Marches are Exactly What It Says on the Tin
: Music that is written to accompany marches. While marches were originally written to provide cadence for marching soldiers, Marches have also been written for parades, funerals, processions, graduation ceremonies, political rallies, circuses, opera... just about anything that requires a steady rhythm between 60 and 120 beats per minute, though concert marches can be significantly faster and circus marches, also known as "Screamers", can really rip. Marches were considered the world's popular music at the turn of the 20th century and the bread and butter of famous composers like Kenneth Alford, Edwin Eugene Bagley, Julius Fucik, Roland F. Seitz and "The March King" himself, John Philip Sousa.
The standard march form tends to be written in duple meter, with an introduction, two strains, a triple and a stinger...but here at TV Tropes we don't particularly care about that. If you want to know about that stuff, or the usages of theme and counterpoint, consult Wikipedia
. No, our concern is with the use of march music to set theme and tone in other media, for nothing says that things have gotten serious, as in military-grade industrial mobilization serious, as a march tempo. The Empire
will almost always have a march as their leitmotif, and the hero will too if he needs an especially rousing theme tune. And there was a period during the late 1950s where marches were very popular as movie and TV themes. Some marches have become so ingrained in our popular consciousness that one cannot hear them without envisioning the scenes that they evoke, inspiring creators to include them (or a ciose knock off) in order to set the scene.
While it's impossible to select one march as the most iconic ever written, for most people in the English speaking world the term "March" usually calls to mind three pieces: Alford's Colonel Bogey
, Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever
, and Edwin Eugene Bagley's National Emblem
. Interestingly, Sousa himself listed National Emblem
as one of the three most effective street marches ever written.
Marches that are associated with common themes and tropes:
- "American Patrol" (the swing version): Eagleland type One
- "Anchors Aweigh" by Charles A. Zimmerman: Naval and nautical tropes
- "Colonel Bogey March" by Kenneth Alford: uniting against a common oppressor
- "Entry of the Gladiators" (a.k.a. Thunder and Blazes) by Julius Fucik: The Circus!
- "Pomp and Circumstance no. 1" by Sir Edward Elgar: Graduation ceremonies in the United States, patriotic moments in the United Kingdom.
- "The Thunderer" by John Philip Sousa: Parades.
- "The Empire March" by John Williams: The Empire.
- "The Raider's March" by John Williams: Adventure!
Media using marches as theme or important music:
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Films — Animation
- Madagascar Three: Chris Rock's "Circus Afro" is a thinly disguised version of Thunder and Blazes
Films — Live-Action
- Carmen (March of the Toreadors overture)
- The Music Man: Set smack in the middle of the march era, and about the founding of a brass band, "Seventy-six Trombones led the big parade..."