When Igor Stravinsky was born, it was the Russian Empire who had a “special relationship” with the United States, not Great Britain. By the time he emigrated to Switzerland, the Russian Empire was the Soviet Union and Stravinsky was a global nomad. The talented composer had a knack for arranging and re-arranging the national anthems of his adoptive countries. Russia, Switzerland, and France all had Stravinsky versions of their national anthems.
It was while living in the United States in 1941 that Stravinsky decided to make a contribution toward “fostering and preserving the spirit of patriotism” in America. He re-arranged the national anthem of the United States, most notably to make it easier to sing.
Stravinsky moved to the U.S. in 1939 at the outset of World War II. The U.S. didn’t adopt the Star-Spangled Banner as its official national anthem until 1931, just in time to give Stravinsky a new home and a new anthem to arrange. During both World Wars, orchestras were encouraged to play the song and audiences were encouraged to sing along. There could be stiff penalties for noncompliance — especially for foreigners.
But Stravinsky didn’t need to be pushed to play the anthem. He was more concerned about the structure of the anthem.
He opened his first show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Calif. in 1940 with the traditional, well-known version. This version was arranged by Walter Damrosch, a New York musician and composer. The problem with that version is in its harmonization, according to the Marine Corps Band at the time. But concerns about harmony were pushed aside and Damrosch’s version became the norm across the country.
But not for Stravinsky. He heard a number of re-harmonizations of the tune in his time and decided to arrange his own. He even wrote to President Roosevelt about his intentions in editing the music.
Searching about for a vehicle through which I might best express my gratitude at the prospect of becoming an American Citizen, I chose to harmonize and orchestrate as a national chorale your beautiful sacred anthem the Star-Spangled Banner. It is a desire to do my bit in these grievous times toward fostering and preserving the spirit of patriotism in this country that inspires me to tender this my humble work to you as President of this Great Republic and to the American People. Believe me.
Faithfully yours, Igor Stravinsky
Playing his arrangement in the Boston Symphony Hall at the height of World War II in 1944 was another story.
Legend has it the Boston Police Department wasn’t thrilled with the changes to the national anthem and that the composer was breaking a Massachusetts law by “tampering with national property” and that he was to be arrested. Though the arrest never happened, the police did cite a state law about how the anthem should be played. The police misapplied the law, however. The law was made against using the Star-Spangled Banner “as dance music, as an exit march, or as a part of a medley of any kind.”
Instead of being fined or arrested, he simply removed the song from his set list.
Stravinsky would play his rearrangement for years after World War II ended, right up until his death in 1971. At his last show at the Hollywood Bowl in 1966, he closed with his version of the anthem, his own exit march. No one fined him.
Military members and veterans had a field day when they discovered the Air Force’s Max Impact Band and their highly produced music video but it turns out the Army has a few touring bands of its own – all part of the United States Army Field Band.
The Army fields a number of official touring bands, all comprised of active soldiers. But the members of the U.S. Army’s Field Band are considered “The Musical Ambassadors of the Army,” going around to play for civilians and military installations alike. The unit has four touring sub-bands: The Concert Band, The Soldiers’ Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and the Six-String Soldiers — its bluegrass-country cover band.
The “Six-String Soldiers” were “The Volunteers” — a rock cover band — until a few short years ago; they now no longer perform rock music (but you can still listen to their old cover songs on their SoundCloud page).
(U.S. Army photo)
The Volunteers seamlessly transitioned between rock, pop, and country music from all decades. The band was as old as the concept of an all-volunteer force, formed in 1981, just a few years after the draft disappeared from daily American life. Like most cover bands (presumably), The Volunteers wanted to one day perform their own original material for audiences. They never got the chance, but the Six String Soldiers keep their spirit alive and well.
These days you can find all of the Army’s versatile musical soldiers performing on military bases, at VA hospitals, music festivals, and special events. They aren’t limited to the military-veteran community – that’s the whole point of their mission. They want to reach out to the public and show the diversity and vast scope of the U.S. Army.
Give a listen to The Six-String Soldiers cover Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” in the video below.
In December 2003, Michael Trotter, Jr. was a soldier stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. His unit was camped out in one of Saddam Hussein’s bombed-out palaces when his commanding officer discovered a piano and suggested Trotter, who enjoyed singing, check it out.
“You had to crawl over soot and rut and rock and rubble from the war to get to this piano; it was like one of those dramatic movie scenes,” Trotter told Real Clear Life.
