March (music)March music
is a genre of music
originally written for and performed by marching bands
Marches follow a fairly strict structure. They always have two beats per measure, and thus are written in either cut time (2/2), 2/4 or (if a triplet feel is desired) fast 6/8 played two beats to the measure.
- The first section is an introduction or fanfare and is either 4, 8, or 16 bars long. The fanfare is big, brassy, and exciting in order to catch the attention of the listener.
- Next we hear Section A (sometimes called the first strain), which is 8 or 16 bars long and repeats once. Section A is quieter than the fanfare, usually with a marcato, marching rhythm
- Section B (the second strain) is also 8 or 16 bars long and repeats once. This melody may use somewhat different instrumentation or may alter the relative dynamics of the different parts. It is louder than Section A.
- Section C, called the trio, is very soft, and usually utilizes the woodwinds more than the brass. One flat is added to the key signature, which stays that way for the remainder of the march. The trio melody is completely different from the ones in Sections A and B. This section is sometimes repeated, sometimes not.
- Next comes the break strain (sometimes called the dogfight), which would be Section D. This strain is loud, internse and marcato. Section C is usually written out as an extension of the break strain. Section D (with C attached) is usually repeated.
The second time we hear the trio melody (Section C), it may still be soft or it may be forte
and is often embelleshed. The last time, the respective sections are played even more loudly so that, by the end of the piece, things are fortissimo
. A stinger
is usually added to the last measure of the march -- a single quarter note played by the entire band on the downbeat after a quarter rest. It is the traditional end-of-march "da-dun DUN".
Thus the pattern for this type of march (e.g. Sousa's Washington Post) is: Introduction-A-A-B-B-C-(C)-D-C-D-C.
Some marches, for example Sousa's Manhattan Beach, follow the pattern: Introduction-A-A-B-B-C-C-D-D.
Older marches in the European style (e.g. Under the Double Eagle) go from the end back to the beginning and then play without repeats to a finish just before the trio. The pattern is: Introduction-A-A-B-B-C-D-C-D-C-A-B.
The greatest composer and conductor of marching music is probably John Philip Sousa. Other composers such as Henry Fillmore, Karl King and Robert B. Hall are less well known, but have contributed many standard pieces to the march repetoire. Kenneth Alford (Frederic Ricketts) holds the title of the British March King. See Colonel Bogey March.