band Corps
  • Nigerian Police Band - This band considered to be the pioneer military band formation in the country, being established in 1892. Being mostly composed of buglers at the time of its founding, the band was originally composed of British servicemen, rather than native Nigerians.
  • Nigerian Air Force Band - This band is the most was the most recent military band to be founded, being founded in 1970. Enlisted musicians only joined a year later, and did not have its first director of music until 1975.
  • Nigerian Navy Band - It was founded in 1963 only months before Nigeria became a republic. It was founded at a time when the country's military needed musical support for ceremonial events.
  • Nigerian Defence Academy Band
  • Nigerian Army School of Music (NASM)


A Senegalese Timpini player in the Red Guard of Senegal

Like Cameroon and Niger, the Armed Forces of Senegal follows the French military band format in all of its musical formations. The Mounted Squadron of the Red Guard of Senegal, being the premier ceremonial unit of its 1st Infantry Regiment, maintains a 35-member mounted fanfare band similar to that of the French Republican Guard. The mounted band leads the reset of the squadron in military parades and ceremonial processions in the capital of Dakar. Band musicians ride on white horses whose tails dyed red to match the official colors of the Red Guard.

The Armed Forces of Senegal is represented by a joint services band which, unlike the Red Guard mounted band, has a repertoire of a mix between Senegalese folk and classical music. This band was created in 1961 at the time of the founding of the armed forces and the independence of the country. the main music of the Senegalese armed forces was at the time formed by a majority of newly recruited young people with no musical knowledge. It was then necessary to count on the captain Jean Avignon who directed, for 12 years, the main music band of the nabal troops in Paris for the formation of the elements of Senegal. The Senegalese Gendarmerie also maintains its own fanfare band.[11]

Military bands in the Americas

Given the history of the military forces in Americas, the military band heritage in this part of the world is a mix of various traditions, primarily drawn from Europe. Countries in the Americas belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations are generally modelled after their British counterparts. Trinidad and Tobago takes this tradition a bit further with the use of steelpans in its bands. Military bands throughout Latin America draws influence from the military bands found in France, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Spain. However, Haiti remains the only state in the region, whose military bands are primarily modelled after the French.


Argentina has longstanding connections with Germany, and their army bands reflect these traditional links. At the beginning of the 20th century, there was an exchange of marches between the Imperial German Army and the Argentinean Army: Germans gave Argentinians Alte Kameraden, while Argentinians gave Germans the Marcha de San Lorenzo, which was used in 1940 during the victory parade on the Champs Elysées following the defeat of France. 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.

Three bands belong to the oldest cavalry, artillery and infantry regiments of the Argentine Army, use band formations modeled on German and Italian traditions.

The Alto Peru Fanfare Band of the Argentine Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers is an all-brass mounted band.
  • The Alto Peru Fanfare Band of the Argentine Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers is an all-brass mounted band using the same brass and percussion instruments mentioned above. The ceremonial uniform design dates from 1813, and this band serves the President of Argentina.
  • The Tambor de Tacuari Band is the "Regiment of Patricians's regimental band. This regiment is the oldest and most prestigious Argentinean infantry regiment. Musicians wear the 1806 regulation uniform originally worn by the regiment, when it was raised in response to the British attack on Buenos Aires. The Patricios formally represent the Federal Capital as its honor band.
  • The Ituzaingó Band of the 1st Artillery Regiment "Brigadier General Tomas de Iriarte" is the official honor band of the Argentine Ministry of Defense. The band wears uniforms worn by Argentine gunners during the Argentina-Brazil War and later conflicts, with pith helmets as headdress.

Another notable band of the Argentinian Army is the Mounted Band of the 4th Armoured Cavalry Regiment "General Lavalle's Cuirassiers". They wear uniforms similar to those of the French Republican Guard Cavalry and 19th-century cuirassier units. This band uses the same brass and percussion instruments mentioned above, when either mounted or dismounted. Other bands in the Army include:

  • Band of the Colegio Militar de la Nación
  • Band of the Army NCO School "Sergeant Cabral"
  • Band of the General Jose de San Martin Military Academy
  • Band of the General Manuel Belgrano Military Academy
  • Band of the 16th Infantry Regiment "Andes Rifles"
  • Band of the 10th Armored Cavalry Regiment "Pueyrredón Hussars"
  • Band of the 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment "Blandengues"
  • Band of the 5th Light Cavalry Regiment "General Martin de Güemes"
  • Band of the 22nd Mountain Infantry Regiment "Lieutenant Colonel Juan Manuel Cabot"

The Argentine Navy fields the Navy Staff Band, the Band of the Argentine Naval Academy and the Band of the Argentine Navy NCO School. Representing the Argentine Air Force are the Band of the Argentine Air Force Academy, the Band of the Argentine Air Force NCO Academy and the 1st Air Brigade Band.

Military-styled police bands are present in both the Argentine National Gendarmerie and the Argentine Naval Prefecture.


The Barbados Defence Force Band (also known as the Zouave Band), is an element of the reserve units that is composed of members of The Barbados Regiment and the Barbados Coast Guard. The band is currently directed by Director of Music, Lieutenant Brian Cole. The musicians mainly range in ages between 18 and 50 years old and performs several types of music from light classics to Barbadian calypso. The BDF Band traces its history back to the West India Regiment Band, which is considered to be the precursor to Caribbean military bands. A full band was raised in 1978 as the Band and Drums of the Barbados Regiment and was fully resuscitated in 1987 for the occasion of the Trooping the Colour parade in Barbados. It remained active until the early 90s, and after a brief hiatus, the band was again revived as the Barbados Defence Force Band.[12]


In Bolivia, the use of the Turkish crescent with the addition of vertical banners and standards is standard practice in its military bands (only the Bolivian Navy fields bagpipers and fanfare trumpeters in its bands, the latter being the case of the band of the Bolivian Colorados Regiment which uses them).


