Military Bands And Their effects On Morale


Following The band Into Battle

Military bands come in many shapes and sizes. They are usually made up of musicians who perform various musical pieces, from martial music to jazz. Some military bands focus on one particular instrument while others have a more general focus on different types of music.

In almost every country with a standing military force, you will find a military band or ensemble. These musical groups first appeared during the Renaissance period and were common among European armies by the 18th century. From small drum corps to large orchestras, military bands add pomp and circumstance to any parade or ceremony, while also providing entertainment for the troops at home or on the battlefield. Their sounds also helped boost morale during times of war and peace.

This article explores the history of military brass bands and their impact on society both during war and peacetime.

Like most things, music can be used for good or for evil. Throughout history, people have used the power of music to win hearts and minds, to spread joy and pleasure, or to control and manipulate entire populations. In the context of war, music is often used to inspire or manipulate soldiers on both sides.

The idea that music can help win battles isn’t limited to Europe. It’s an idea that has been common to many cultures, and that can be found in many different historical periods. The difference between the various examples is in how music was used in each period. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it was common for European armies to hire bands to play them on to battle. The thought being that music would help keep the men’s spirits up, encourage them to fight bravely, and make them more willing to follow orders from their officers.

The Turkish Janissaries: How Music Helped Them To Win Battles

It wasn’t just European armies who recognized the power of music. In 1511, an Ottoman leader called Selim the Grim made a new military unit called the Janissaries by taking young Christian boys away from their parents and bringing them up as Muslims in his own personal barracks. The Janissaries were then trained as warriors.

To them, music was an essential part of how they operated as a military unit. It was claimed that the sound of their music was enough to terrify even the bravest opponent! It helped keep the soldiers in good spirits and also gave them opportunities to bond with one another during times when they weren’t actively engaged in warfare.

The Janissaries are an example of how even small details can be important when fighting a war.

17th Century: Origins of Military Bands

Military bands have roots in medieval times, when drums and trumpets accompanied troops in battle. These early military bands usually included only drums, bagpipes, cymbals, and one or two sets of trumpets. The drums helped rally troops and signal orders on the battlefield, while the trumpets provided a sense of excitement and called out during battle.

Military bands grew in size during the Renaissance period, particularly as gunpowder was adopted for use in warfare. These bands were used to signal orders during battle and to boost morale among soldiers during times of war. Some early bands were simple, with just a few drums and trumpets. Others featured a wide variety of instruments, including flutes, rebecs, shawms, cornets, and pipes.

18th Century: War and Society

The 18th century was an important period for military bands, as they expanded in size and popularity. This was largely due to the increase in military campaigns and warfare. Large-scale battles occurred during this period, spurring an increased need for instruments and larger orchestras in military bands.

Bands also became more standardized during this period. Orchestras started out as small groups of musicians and gradually grew in size, sometimes including over 100 members.

By the mid-18th century, a typical military band included 6 to 10 trumpets, 6 to 10 cornets, 6 to 10 clarinets, 6 to 10 oboes, 6 to 10 bassoons, and 6 to 10 drums. These large orchestras were common in England, France, and Prussia.

Drum corps and small ensembles were used to boost morale during the American Revolutionary War. It was also during this time period that the British Navy employed musicians on their ships as a way to communicate with sailors and scare off enemy ships. Brass instruments were now being used as lead instruments in orchestras, rather than just for signaling. Instruments like horns and trumpets were also used to send messages across the battlefield.

19th Century: Advancement of Brass Bands and Ensembles

During the 19th century, military musical groups became more organized and prominent. Some bands employed up to 50 musicians playing different instruments. They began performing concerts and shows for troops stationed at home and abroad.

Brass instruments were now being used almost exclusively in military bands. Trumpets and bugles were used to send coded messages and to help boost morale and intensity before battle. Drum corps had almost disappeared and percussion instruments were only used in small ensembles.

Many military bands were also now made up of a combination of military and civilian musicians.These bands were popular amongst infantry soldiers, who needed something to do during long marches or between battles.

How Bagpipes Inspired Soldiers In WW1

From 1914-1918, pipers from the Scottish regiments played a key role in helping to inspire their fellow soldiers.

The pipes have been a part of the military for almost as long as there has been a military. They were so common during the First World War that most soldiers knew about them and expected to see them on the front lines. However, only certain types of soldiers used bagpipes during this time period; namely Scottish regiments which had adopted them as their official instruments.

In fact, it was these men who first appeared on the battlefield playing their bagpipes and inspired many others to follow suit.

The bagpipes have a very unique sound that is unlike anything else. It is loud, brash, and bold. These are all qualities that many people associate with masculinity. They are also associated with danger and excitement, both of which are masculine traits as well.

The pipers would walk into battle playing their instruments and inspire the other soldiers to fight more aggressively. This occurred in various battles throughout the war, including the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Ypres, and the Battle of Loos.

20th Century: Brass Bands in the 21st Century

Military band members were soldiers first, and musicians second. In addition to performing on the battlefield, military brass bands also played during military funerals and ceremonies. Some bands, such as the U.S. Marine Band, continue to be active today.

During the Second World War, military brass bands also developed a reputation for being a source of black culture. Black musicians played a significant role in the burgeoning jazz scene, a type of music that was often associated with the military as many black jazz musicians found themselves in military bands during the Second World War. The prevalence of military brass bands in black culture continued into the 21st century, particularly in hip-hop music.


Military bands and ensembles have existed for centuries. They have evolved over time, but their purpose has remained the same. They help boost morale and provide entertainment for troops during peace or war. They are also used as a way to promote patriotism and instill a sense of urgency among soldiers. Brass bands will likely continue to be popular and important in military culture for years to come.