“Dear Martha” is about the letters written between loved ones divided by war. Trotter recorded the song with his wife, Tanya Blount, as part of their musical duo, The War and Treaty, which explores the concept of creating music out of darkness and despair to find peace, tranquility, and a higher purpose.
While this video doesn’t include any visuals, you can hear their tranquil notes and haunting harmonies by clicking play below — and you really, really should:
If you’re in the military or are a veteran and haven’t heard about the Space Force yet, it’s time to climb out from under that rock you’ve been living in. There’s a sixth branch of the U.S. military now, and it’s going to be a department of the Air Force.
Although the Air Force has released very limited guidance on what the new branch will do, how it will roll out, or basically anything at all except that it’s called the ‘Space Force’ and will exist one day, the excitement the idea of a space force brings the military community is palpable.
So if you’re excited to do your part, you can fully engulf yourself in the burgeoning Space Force culture, you can now enjoy the first Space Force song, sure to be shouted at the top of many a Spaceman’s lungs every morning during Space-ic Training.
This songified version of President Trump’s Space Force announcement was created by The Gregory Brothers, whose YouTube page is packed with pop culture songification. Due to the popular demand for the song to be made into a ringtone via the popular Air Force Facebook page Air Force amn/nco/snco, the Gregory Brothers responded immediately.
Here’s a short list of things we already knew about Kaj Larsen:
1. He’s a former U.S. Navy SEAL
2. He’s an Emmy-nominated producer and war correspondent for VICE and he has a masters from Harvard University.
3. He’s a total hottie a founder of The Mission Continues, an organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life at home to find purpose through community impact.
But you might not know that he has rather eclectic taste in music and even learned to play while deployed.
“We’d sit around as a platoon. A couple of us played guitar, and we’d play and sing and that was extraordinarily significant for me on that first deployment. It helped carry us through.”
In a conversation with We Are The Mighty, Larsen shares the songs that meant something to him at different moments during his military career — whether it was the shotgun rack in M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” hitting home before a mission, or the patriotism of Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” during a controversial time in American history.
Larsen easily carries the gravitas of a combat-experienced SEAL, but he isn’t concerned about being vulnerable. He can laugh about being afraid of his jump training and how R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” helped get him out the door.
That’s the thing about music — in many ways, it becomes the soundtrack to our lives , and Larsen’s has been a rather inspiring one.
Check out what he had to say about music and his SEAL career in this video:
She was a rescue swimmer in the Navy, she’s a motocross athlete, and she knows how to use a gun — so yeah, she can more than hold her own.
We Are The Mighty sat her down to find out about her taste in music, and it was everything we’d hoped for and more.
Carrizosa has the kind of self-confidence that lets her to talk about her many successes and adventures, still with the perfect blend of self-deprecating humor. You get a taste of this when she gives a sample of her Atreyu scream, right after nonchalantly mentioning her “50-cals” and right before laughing at herself.
“In my mind, music definitely has a strong power and it has the ability to move people for the better.”
The general of the Columbian Army reached out to an advertising executive who helped produce a pop song that contained a hidden Morse code message, which played on the radio, alerting the hostages to their upcoming rescue.
“What Hath God Wrought?” was the first message sent by Morse code in 1844 and some of these songs live up to it:
Morse code is actually still being used by the military. The last code classes were taught by the Army at Fort Huachuca in 2015. The Air Force is currently teaching this vital form of communication at Goodfellow AFB, Texas.
Hollywood has always found a way to connect music with visuals. This seamless blending is an art that has constantly evolved alongside filmmaking.
Legends by likes of James Cameron and Martin Scorsese have used hit songs like “Bad to the Bone” in
Terminator 2: Judgement Day and “Stardust” in Casino to enhance the audiences’ experiences and bring their films to life.
Recently, a young director by the name of Edgar Wright has changed cinema with his revolutionary take on how to perfectly mold film editing with one’s favorite tune in Baby Driver.
Once we see this kid start bumping “Bellbottoms” by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on his iPod, there’s no stopping him.
Baby Driver definitely had the moves, but the military has always had the attitude. The songs on this list capture the attention of audiences and pull them into the on-screen battles, parties and periods of mourning.
So, let’s kick the tires and light the fires, because this list is sure to have you on your feet.
Let’s kick off this list with a classic. Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone set the tone for Tony Scott’s high-octane blockbuster and the song’s never been the same since. Now, when you hear Loggins start to croon, you immediately conjure up images of Maverick taking to the skies in Top Gun.