Since the late 1940s the Brazilian Marine Pipes, Drum and Bugle Corps uses brass (formerly bugles) and percussion instruments, as well as bagpipes and fifes. They represent both the Brazilian Marine Corps and the Brazilian Navy in all activities it participates. Its formation mirrors Portuguese and Italian military band traditions, as well as those of the United States drum and bugle corps of the early 20th century. The Brazilian Marine Corps also fields for public duties the Brasilia Marine Corps Band and the Central Band of the Marine Corps.

Other military bands include those of the Presidential Guard Battalion, the Independence Dragoons, and the Brazilian Air Force Academy Band. The band for the Presidential Guard Battalion is the only band in the Brazilian Army to include both a pipe band section and a drum corps. Personnel from the Presidential Guard Battalion Band form part of the newly formed Army Marching Band and Pipes and Drums, formed in 2016.


The band of the Royal 22nd Regiment at the Citadelle of Quebec, in 2018. The band is one of 59 bands in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Years of French and later British rule made their imprint in the creation of the Canadian military band tradition. The Band Branch of the Canadian Armed Forces is composed of six full-time bands of the Regular Force, and 53 part-time bands of the Primary Reserve. These bands serve the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The Band Branch includes both concert bands, made up of brass, percussions, and woodwind instruments; and pipe and drum bands, formerly the Branch provided corps of drums and drum and bugle corps for ceremonial duties.

In addition to the bands of the Regular Force and Primary Reserve, the Royal Military College of Canada also maintains a pipe and drum bands. The Canadian Cadet Organizations, a youth program sponsored by the Canadian Forces, also maintain their own bands. Bands of Cadets Canada are modeled after their respective sponsored service branch.


A mounted military band of the Chilean Army, in 2011

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, the Band of the Arturo Prat Naval School of the Chilean Navy and the Central Band of the Carabineros de Chile. Band formations on parade, mounted bands included, follow the German model, however only the Chilean Air Force Symphonic Band does not participate - the service is represented on parade by the Bands of the Captain Manuel Avalos Prado Air Force Academy and the Air Forces Specialities School. Another band formation and one with increasing public awareness is the military band of the Chilean Gendarmerie, which reports to the Ministry of Justice.

Military bands in Chile have the same instrumentation with added Bugles on the Corps of Drums, as German military bands, with a few unique additions. Another distinguishing features is the presence of the Turkish crescent in the military bands when they are on parade and the band's conductor being assisted by a bugle major.


The Military Forces of Colombia and the National Police of Colombia sport military bands and drum and bugle corps with formations similar to those in the United States, Italy, Germany and France. Military bands first reached Bogotá in the 16th century and was developed into active musical ensembles in the 20th century. In the late 1890s, military bands in the country were implemented based on the French model of these ensembles. The 37th Infantry Presidential Guard Battalion of the National Army of Colombia maintains a military war band and a corps of drums unit that serves under the command of the President of Colombia at his/her residence at the Casa de Nariño. Pipe bands are also used in the Colombian Navy's educational institutions (the Admiral Jose Prudencio Padilla Naval Academy and the Marine Basic School).[13]


Since the late 1960s the tradition of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces Military Bands Department has been based mostly on the Russian tradition but also with a mix of the former American and Caribbean musical influence. The Band of the Ceremonial Unit of the Revolutionary Armed Forces has acclaimed high praise by many foreign leaders, including U.S President Barack Obama, who greeted bandleader Ney Miguel Milanes Gálvez and said that they did a "Good job" for their performance of The Star-Spangled Banner.[14]

Dominican Republic

Given the long history of the Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic, it is no surprise that the military band tradition is a mix of the French and United States military band practice. Ceremonial bands are present not just in the Armed Forces but in the Dominican Republic National Police.


The Mounted Band of the Ecuadorian National Police uses brass, woodwinds and percussion (sans the timpani). The Ecuadorian Army's Eloy Alfaro Military Academy uses the same format as French bands but without the bugles, as they are part of the Corps of Drums. The fanfare band of the Presidential Mounted Ceremonial Squadron, also of the Army, is composed only of timpani, fanfare trumpets, a snare drum and sousaphones (when mounted).


The Presidential Guard Band (L'Orchestre de la Garde présidentielle) is the main military band unit of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Haiti. It was founded in 1972 as part of the Security Unit and Presidential Guard (L'Unité de Sécurité et de Garde Présidentielle) of the Haitian National Police. The band uses French and American military traditions in its activities, as well as sports many styles native to Haiti and the Caribbean region. One of Haiti's most revered military musicians, Occide Jeanty, is credited with revolutionizing Haitian military bands, putting songs and melodies in the era of the Haitian Revolution in the repertoire of those bands.[15][16]


The Jamaica Regiment band performed with members of the United States naval band (centre) in April 2011.

The Jamaica Defence Force funds and oversees 2 full-time military bands - the Jamaica Military Band (JMB) and the Jamaica Regiment Band (JRB). During war time, musicians will take on operational roles as Medical Assistants. Jamaican military bands follow the precedent set by British and other Caribbean military bands.[17]


Military bands are in service within the Armed Forces of Paraguay and the National Police of Paraguay, following the former Imperial German band pattern.


The regimental band of the Presidential Life Guard Dragoons Regiment is the only active mounted band in the Peruvian Armed Forces.

Examples of Peruvian bands include the Mounted Fanfare Band Company of the Presidential Life Guard Dragoons Regiment "Marshal Domingo Nieto", the Band of the Chorrillos Military School of the Peruvian Army, the Lima Air Region Band of the Peruvian Air Force, and the Casma Cadet Band of the Peruvian Naval School. These bands follow the Spanish and French practice, although with drums out front following the French model. The Presidential Life Guard Dragoons Regiment's regimental band is also the only mounted band in active service within the Peruvian Armed Forces.

The Peruvian Republican Guard Band, for 7 decades, provided music during state ceremonies, state funerals, and other events. The unit was disbanded in 1991 when the band was merged with that of the National Police's other predecessor services' bands. The Mounted Band of the Presidential Life Guard Dragoons Regiment, the other official presidential band, was established in 1905 along with the formation of the regiment, was disbanded in 1987 and remained inactive until 2012, when it was reactivated by Ollanta Humala, the President of Peru.

