March Playlist: Best Marching Songs

It came as no surprise to UNCSA percussion professor John Beck to be asked to share his playlist for March on UNCSA's Spotify channel. After all, without a drummer how do you know when to step forward with your left foot?

So here we go. Select play, and forward, march!


Beck shares why these songs made his playlist:

Giving life a little direction. “Paddy on the Handcar” performed by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. In 2013, while I was president of the Percussive Arts Society, I was asked to help curate a military drumming exhibit for our museum in Indianapolis titled “No Drummers, No Direction.” The name was chosen because during the Revolutionary war every part of a soldier’s day was directed by drum patterns and fife calls that told the soldiers what to do—in camp and on the battlefield. The Army Old Guard Fifers and Drummers carry on this tradition today that began with George Washington’s troops in 1776.

Sounds of history. N.C. 26th Regimental Brass Band performs “Trovatore Quickstep.” Shortly after joining the UNCSA faculty in 1998 I was approached by the Moravian Music Foundation to help reconstruct drum parts for the only surviving set of Confederate Band Books contained in their archives. Moravian musicians from (Old) Salem enlisted in the 26th Regiment and played brass band music during the Civil War (including the Battle of Gettysburg) until their capture and imprisonment. The bandsmen returned to Salem with their music books in 1865 and performed again for the townspeople. I love this use of a popular opera theme with a brass band march.

Once a Marine, always a Marine. “Semper Fidelis” performed by the U.S. Marine Bands. As a former Marine Bandsman (1983-87) I remain, always faithful.

Great rhythmic hook. Dave Matthews Band's “Ants Marching.” This song has a rhythmic hook that grabs you from the beginning, and Carter Beauford’s drumming is so funky. As they say in the jazz world, it is “right in the pocket.” How can you listen to this song and not tap your foot and smile?

Worth the wait. Beethoven's “Symphony No. 9 'Turkish March'.” Marching music began during the Ottoman Empire with Janissary Bands playing triangle, cymbals and bass drum. Beethoven understood the allure of this exotic music from Turkey and incorporated percussion instruments into his final symphony playing a “Turkish March.” The percussionists must sit patiently through 51 minutes of glorious music before playing their first note in the final movement.

John Beck performing in the Winston-Salem Symphony

The percussion section of the Winston-Salem Symphony wore fez hats when they performed "Beethoven Symphony No. 9" as a surprise for the conductor.


John Beck

This month's playlist is by John Beck, Percussion Faculty.


by Elizabeth White

March 03, 2017