Bang the Drum Quickly: Army Percussion

07.30.18 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The use of percussion instruments in military bands is exhaustively explored in a new publication from the U.S. Army.

“While a civilian percussionist may specialize on one particular percussion instrument, the Army requires a percussionist to be responsible for over 50 percussion instruments” including bongos and cowbells.

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound when it is struck or shaken.

See Percussion Techniques, Training Circular TC 1-19.30, Department of the Army, July 25, 2018.

“Percussion in military bands derives from the European tradition, with the British having greatest influence,” the Army document notes. “The drum was used as a signaling device from the inception of the American colonies through the Civil War, where it gave way to the bugle. Wind bands prospered during the Civil War, and the wind band was the most accessible means of presenting music to the masses for bolstering morale and esprit de corps. Modern military bands provide music for troop ceremonies, formal military occasions and patriotic gatherings. Bands also provide music for recruiting and community-relations events.”

“Percussion is an important part of the military music structure and composition.”