In addition to the military bands of the Peruvian Armed Forces, the military styled band of the National Police of Peru continues its heritage together with the bands of the Civil Guard and the Investigations Police.

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidadian military bands are unique in that they follow French and British traditions for military bands, however, use unconventional instruments such as Steelpans and native Trinidadian instruments. To this day, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Steel Orchestra (TTDFSO) is the only military steel band of its kind in the world. The TTDF's Trinidad and Tobago Regiment provides majority of the musicians who are assigned to the orchestra. Following a brief attempt create a similar type of marching band the 1960s, the TTDFSO was created on 2 June 1995 on the initiative of Chief of Defence Staff Carlton A. Alfonso and Sergeant Cecil James.[18]

United States

Band for the 10th Veteran Reserve Corps during the American Civil War

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. 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.

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 - themselves the basis for today's American civil brass band culture and traditions. 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, leading to the modern military band in the United States, and high school and college marching bands and concert bands.

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 United States' 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 the "Fightin' Texas Aggie Band" of Texas A&M University. It is entirely composed of ROTC cadets from the university's Corps of Cadets[19] and subdivided into two bands: the Infantry and Artillery bands of the Corps.


The Mounted Band of the 1st Cavalry Regiment "José Gervasio Artigas's Own Blandengues Horse Guards" of the Uruguayan Army is a mounted band following the Argentine practice, wearing the regiment's 19th century uniforms, but unlike its Argentine counterpart, also uses woodwinds. Another example is that of the Army's 1st Infantry Brigade Band, the official honors band of the General Assembly of Uruguay, which sports dress uniforms worn during the Argentina-Brazil War and later conflicts. Bands are also mounted by the Army's Uruguayan Military School and the General Artigas Military High School, the latter having recently reinstated the use of the bugle for its field section, the only band to do so. The Air Force Band is the only one that uses the shoulder mounted snares and the multiple tenor drum. Uruguayan military bands have field drummers and occasionally buglers and fifes accompanying the main band

The National Navy of Uruguay maintains for ceremonial purposes the Band of the Uruguayan Naval Academy, which doubles as the official band of the service.

Military bands in Asia

China, People's Republic of

The Central Military Band of the People's Liberation Army is the senior military band in the People's Republic of China.

Although inspired by Soviet military music throughout their history, the bands of the People's Republic of China, from both the People's Liberation Army (PLA) or the People's Armed Police play indigenous and locally composed military marches, during official ceremonies and other events as called for. The military bands of the People's Republic of China 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.[20]

The Central Military Band of the People's Liberation Army is the senior military band in the country, with the band falling under the command of the Military Band Service of the People's Liberation Army of China, which is a directorate under the supervision of the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission.

The PLA National Marching Band is a distinct unit attached to the PLA Central Band, which consists of 61 field drummers, state fanfare trumpeters, and buglers who are similar in marching style to the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, and somewhat resembles United States college marching bands.

Hong Kong

The band of the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison is modelled similarly to the other garrison bands of the PLA. Along with the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, the police band for the Hong Kong Police provides similar functions to a military band. These bands will often play a mix of Chinese, and international marches.

In addition to the band of the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, military-styled bands in Hong Kong are typically modelled after British and Commonwealth military bands. As a result, a number of military-styled bands in Hong Kong will also make use of pipe bands, a common feature with military bands in the Commonwealth. The band of the Hong Kong Sea Cadet Corps is modelled after the Royal Navy pattern.


The Macau Security Force maintain a military-style band which reflects the region's Portuguese military traditions. The Band of the PLA Macao Garrison is also available in the region.

China, Republic of (Taiwan)

The Republic of China's Air Force Band is one of several bands in the Republic of China Armed Forces.

Military bands of the Republic of China (ROC) can trace their origins to the 1911 revolution. Existing military band units include:

  • The Symphonic Band of the Ministry of National Defense of the ROC
  • The ROC Army Band
  • The ROC Navy Band
  • The ROC Air Force Band.[21]
  • Army Academy ROC Military Band
  • Republic of China Military Academy Drums Team
  • Army Academy ROC Military Drums Team
  • Republic of China Marine Corps Band

All these bands are inspired by American and German military band traditions, and their formation mirrors those used by United States military bands. Taiwan also has a great military drum and bugle corps tradition as well with a few military drum and bugle corps in active service, with their formations not quite similar to the American corps. Corps style marching bands may also be found in the Armed Forces Preparatory School and the Republic of China Army Academy.


The modern Indonesian military band tradition includes Japanese, Dutch, British and United States influences. Known locally as Ceremonial Bands (Korps Musik Upacara/Satuan Musik Upacara/Detasmen Musik Upacara), they form part of the Indonesian National Armed Forces. The seniormost of these bands is the Paspampres Presidential Band, which is part of the Presidential Security Forces of the Republic of Indonesia. These bands are led by Conductors and Bandmasters and are of the headquarters element. Indonesia also maintains a "corps of drums" tradition, such ensembles being led by drum majors. Such ceremonial units are also part of the Dutch colonial legacy, as both the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army and the Royal Netherlands Navy included similar formations before independence.

A military band of the Indonesian Armed Forces

Similar ceremonial bands are maintained by the Indonesian National Police.

The following is a list of active military bands in Indonesia:


The Israel Defense Forces Orchestra is the main musical ensemble of the Israel Defense Forces.

Even before the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel, military bands have been active and prominent in the region for many decades. As it refers to bands inside the current borders of Israel, the only known ones were small groups of soldiers organized in the country's first 20 years in existence.[22] What we had were small groups of soldiers on guard duty in remote places. Israeli military bands reached what is considered to be their golden age during the late 60s and mid 70s. At the time, many famous and well-off actors and musicians based in Israel received their musical education not from a music school, but rather from military bands in the army.[23] Today, the Israel Defense Forces Orchestra, which has similarities to American and British military bands, is the flagship ensemble of the IDF and responsible for live musical accompaniment at all national events taking place in the capital of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Additionally, bands are also found in the Education and Youth Corps of the IDF's Manpower Directorate. The Outstanding Musicians Program of the IDF is the most common of the varied ways that young soldiers continue to develop and advance their musical skills during their army service.[24][25]


The Western military band tradition arrived in Japan during the Meiji Restoration, which saw the armed forces reformed to the standards of Western armed services. Today, the Japan Self-Defense Force sports a moderate number of military bands within all its service branches (The Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces) which carry on a long heritage of Japanese military music beginning in the 1880s. The JSDF also carry on the Imperial practice of bugle call playing, which dedicated bugle platoons present in almost every unit using G major bugles similar to those used by the United States Army in the past.

