A Proud Tradition

A Proud Tradition

The marching band as we know it today would not exist without the influence of the military. Famously, bagpipes and drums were used for 13th century infantry units (5) but the traditions of pairing instrumentation with martial activity did not begin to set the stage for modern marching bands until the armies of Edward III and Louis XIV took the field (6).  In the United States military bands were formed as early as the American Revolutionary War and their popularity as entertainment and sources of local pride continued to grow over the next century (3).

However, most bands at this time were only military in terms of style and technique.  "The military-style band chooses a marching tempo which is approximately the same as that used by military units..."  writes a 1950s marching band method book.  "This type of band strives for dignity and stateliness in the military tradition (4)."

In the late 19th century marching bands suddenly became very popular in the United States.  "As colleges and universities sprang up across the land, marching bands were organized," explains Vincent Scurro in his book (3).  Many of the forming bands were neither associated with military organizations or universities, being instead sponsored by a town or community.

In Nebraska between 1868 and 1900 there were 36 bands known to have formed.  Of these, seven were strictly military bands (such as the Pawnee City Military Band), three were considered to be school bands (among these the University of Nebraska Band), and twenty four were community or city bands (2).  Still, while the vast number of bands were not military bands in origin, they would have been considered military in style.