“Can’t Do Nuttin’ For Ya Man” by Public Enemy in ‘Three Kings’
Nothing starts a party like the hip-hop group with attitude by the name of Public Enemy. When the music starts bumping and the whiskey starts flowing, the soldiers in this film show that the military can party just as hard as anyone.
Jarhead is a rendition of the Anthony Swafford’s 2003 memoir about the Gulf War that gives viewers a (slightly exaggerated) glimpse at the lesser-known elements of the Marine Corps.
The truth is, there are no better orders then the ones that get you home, which is why Public Enemy makes this list again. As “Fight the Power” blares on screen and the ground pounders fire rounds into the night air, the audience gets a taste of that sweet, sweet freedom.
Topping off the list is the true story of the Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrel, the sole survivor of Operation Red Wings. Lone Survivor revisits the unfortunate events of that day and reminds us of a grim reality: we are never truly out of the fight.
At the end of the film, as the credits role and the audience is shown a series of photographs of the real troops who gave their lives for the mission, “Heroes” by Peter Gabriel plays — and nothing else could’ve fit better.
But music has been a part of war for a long time. Horns, buglers, and drummers sounded orders for entire armies from the Classical era until as late as the Korean War. Even in psychological operations, the use of music is not a novelty – Joshua is said to have used horns as a weapon when he captured Jericho.
So from biblical times to post-9/11, here are few contemporary examples of armies using music against the enemy.
1. Metallica, “Enter Sandman” – Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Among these were Barney the Dinosaur’s “I Love You” song, “Bodies” by the band Drowning Pool, and “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.
“Part of me is proud because they chose Metallica,” frontman James Hetfield said in an interview with 3SAT, a German media outlet. “And part of me is bummed that people worry about us being attached to some political statement because of that… politics and music for us don’t mix.”
2. 4Minute, “HUH (Hit Your Heart)” – Korean DMZ
The main feature of the Korean Demilitarized Zone are the thousands of North and South Korean (and U.S.) troops literally staring each other down, daring each other to try something cute. It’s an intense area and you can cut through the tension with a knife. Each has tried a number of “cute” things to irk the others, including fake cities, propaganda billboards, and ax murders. In 2010, the weapon of choice became Korean pop music.
When North Korea sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan that year, The South responded by blasting propaganda messages across the border using 11 enormous loudspeakers aligned in the DMZ. They also used the song “HUH (Hit Your Heart)” by the Kpop group 4Minute, over and over. It got to be so much that the North threatened to turn Seoul into a “Sea of Flame” if the music didn’t stop.
3. Britney Spears, “Oops! I Did It Again” – Horn of Africa
By 2013, the Somali pirate fleet operating in the Horn of Africa was such a problem, the UK’s Royal Navy had 14 warships on alert in the area. Attacks have decreased since then, thanks to increased attention by international naval patrols. But there are a few merchant mariners who think Britney Spears might have had a hand in it as well.
“They’re so effective the ship’s security rarely needs to resort to firing guns,” one merchant told the Mirror. “As soon as the pirates get a blast of Britney they move on as quickly as they can.”
4. Martha and the Vandellas, “Nowhere to Run” – Operation Just Cause
In December 1989, the United States invaded Panama after its leader Gen. Manuel Noriega discarded the results of a national election and Panamanian troops killed a U.S. Marine and wounded another. American troops were sent to safeguard its citizens lives, enforce the election results, and capture and extradite Noriega to the United States.
As far back as he can remember, Sean Gilfillan has had two distinct halves to his personality: a button-down, achievement-oriented practical side, and an artistic, musical side. And while most people with similar dualities accept that the former will most likely pay the bills while the latter is, at best, a hobby, Gilfillan never did. And that refusal has resulted in an unorthodox career path, one that generates income while nurturing his drive to be creative.
Gilfillan continued his family’s history of service in the U.S. Army by attending Norwich University on a ROTC scholarship and then accepting a commission as an artillery officer. After going through training at Fort Sill in 2003 he was assigned to the First Armored Division and deployed to Iraq. After two months in-country, he was assigned to A Co., 1/6 Infantry Battalion as their Fire Support Officer.
“I was fire support, but I didn’t have much to do with that specialty in central Baghdad,” he said. “So I kind of morphed into infantry.”
He worked closely with the locals performing what he described as “hybrid civil affairs” in the crucial Korada district. Right as his unit was due to rotate back to the states, they were extended for an additional three months. And the day they were extended seven of his fellow soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber driving a car loaded with explosives.
That loss affected him deeply. “You start questioning the randomness of war,” he said. “But at that point, I decided I always wanted to be connected to the military in some way.”