Japanese military bands have a number of formations, modeled on those in the United States and the United Kingdom, and they are led by Drum Majors, Conductors and Bandmasters, while the bugle platoons are led on parades by a Bugle Major. Aside from ceremonial duties, military musicians have no secondary duties.[26]


While retaining a lot of Soviet/Russian military music that was composed in the Soviet era, military bands in the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan and/or the Ministry of Internal Affairs perform indigenous marches that are native to Kazakhstan and were made by Kazakh composers. The Military Band Service is responsible for the organization, layout, and instruction of all military bands under its command. The most notable Kazakh military band is the Presidential Band of the State Security Service of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which is used for state ceremonies carried out by the State Security Service of Kazakhstan in the presence of the President of Kazakhstan in his/her position as the Supreme Commander in Chief of the national military. Military bands are also maintained in the Ministry of Defense and the National Guard, as well as in the 4 regional commanda of the country. Most of the leadership in these bands also work in the State Concert Band of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Korea, Democratic People's Republic of (North Korea)

The North Korean combined military bands are known for their complex marching styles.

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. They also resemble Russian and Chinese military bands, adopting the Soviet tradition of adding chromatic fanfare trumpeters when in massed bands formation. As in keeping with the Songun policy and Juche ideology within the KPA, as directly reporting units of its General Political Bureau, most of its repertoire is made up locally composed marches, plus classical and modern music adapted for the band.

North Korean bands are known around the world for their marching techniques and their complex marching maneuvers, some of which are only found in large college marching bands such as the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band, and a tradition which began in 1997. The military bands in the KPA and police bands in the KPSF are led by a Conductor or Director of Music, with a Drum Major joining him or her to mark the pace of the bands, if in massed bands formation, they are led by a Senior Director of Music, 2-6 conductors, 4-8 bandmasters and 5 to 6 drum majors (with 2 female drum majors included).

Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

The Republic of Korea Army maintains a traditional daechwita band.

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

The following military bands are in service by the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (South Korean Armed Forces):

  • Republic of Korea Army Band
  • Traditional Daechwita Band of the Armed Forces
  • Republic of Korea Navy Band
  • Republic of Korea Marine Corps Band
  • Republic of Korea Air Force Band
  • Band of the Korea Military Academy
  • Band of the Korea Naval Academy

When military bands were originally formed in South Korea, American military music was the primary type of musical accompaniment used by ROK bands, as the bands were formed with United States assistance, with later influences from bands of the other armed forces which assisted the ROKAF during the Korean War (Canada and Greece for example). Later on in the 1970s, Korean martial and traditional music were incorporated into the repertoire of the bands, including modernized adaptations of folk songs for performances during concerts.[27]


Laotian military bands under the command of the Lao People's Armed Forces follow the military format and tradition of military bands from Vietnam. The Vietnam People's Army often provides music lessons to musical soldiers of military bands in Laos.[28]


The bands of the Royal Malaysian Navy during the 2012 Hari Merdeka parade, in Kuala Lumpur.

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.


Band formations in the Tatmadaw follow the former British pattern, especially of the bands of the Royal Marines Band Service and the former Royal Navy bands. The Central Military Band of the Myanmar Armed Forces was formed on November 30, 1988 in the Hmawbi Township of the Yangon Region. The current director of music of the band is Lieutenant Colonel Min Thant Zaw, with the bandmaster being Warrant Officer Thet Naing Soe.[29] The 240-member Myanmar Police Force Band, which is the country's oldest brass band (it was formed in 1945), also serves as a type of military band.[30]


The Philippine Army Band is the main military band of the Philippine Army, and the seniormost marching band of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). It was founded as the Philippine Constabulary Band in the early 1900s, and was eventually reorganized into the Philippine Army Orchestra, and then the Philippine Army Headquarters Band. Currently, the Philippine Army Band is composed of 74 musicians who are under the leadership of Captain Ronel A. Rabot. It is an army service support unit, so, therefore, it is under the administrative command of the Philippine Army Reserve Command. The Philippine Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Team (MDBT) is the prime musical unit of the PMC and the only Drum and Bugle Corps in the entire AFP. It is inspired by the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and is based at Rudiardo Brown Marine Barracks in Makati City.[31] The Presidential Security Group, the Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Air Force also maintain their own marching bands, as well as the paramilitary Philippine Coast Guard under the Department of Transportation.


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. The Singapore Armed Forces Band form the Singapore Armed Forces musical arm, which plays a vital role in parades and ceremonies such as the Singapore National Day Parade.


The Tajik military bands follow the Russian and Persian precedent for military bands while adding traditional Central Asian instruments such as the Karnay. Although many military bands in Tajikistan were formed from former Soviet military bands based in the Tajik SSR, they have for the most part been relocated to neighboring countries and to Russia. Military bands have performed during the quinquennial Independence Day and National Army Day parades in Dushanbe on September 9 and February 23 since 1993, and have attended every military and state function at various locations, from the Kohi Millat to military tattoos in foreign countries. The Military Brass Band of the Commandant Regiment of the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan is the seniormost military band in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan, being subordinate to the Ministry of Defence. The Air Force, National Guard, and the Internal Troops also maintain military bands in the country.


The band for the 3rd Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment performing at the royal funeral for Bejaratana, in Bangkok, Thailand

Military bands in Thailand were inspired by British military bands, although they play uniquely Thai military marches. The ceremony has been performed during the Trooping of the Colours ceremonies in Bangkok every December 2 since 1953, and 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. These bands are led by a Drum Major and the Director of Music.


