Two Left Feet: Wonky, Comedic Marches for Band (Grade 4-5)

Keep your audience on their toes - or not. They'll be hard pressed to keep tapping in time to these off-balance marches!

We've all been there - somehow the band gets out of sync. Some stalwarts are hanging doggedly to your beat, while others are marching to the beat of their own drum. Including the drummer.

Turn these musical nightmares into the stuff of comedy by getting your group to attempt a piece where they deliberately have to play out of time! (It's way harder than when it happens accidentally!)

You might have heard or played Charles Ives' iconic Country Band March but there are plenty more marches out there to tickle your funny bone. They'd be perfect for a concerts with themes like comedy, marching, movement, clowns, or children's shows.

If you like the idea of your audience trying to tap their foot in time, laughing when they can't, and your band furrowing their brows as they try desperately to stay out of time on purpose then these are for you.

These three gems from around the world will challenge your ensemble's rhythmic independence, confidence and section playing.

Charlie and the Mechanical Man Marching Band (2017)

Erika Svanoe

🇺🇸 USA

Movement 1 of Steampunk Suite

Level: Grade 5

Duration: 4'

Publisher: Purchase hard copy or digital from Swan Maiden Press

Full Instrumentation List

Imagine an army of Victorian-era robots marching along, led by Charles Ives. The robots have a few glitches so things don't quite go to plan, or stay in time. Do the robots take over? I don't know, but there's certainly a tussle for who is in the right place. Plenty of clickety-clack sounds from the percussion (including the infamous marching machine!) bring the mechanical aspect to the music.

This piece requires a very confident percussion section, and includes an extended marimba solo. The technical requirements are moderate, however the ensemble skills required to pull this off effectively are advanced. Holding different parts out of sync, and the written out shifts into and out of sync will challenge advanced bands.

This is the first of four movements from Steampunk Suite. Movements 2 & 3 are 3/4 French waltz style pieces, and the final is another twisted barn-burner circus march. The movements can be played separately or together.

Also check out: Mvt IV. Barnum & Tesla's Tandem Bicycle, plus the original chamber version of this work, Steampunk Scenes.

Marsch [oder die Versuchung] (1992)

Marcel Wengler

🇱🇺 Luxembourg

Movement 1 of Versuche Über Einen Marsch

Level: Grade 4

Duration: 4'

Publisher: Maecenas Music

This was the first wonky march I ever played, and I immediately fell in love. When I finally came to conduct it I loved seeing how Wengler had notated the added and shortened bars to disrupt normal phrase patterns. Not overly technically challenging this is a great introduction to the style.

This is the first movement of a larger work which translates to 'Experiments on a March'. The six movements that follow are further experiments on this march, but even this opening theme is off-kilter!

As with most pieces in this style you need competent, strong-willed bass drum and snare players. Every one needs great confidence and internal pulse to hold their own when the traditional oom-pah pattern reverses itself within the bar or they are out of sync with other sections!

Great fun and the audience love it.

The Little Ripper March (1988)

David Stanhope

🇦🇺 Australia

Level: Grade 4

Duration: 3'30

Publisher: Purchase from Australian Music Centre (digital or hard copy)

Full Instrumentation

While less warped than the others, this lively 6/8 march has a few unexpected phrases lengths and, if you do it right, one earth-shattering bass drum hit near the end.

This bright 6/8 march features a wonderful trio featuring mallet percussion and a melodic timpani part with virtuosic note changes (helpfully cued in tuba). A great opportunity to spotlight your percussionists.

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