After rotating out of the war zone he spent a year in Germany. During that time, he figured he’d done what he’d set out to do as an Army officer, and in 2006 he transitioned to the civilian world and wound up back his hometown in Rhode Island.
“I literally had no idea what I wanted to do beyond something cool in entertainment,” he admitted.
Gilfillan went on unemployment for a few months as he hatched a plan, one driven by the attitudes of the civilians with whom he came in contact.
“People were asking me crazy questions about going to war,” he said. “And when I answered I could see they couldn’t have been less interested.”
So, with the encouragement of his new wife Sidney, he did something suitably unorthodox: He launched To The Fallen Records [now To The Fallen Entertainment], “the world’s first military record label,” as he put it. The name came from a large tattoo he’d had inked across his back a few years before in remembrance of the seven soldiers his unit lost on that tragic day in Iraq.
To The Fallen (TTF) exclusively featured veteran artists, primarily in the hip hop and country genres. The company was featured in Rolling Stone, Billboard, and The New York Times. The word was getting out, and Gilfillan was confident he’d started a viable business.
TTF released a couple of compilation CDs and sold them online. Orders were brisk at first, but then the bottom fell out.
“Turns out 2009 was the absolute worst time to start a record label,” Gilfillan said.
Social media and streaming services like Spotify and Pandora were radically changing how consumers purchased music. Nearly overnight CDs became an archaic format.
TTF’s distributor went bankrupt, so even if orders came in, Gilfillan had no way to get the CDs out. He was shouldering a massive amount of debt and running out of time.
Help came in the form of a phone call out of the blue from a sergeant major he’d served with in Iraq. The Pentagon had a reserve billet open for a counter-insurgency expert. Gilfillan was qualified by virtue of the civil affairs work he’d done during the war, and he needed the job. He said yes.
Gilfillan worked in the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Office, learning the government’s budgeting process. In the course of doing the job he also learned a lot about how Morale, Welfare, and Recreation works, both good and bad.
From his experience with TTF Records, Gilfillan knew what it took to book top-flight talent. He saw that because there wasn’t any centralized way for commands to put their local events together, troops weren’t always getting the talent they deserved and the government was paying too much for the acts they were getting.
“Only a few active duty people understand it even though it’s a $10 billion industry,” he said.
In 2010 Gilfillan left the Pentagon job, and, after consulting with several financial experts, he put his learnings into action as To The Fallen Entertainment.
TTFE pursued two main missions at once: Convincing installations that centralizing the way they booked entertainment would get them higher levels of talent at less cost, and becoming an approved DoD contractor.
The latter happened, and soon thereafter TTFE was contracted to provide the U.S. Marine Corps with 50 shows across the world. Gilfillan landed acts like David Allan Grier, Gabriel Inglesias, Iliza Shlesinger, and Bubba Sparks.
Along the way, TTFE incorporated best practices for the company while doing the same for clients. At the same time, Gilfillan had his eye on bigger deals like the U.S. Army’s 5-year entertainment contract.
“We checked all of the boxes to land that contract,” Gilfillan said. “Diversity, size, scope — that’s what TTFE’s first four years were all about.”
TTFE won the Army’s contract, and that gave Gilfillan the confidence to hire four employees and set up his headquarters in San Antonio.
“We’re still small, but we want to be big,” he said. “The trick for us is to simultaneously be trusted insiders and expert outsiders.”
Gilfillan’s goal is to grow TTFE into a $25-50 million company by proving its worth to more installations, showing how they can gain efficiencies across DoD.
“[DoD] has a massive enterprise advantage,” he said. “TTFE wants to help them leverage it.”
The future is bright, but in the face of business success, Gilfillan is careful to maintain his focus.
“The sole mission of TTFE is to boost the morale of troops and families on installations,” he said. “We want bigger talent and bigger shows for them.”
TTFE has now done hundreds of shows across all of the services. Next year the company is launching their “BaseFEST Program” a partnership between TTFE and installations to create what Gilfillan calls “their own unique versions of Coachella.”
Gilfillan’s advice for veterans transitioning behind him is to think big.
“In your own vision of where you want to be in life it’s important to have an end state in mind,” he said. “I wanted to be someone who’s doing big stuff in the entertainment industry.”
As well as a general goal, Gilfillan also says that vets in the process of getting out need to cultivate skills relevant to the industries they’re pursuing.
“If you want to go into tech, you have to know how to code,” he said.
And more than anything, Gilfillan recommends that vets not give into the fear that comes with leaving the structure of the military.