Modern military bands that are part of the Vietnam People's Army are heavily influenced and inspired by military bands in Russia and China, as well as bands from their former pre-independence colonizer, France. The first modern military bands in Vietnam were organized between 1944 and 1954, during the first 10 years of the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The Military Band of the General Staff Command of the Military Honour Guard Battalion of the Vietnam People's Army supports the ceremonial activities of the VPA. Military bands are also maintained in the Vietnam People's Public Security.

Military bands in Europe


The Gardemusik Wien at the 34th Austrian Brass Music Festival

Military bands of Austria are for the most part similar to the German musical format, although some military bands lack a Corps of Drums, which is the most notable part of the German format. The Gardemusik Wien of the Guard Battalion is the seniormost band in the armed forces and is the one responsible for playing at all state ceremonies and events.

The first military bands in Austria were organized in 1741, with ensembles being restricted to infantry and artillery units. They reached their golden age between the 1820s and the mid-1840s, being inspired by French military tradition and reforms. Military bands at this point, were led by a director of music and were composed of 50-60 civilian musicians.[32] By the turn of the 20th century, Austrian Military Music Bands included 178 regimental bands, which was composed of over 10,000 musicians.[33]


The massed bands of the Military Band Service of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus (also known as the Central Band of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus) follow the Russian traditional model with elements of Belarusian music in its repertoire. Regional bands from each of the military commandants form the basis of the central band along with the Exemplary Band, the Band of the Honor Guard Battalion, and the Central Band of the Interior Ministry. The bands of the regional departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are also affiliated to the band as well.


The Belgian Armed Forces has, to date, 3 professional military bands, each that are close, if not over 180 years old. These bands, are representative of the service branches of the armed forces, which each band being composed of members of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The combined bands are known as the Music Bands of the Belgian Defense which combined, is composed of nearly 200 professional musicians, all of whom hold a diploma from a Royal Conservatory of Liège.[34]


Band formations in Finland have been heavily influenced by Russian, German and Swedish military traditions. Finnish military music has an over 400 year history which began in 1544 when King Gustav I of Sweden promoted the strengthening musical of the structure of the Swedish-Finnish army. The first Finnish military bands were composed of pipers, drummers, cavalry buglers and kettle drummers who began to serve on the front lines in the Russo-Swedish War (1554-1557). Gustav's son, John III, settled at Turku Castle after his father's death, and created his own personal court band, whose first directors were the Dutch-born Jören van Heiden and Blasius Fischer. This provided the basis for modern military bands in Finland. Sometime during the 1600s, a 4 member band was added to the ranks of an army regiment on the basis of the Hautboist model in Europe. In the early 1700's, there was a period of repression of Finnish military music, which would only improve later on in the century. In the early 1800's, the last band to be founded in Swedish Finland was the Band of the Queen Dowager's Life Guard Regiment in Pomerania. Bernhard Henrik Crusell, who was a musician in the and an internationally known Swedish instrumentalist, is known as the "Father of Finnish military music" and has "Crusell's March", named in his honor.[35] In the period of the Grand Duchy of Finland, a total of 23 military bands were in service in the country, growing to 28 from 1812 to 1905. During this time, bands such as the Cavalry Band of the Dragoons Regiment and the Guards Band were founded. Army bands in independent Finland received their initial training at Korsholma Military Music School (now the Military Music School) near Vaasa.[36] The Finnish Defence Forces sports 6 professional military bands with 180 musicians combined. The following is a list of active military bands in the Finnish Defence Forces:[37]

Finnish military bands are the main hosts and participants of the biannual Hamina Tattoo.


Mounted members of the French Republican Guard Band, a fanfare band during Bastille Day in 2013.

Since the 17th century, France has sported one of the oldest military band traditions in all of Western Europe, providing the Western world with a collection of French marches composed by eminent composers from the Ancien Régime, the Revolution, the Napoleonic era up to the present. 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, Fanfare, and Mounted Bands 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. French Armed Forces bands are also of the headquarters element from the regimental or brigade level onward and can also provide musical elements for civil and military events. These bands are distinguished by their service dress uniforms.


The Staff Band of the Bundeswehr during the funeral of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

The military bands of Germany have two or more components depending on instrumentation. Military bands in Germany's Bundeswehr today are only composed of a military band and a Corps of Drums. Another distinguishing features is the presence of the Turkish crescent in the military bands when they are on parade and the band's conductor being assisted by a Drum major, as well as the inclusion of fanfare trumpeters. The military bands of Germany have also influenced the development of military bands throughout South America.

In types of ensemble, these bands are called as:

  • Corps of Drums (Spielmanszug, Tambourkorps, Trommlerkorps)
  • Military/Music/Marching Band (Musikkorps, Musikkappele, Orchester)
  • Drum and bugle corps (Blasercorps)
  • Brass bands (Blasorchester, Blaskappelle)
  • Fanfare bands (Fanfarenzug, Fanfarenkorps)
  • Mounted bands (Trompeterkorps, Kavalleriemusik, Kavallerieorchester, Kavallerie Fanfare, Fanfarekavalleriekorps)

Such bands are led by Drum Majors, Conductors/Directors of Music and Bugle Majors in the case of mounted, bugle and fanfare bands. During the Imperial era, such bands existed all over the German Empire, and later on during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich (but the mounted bands were reduced to only a few by that time). The bands of the Bundeswehr today are mainly composed of the band proper, Corps of Drums, and the occasional fanfare section, several bands have historical sections wearing period uniforms and playing either modern or classic instruments.

The National People's Army of East Germany's official band service was the Military Music Service of the National People's Army, organized into the same ensembles as in the Bundeswehr.


With the Hungarian Defense Forces Central Military Band (HDF Band) (Magyar Honvédség Központi Zenekar) being the official military band of the Hungarian Defence Forces, it represents the HDF on every occasion, including parades as well as ceremonies and has done this since its foundation in 1962.[38] Military bands in Hungary have an over 120-year history dating back to the founding of the first military band in the capital of Budapest in the late 1890s. The central band also acts as the headquarters for all separate garrison bands. The band's uniform is similar to the uniform of the 32nd National Honor Guard Battalion. The current conductor of the HDF Band is Col. Zsolt Csizmadia.


