Drummer - Military

Military

Before motorized transport became widespread, drummers played a key role in military conflicts. The drum cadences provided set a steady marching pace, and elevated troop morale on the battlefield. In some armies drums also assisted in combat by keeping cadence for firing and loading drills with muzzle loading guns. Military drummers were also employed on the parade field, when troops passed in review, and in various ceremonies including ominous drum rolls accompanying disciplinary punishments. Children also served as drummer boys well into the nineteenth century, though less commonly than is popularly assumed as due to the nature of the job experienced older men were preferred.

Drummers are no longer employed in battle, but their ceremonial duties continue. Typically buglers and drummers mass under a sergeant-drummer and during marches alternately perform with the regiment and/or battalion ensembles.

Military based musical percussion traditions were not limited exclusively to the western world. When Emir Osman I was appointed commander of the Turkish army on the Byzantine border in the late 13th century, he was symbolically installed via a handover of musical instruments by the Seldjuk sultan. During the Ottoman Empire, size of a military band reflected the rank of its commander in chief: the largest reserved for the Sultan (viz. his Grand Vizier when taking the field). It included various percussion instruments, often adopted in European military music (as 'Janissary music') The pitched bass drum is still known in some languages as the Turkish Drum.

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