“I was half a million dollars in debt at one point,” he said. “But I succeeded because I was willing to fail.”
Editor’s Note: To The Fallen Entertainment is proud to present Base*FEST Powered by USAA, a new music festival that launched this Independence Day weekend at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. It’s hitting NAS Pensacola next, and it prides itself on providing a free music festival experience to active duty military, veterans, and their local community.
If you’ve ever surfed the internet looking for military rap songs, chances are you’ve come across the unique sound of “The Marine Rapper.”
Known for sporting a red mohawk and wearing an American flag bandana, TMR served 10 years in the Marine Corps as a Combat Correspondent where he earned a Combat Action Ribbon and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals during his service.
After successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, TMR left the Marine Corps in February 2014. After entering back into civilian life, TMR began focusing on music as a profession and for cathartic expression.
Since then, TMR’s music has been featured on the Range 15 Movie Soundtrack, the Oscar Mike TV series on Go90 network, and Apple Music.
“Star-Spangled Banger has many meanings,” TMR tells WATM. “It is a new Star-Spangled Banner, it is my moniker and a way of saying veterans made a banger.”
TMR’s music recounts personal war stories over hip-hop and rock inspired beats. He strives to motivate others and to use his rhythmic talents to immortalize his fallen brothers and sisters through music.
Check out The Marine Rapper‘s music video to watch “Star-Spangled Bangar” for yourself.
Made on a budget of $0, the Annapolis midshipmen’s version of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” featuring Bruno Mars is the most polished military music parody to date. The cast and crew consist entirely of midshipmen, and it perfectly captures the joy of being on liberty. The crew even managed to mashup Anchors Away into the funky tune, listen closely around 3:00 of the video.
The field inspires a range of emotions that vary depending on your MOS and how long you’re going to be there. For personnel other than grunts, one can reasonably expect tents, a field mess hall, trucks, and time away from the office. The infantry is still here from last month with MREs in a flooded fighting hole. Regardless of occupation, we all give our weapons a final onceover and load our magazines with freedom before heading down range. The timeframe to hurry up and wait is unknown and if you’ve exhausted your usual playlist of metal, rap, pop (or whichever genre you’re into), you may want to discover something new.
It’s easy to forget that our day-to-day routines in the military are interesting, and somewhere in America, there’s a kid who thinks your job is badass — because it is. Get pumped with these ancient warrior playlists to get rounds down range and deliver democracy right on target.
Epic Celtic Music Mix – Most Powerful & Beautiful Celtic Music | Vol.1
The ancient Celtic Nations of western Europe passed down their traditions through music from one generation to the next, using instruments such as flutes, whistles, the bagpipes, the Celtic harp, drums, and fiddles. Knowledge on how to construct these was passed down through Clans through parental tutelage. The traditions evolved into the profession of the bard, an artist who chronicled the exploits of each Clan through song and poetry. These professional musicians were important to Celtic culture because it was through song that fame and infamy would spread.
The Vikings have captured the imagination for centuries. It is known that horns, flutes, panpipes, skalmejen, jaw harps, lyre, tagelharpa, rebec, and drums were echoed in the great halls of jarls and kings. Unfortunately, theircompositions did not survive the test of time, as there are no written works, so we can only speculate how their music sounded.
The Romans had a uniform style of music that rarely deviated into original pieces, yet this did not deter them from reciting their songs in their daily lives. Musical training was known as a sign of one’s education or religious devotion. Romans could also participate in contests that attracted wide audiencesto win fame and money. The tuba was used for signaling orders to troops in contact, funerals, stage performances,and gladiator games.
2 Hour Shamanic Mix.
Set an Aztec ambush
The Mexica people of the Aztecs played one of two types of instruments: wind and percussion. Similar to other cultures, they developed professional musicians called ‘blowers and beaters.’ They carried important responsibilities of providing entertainment during festivals and musical rites for funerals, sacrificial rituals, and recounting the history of conquests. Blowers and beaters crafted drums, shakers, nutshell rattles, bells, flutes, whistles, rain sticks, conch trumpets, ocarinas, and whistling jugs in their arsenal to provide a national identity and troop movements in battle.
TraditionalJapanese music consisted of percussion, string, and wind instruments for various ceremonies of importance. Traditional music was broken down from three parent genres: shōmyō, gagaku,and folk music. Shōmyō is Buddhist chanting. Gagaku is imperial court music for high-level ceremonies. Folk music further broke down into four more sections: work music, religious music, festival music, and children’s music. The Samurai listened to and patronized the arts as a form of enrichment.