An Italian Bersaglieri fanfare band. As they lack percussion instruments, the band marches at a jogging pace.

Italy has a long tradition of military music. Today, within the Italian Armed Forces, Italian military bands (called in the Italian language as both either banda or fanfara) have an instrumentation order similar to British, French, and American military bands, although it retains the Italian musical flavor and heritage.

Mounted bands in the Italian Army, Carabineri and the Polizia di Stato formerly used only the bugle and the natural trumpet from the 16th century, up to the middle of the 20th century, from the late 19th century till now also they use brass, woodwinds, timpani, single tenor 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.

Italian Military Bands:


The Latvian National Armed Forces maintain a number of military bands, such as the Central Band of the Latvian Navy.

Latvia developed a tradition of having military bands right after it gained its independence in from the Russian Empire in 1918. In February 1919, Captain Ludvigs Bol?teins of the newly formed Latvian Army ordered an infantry company to form a band composed of 11 volunteers in what was considered to be the first military band in independent Latvia. Beginning in 1940 and again following the end of the German occupation in 1944-45, the Red Army began stationing army bands on its territory. As the Soviet band tradition grew and progressed over the years, bands of the Baltic Military District stationed in the Latvian SSR were aligned towards the standard of the Bands of the Moscow Military District. Since 1991, the Central Military Band of the Latvian National Armed Forces (also known as the NAF Staff Band) has been the flagship ensemble of the national armed forces and has participated in every protocol events. Officially coming under the command of the Latvian National Armed Forces Staff Battalion, it mostly performs in the presence of a major public figure, such as the President of Latvia.

The following military bands are also associated with the NAF Staff Band and are on the National Armed Forces National Orchestral Board:[39]

  • Central Band of the Latvian National Guard (Zemessardzes or?estris) - Although it was officially founded in 2011, it actually succeeded a military band that was under the supervision of the National Guard and was active in the 90s. At the time, it was simply under the command of an Ordnance Battalion of the National Armed Forces. At present, the National Guard Band sports a saxophone quartet, jazz ensemble, a choir, and a big band, which combined totals up to 40 musicians. The current conductor of the National Guard Band is Captain Andis Karelis and Major Viesturs Lazdins.[40]


The Musique militaire grand-ducale is the sole military band of the small country of Luxembourg, based in Conservatoire de Luxembourg. The band performs close to 50 concerts per year, mostly in Luxembourg City. The band is divided into a chamber orchestra, brass band, bugles and drums, an instrumental ensemble, as well as several quintets.


Military bands of Moldova fall under the command of the music service of the Moldovan National Army, which is currently under the leadership of Major Sergiu Holban and Major Veaceslav Veste. These bands follow the Russian and Romanian military tradition for military bands. The military bands of the army have performed and participated in international music festivals since 1997. The military bands of the National Army's Chisinau Garrison include:[41]


The Central Royal Military Band of the Netherlands Army is one of five military bands in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands Armed Forces are home to 8 military music band, which perform ceremonial tasks and give concerts. The Central Royal Military Band of the Netherlands Army "Johan Willem Friso" is the main military band of the Netherlands, serving as one of 5 military bands in the country. The other 4 bands includes the National Reserve Korps Fanfare Orchestra, the Brass Band of the Royal Netherlands Army Regiment of Engineers, the Fanfare Orchestra of the RNA Cavalry and Mounted Fanfare Band Section and the Garderegiment Grenadiers en Jagers Brass Fanfare Section. All 5 report to Headquarters, Royal Netherlands Army.

The Royal Netherlands Navy is served by the Rotterdam Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Netherlands Air Force by the Central Band of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the Royal Marechaussee by the Central Band of the Royal Marechaussee.[42]


Members of the Norwegian Royal Guards Band and Drill Team Company.

The Norwegian Armed Forces have several military bands that play a prominent role during ceremonies and parades. Norwegian bands date back to the 1620s, when drummers (tambur) were stationed at all military fortresses in the country. 5 brigade bands were established during the restructuring of the Norwegian Armed Forces in 1817. Following World War II, military bands became popular among civilians and government officials, eventually leading to the Norwegian Parliament to give the green light for establishing over six bands in 1953.[43]

Music Bands in the Norwegian Armed Forces:


Polish Armed Forces military bands follow the Austrian model, but follow also the German and Russian band and march music tradition too. The main military band in Poland is the Representative Central Band of the Polish Armed Forces which is part of the 1st Guards Battalion, Representative Honor Guard Regiment and has served the leadership of Poland since 1918. All service branches of the armed forces also have their own military band. The representative ensemble of the armed forces also maintains a full chamber orchestra attached to the unit.[44]

The Representative Band of the Polish Air Force was established in 2002, merging two military bands from Jelenia Góra and Ole?nica.

In addition to the central band, the three main service branches of the Polish military maintain their own representative bands.

The Representative Band of the Polish Air Force (Orkiestry Reprezentacyjna Si?y Powietrzne Polskiej) was established in 2002 following the merger of two military bands from Jelenia Góra and Ole?nica. The majority of band members are graduates of the former Military Music High School in Gda?sk, as well as graduates of Music Academies in Poland and abroad. It takes part in numerous festivals and tattoos in Western and Central Europe. In 2009, the Polish Air Force Band was the winner of the 44th annual Polish Armed Forces review of military bands. It is currently based with the 34th Air Defense Missile Squadron in Bytom and is placed inder the command of Lieutenant Krystian Siwek.[45]

The Representative Band of the Polish Land Forces (Orkiestra Reprezentacyjna Wojsk L?dowych) supports the everyday ceremonial activities of the Polish Land Forces from its headquarters in Wroclaw. It was established in 1952 by order of Vladislav Korchits, who was the then chief of Polish General Staff. In over 50 years, the band was led by acclaimed Polish musicians such as Major Czes?aw K?stowicz, Captain Franciszek Minta, and Major Mariusz Dziubek.[46]

The Representative Band of the Polish Navy has served the musical needs of the Navy since 1920.

