What Are the Different Types of Marching Band Music?

Military and patriotic marches, such as those composed John Philip Sousa, who wrote some of the most famous marches still played today, are typical of classic marching band music. Many bands, on the other hand, do not limit themselves to marches and may perform any genre of music while marching in parades and field shows. Instead of traditional marches, football halftime shows frequently feature rock, pop, jazz, swing, and modern music. Military and patriotic marches are usually included in traditional parades, but marching band music in parades can be from any musical style.

The majority of the time, marching band music varies depending on the type of band that performs it. During most parades, a high school marching band, for example, will play at least one march of some kind. However, music that teenagers are more familiar with, such as instrumental versions of popular pop and rock songs, may be played during field shows during football games and other events. College and university bands may perform a mix of marching band music, including both traditional marches and more popular music familiar to their audiences.

Political and military marches are generally the music of choice for high school and college bands performing in parades for events such as Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, and Memorial Day in the United States to keep the events traditional. Other parades that are not related to the military or government in any way are better suited to a wider range of music that will appeal to a wider audience. Half-time shows at football games usually feature instantly recognizable music that has a good chance of appealing to a wide range of football fans.

Unless marching out of step is a planned part of the show, instrumental musicians in bands almost always march in step with the beat of the music. As a result, marching band music is frequently upbeat in tempo. Slow music necessitates slower marching, which is not appropriate for a parade, for example. Because they may be standing still or moving slowly to get into different formations, field show bands frequently use a mix of slow and fast tempo music.

Some bands almost exclusively perform military-themed marching band music. Marches are typically performed parade bands, military bands, and drum and bugle corps. Fife and drum corps, which may consist solely of woodwinds and percussion, may perform Revolutionary War marches. Marches from the 19th and 20th centuries, which were composed for larger groups and the instruments commonly used in military bands at the time, are typically better suited for bugle corps that also include brass instruments.