The Military Band, by which we are to understand a combination consisting solely of wind and percussion instruments, is now sufficiently familiar to the musical public. In the general acceptation of the term Military Band, it may indeed be described as the most "popular" musical institution in the country. It has become almost a necessary adjunct to our public gardens, our Exhibitions, and our seaside resorts ; and there are scores of "functions" and passing "shows" which would be robbed of half their attraction were it not for the engagement of the military band. The principal military bands, strictly so called, are those of Her Majesty's Guards, of the Royal Artillery, of the Royal Engineers, and of the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall. Kneller Hall may be described as the fops et origo of the military band, for it is here that young men are trained as players and bandmasters for the British Army bands.
The stirring results produced by a band of drums, which one may hear any day in the streets of a German city, or of a fanfare of bugles or trumpets, more often heard in France, or perhaps a band of Scottish pipers, are hardly deserving of the title "military" or "martial" music. With such bands, and with others often misnamed "military," we have, however, nothing to do. Although bands of wind instruments were known as long ago as the Middle Ages, in the form of town bands, it is to the rise of standing armies that we undoubtedly owe our military bands. And it is to describe these orchestras of wind instruments, which are attached to, and fostered by, the regiments of the army in nearly all civilised countries, that we now address ourselves.
We will next go through each of the instruments of a military band and address how they can be best employed within the band with regards to composition and arrangement.