The Representative Band of the Navy of Poland (Orkiestra Reprezentacyjna Marynarki Wojennej Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) serves the ceremonial and musical needs of the Polish Navy. The band was formed in 1920 in the city of Puck, which was the then headquarters of the Polish navy. It was transferred to Gdynia with other units in 1925, and has been based there ever since. Its activities were suspended during World War II due to the occupation of Poland. The Polish government created a Big Band as part of the band in 1982.[47]

The history of the Representative Band of the Polish Border Guard (Orkiestra Reprezentacyjna Stra?y Granicznej) dates back to 1956 and is closely related to the history of the Carpathian Brigade of the Polish Army. It has performed its current functions as a military band since 1973 and has been based in Podhale since its founding. It is known as a perfect interpreter of symphonic, brass and classical music. The band prides itself on the over 10,000 concerts that it has performed over the years and the several prizes and awards it has been given by musical and government officials in Poland and abroad.[48][49]

Garrison Bands

The band of the Bydgoszcz garrison performing on May 3rd Constitution Day, in 2014

The following military garrisons have military bands under their jurisdiction:


The Military Music Service of the Romanian Armed Forces (Serviciul militar militar al For?elor Armate Române) and the Military Music Inspectorate (Inspectoratul Muzicilor Militare) are the principal military band departments in Ministry of National Defense of Romania. It is responsible for the organization and instruction of military bands in the armed forces. It is currently housed at a military base on 13 Iuliu Maniu Boulevard, Bucharest. July 1 is considered to be the "Day of Military Music" (Ziua muzicilor militare), which is observed as a professional holiday.[53][54]

The regimental band for the Michael the Brave 30th Guards Brigade during the visit of Petro Poroshenko to Romania.

In 1864, it became a special section in the Ministry of War, which controlled its subordinate military bands and music schools. The section became the basis for the subsequent establishment of the Military Music Inspectorate in 1867, which had Captain Eduard Hübsch being the first commander. In the nearly 30 years since Hübsch was the inspector of the military music, the special regulations for the bands of the band were elaborated and the military musicians were given a new status in the army. On May 26, 1895, inspector general Ion Ivanovici (the author of the most famous Romanian waltzes Waves of the Danube) endowed the inspectorate with new instruments, introduced a valuable and diverse repertoire, while supporting the training of future military instrumentalists. On October 10, 1936, the Military Music School was established, and was designed to ensure the training military music staff. In the middle of June in 1954, the representative military bands of each service branches of the Romanian People's Army were formed. The current inspector general of the military music service is Colonel Valentin Neacsu, who has served in this position since October 11, 2007, succeeding Colonel Ionel Croitoru.

The military music service presides over the following Romanian military bands and institutions:


Depiction of a military band of the Imperial Russian Army during the Russo-Japanese War

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 Semyon Tchernetsky, 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. These bands were modeled after the German 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 (also loosely translated to ? ?, which means Military Orchestra) 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.

The Moscow Garrison massed bands during the 2010 Moscow Victory Day Parade

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 Central Military Band by Semyon Chernetsky 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, only few bands sported woodwinds. 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.

Regional and local garrisons/military districts in Russia also maintain their own musical support services, such as the Military Band of the Eastern Military District.

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 massed military bands of the Soviet Union in Moscow, Leningrad and republican capital cities into a new decade of progress for Soviet military music as many new compositions entered the songlist of marches played during state parades. The reform of the bands begun in 1948-1949 under the assistant director of the band service, Major General Ivan Petrov, and continued on until the 1970s. Bands from the Moscow Military District took part in the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1980 Summer Olympics, which was the international television debut of Soviet military bands, broadcast to numerous countries around the world.

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.


Military bands in Spain are of very long standing. There are reports of primitive bands dating from the Celtiberian tribal and Roman periods. However military music in the modern sense began with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, during the numerous Spanish military campaigns in Europe and the wider world, when the first bands were formed in the Tercios of the Spanish Army, equipped with fifes and drums and later with wind instruments of the period. The influence of Spanish military marching bands is very important, especially in Latin America and the Philippines. The characteristic marches are the "touch" of trumpets and horns, and the steady rhythm of drums, with contrasting festive spirit and martial beats.

Plain bugles are traditionally used in the bugle bands of the Spanish Legion.

Band formations in the Spanish Armed Forces follow the British model, but Spanish bands tend to have the most senior bandsmen or bandsman, playing a tuba, positioned at the head of the band or at the second line. He or she is usually the band sergeant major or the band corporal, mostly stationed in between the trombone players or leading a file of tuba and euphonium players in some bands. Bugle bands are part of the Spanish musical tradition since the 19th century, when the bugle replaced the fife in the Spanish Army and Navy, and these bands consist of drummers and buglers (or trumpeters in the cavalry dismounted bands since the 20th century). Such formations, when massed together, are led by a Director of Music and a Drum Major (with a Bugle Major or a Trumpet Major depending on the specialty arm). The century-old Corps of Drums of the Regulares is led by a Drum Major and a Bugle Major with personnel playing snare, bass and single tenor drums, bugles, North African flutes and sometimes bagpipes, and the Spanish Royal Guard (as well as the 1st King's Immemorial Infantry Regiment of AHQ) sport Corps of Drums playing drums and fifes and wearing 18th century uniforms. Plain bugles, by tradition, are used in the bugle bands of the Spanish Legion and the Paratrooper Brigade instead of the valved bugles used by other bands and the trumpets and bass drum used by the Royal Guards. Within units based in Galicia and Asturias, military pipe bands are in service as well.

Only the Civil Guard and the Royal Guard retain mounted bands with cavalry trumpeters with the latter also having a mounted kettledrummer.


Traditionally, every Swedish regiment had a band. During the 20th century many of them were disbanded and in 1957 all remaining military bands were merged into one per garrison or disbanded entirely. The Swedish military music was made into a non-military organization in 1971 but this proving unsuccessful, the Royal Swedish Army Band was set up in 1982, followed by several other bands in the 1990s. As of 2010 the Swedish Armed Forces no longer have conscripts, but professional soldiers. The military musicians in the Swedish Armed Forces Music are now professional musicians with civil ranks (CR-1/8) or professional soldiers with military ranks (OR-1/5). Today, Swedish military music has undergone new cuts, retaining two bands only in the army and one in the navy and only a single field music formation. In addition, there are 26 bands in the Swedish Home Guard.

