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March (music)
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March (music)

March music is a genre of music originally written for and performed by marching bands.

Most 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.

For marches in major keys, the trio usually modulates to the subdominant, for those in minor keys, the trio is usually in the relative major. This key is maintained to the end of the piece. The trio melody is completely different from the ones in Sections A and B, however, it tends to contrast them. This section is sometimes repeated, sometimes not. The second time we hear the trio melody (Section C), it may still be soft or it may be forte and is often embellished. 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. John Philip 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.

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, Fred Jewell, Edwin Franko Goldman, J.J. Richards, 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.

See also

Concert marches and Screamers

March music composer