Formations in these bands are a mix of the Italian, German and British band traditions. The current active bands of the Swedish Armed Forces are as follows:

All three report to the Military Bands Department of the Life Guards.


Military bands in Ukraine are subordinated to the Military Music Department of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces:[55][56]

The band for the National Guard of Ukraine perform during the Independence Day of Ukraine in 2018.

Since the Russian Army annexed Crimea in 2014 followed by the War in Donbass, Ukrainian military bands have been ordered to orient their marching styles, as well as their drum majors to military bands in the European Union and NATO armed services.

In May 2016, soldiers from the Band of the 44th Artillery Brigade in Ternopil performed Shche ne vmerla Ukraina nearly 300 metres underground, breaking a world record.[57]

United Kingdom

The oldest band in the British Army is the Royal Artillery Band, which can trace its origins to the Battle of St. Quentin, in 1557.

Since later medieval times and the formation of the first bands, the United Kingdom has had a strong military band tradition. The oldest military bands in the British Armed Forces is the Royal Artillery Band. The Band can trace its origins back to 1557 at the Battle of St. Quentin, although it was not made 'official' until 1762. A series of army reviews starting in 1994 reduced the number of British Army military bands from 69 to 22 bands.

All Regular Army Bands in the British Army are part of the Corps of Army Music and there are currently 22 Bands in service. These Bands range in personnel number from 64 to 15 and include: Traditional marching, mounted and concert bands, as well as rock bands and a small string orchestra. The bands of the Corps of Army Music are:[58]

The British Army also has 20 Reserve Military Bands located across the United Kingdom and Gibraltar:[59][60]

The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment's Corp of Drums at the Lord Mayor's Show in 2010
The Royal Marines Band Service is the only musical wing presently active in the Royal Navy.

The Royal Marines Band Service is, since 1950 and the disbandment of the Fleet Divisional Bands, the only remaining musical wing of the Royal Navy in service. It currently consists of six Bands. Without doubt, groups of musicians existed in the Service before 1767, when Royal Marines Divisional Bands were formed at the naval dockyard-bases of Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth and the naval gathering-point of Deal in the Downs, and Marine bands (along with professional bands paid for by captains) plus their respective corps of drums provided music on board ships before and during battles of the Napoleonic Wars (e.g. during the long sail into action at the Battle of Trafalgar).

At present, there are a total of five Royal Marine Bands and a Corps of Drums:

The Band of the Royal Marines School of Music in Portsmouth (The Training Band) brings the total number to six.

The Royal Air Force Music Services is the organization which provides military musical support to the Royal Air Force. Based at RAF Northolt (previously at RAF Uxbridge) and RAF Cranwell, it forms the central administration of one hundred and seventy musicians divided between the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, The Band of the Royal Air Force College, The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and Headquarters Music Services. These main military bands contain within their ranks the Royal Air Force Squadronnaires, Royal Air Force Swing Wing, Royal Air Force Shades of Blue, and The Salon Orchestra of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

Massed bands of the British foot guards during the 2007 Trooping the Colour, an annual ceremony in which the military bands provide the music.

In the United Kingdom, the Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry and Massed Bands of the Household Division 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 the Mounted Band 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.

Armed Forces Reserve, civil, and youth military marching bands

The various volunteer reserve bands in the British Armed Forces' three services mirror those of the regular forces bands, as well as civil military styled marching bands (for example, The Royal British Legion, which maintains its own bands).

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

Uniformed organization-based and civil Corps of Drums mostly follow the format by most Army regiments while those with links to the light infantry do not use fifes at all. In the case of those that are part of the Sea Cadets and the RMVCC, they follow the RM (and former RN) Corps of Drums traditions, adding glockenspiels and in some bands wind and brass instruments.

The Liberty High School Grenadier Band in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has been using the British General bands format 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 of about 300 is modeled after the Coldstream Guards with a bagpipe section modeled after the Scots Guards, a colour guard section, majorettes, fanfare trumpeters, and a drum major. This format is also used by several high school bands found in the United States. 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. Another American military academy, the Missouri Military Academy, has its band modeled in the same manner as the Royal Marines.

British style brass bands have the same positioning as the British Army brass bands as they are composed of only brass instruments, saxhorns and percussion. The same applies to carnival band formations, though these have the option to include woodwinds.

Military bands of Oceania


The Australian Army Band Corps, Canberra, 2013.

Australian military bands, and their formations on ceremonies and parades, are derived from those of the United Kingdom, with each service - Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force - having their own approach, based on the service military bands in the UK. For example, the Royal Australian Navy Band marches with drums at the front, whereas the bands of the other service branches has its trombone section at the front. The instrumentation also varies from band to band, as does the size of the ensemble.

The Royal Australian Navy Band maintains two sections of musicians, one based in Sydney and one near Melbourne (at H.M.A.S. Cerberus). Australian Army Band Corps has full-time bands based in Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Sydney, Brisbane and Townsville, as well as part-time (Reserve) bands in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Newcastle, Hobart and Darwin. There are also many Reserve pipes and drums bands attached to various units. The Royal Australian Air Force Band consists of a single 43 piece band based in Melbourne. The bands of all three services perform at Ceremonial functions, such as Commemoration ceremonies and ANZAC Day marches, in addition to providing music capability for their respective services.

New Zealand

Military bands in New Zealand derive their formations from other Commonwealth, and the United States, bands. In 2012 nine of the existing twelve New Zealand military bands were disbanded for reasons of economy. A single full-time band is now retained for each of the three armed services.

See also


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  20. ^ Lanxin Xiang (2003). The origins of the Boxer War: a multinational study. Psychology Press. p. 207. ISBN 0-7007-1563-0. Retrieved .scroll down to next page from 206 to get to 208
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  60. ^ FAM 2020
  • 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

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