282,656 Pages

The title "drum major" is an appointment, not a military rank.

A Tambour-Major of the French Imperial Guard (historical reenactment)

Military position[edit | edit source]

The Royal Marines Band Service drum majors are senior non commissioned officers, either sergeants, colour sergeants or warrant officers class 2, except for the Corps Drum Major, who is a warrant officer Class 1. Royal Marines drum majors are now always drawn from the buglers branch and always start their careers as a side drummer (titled "bugler" in the Royal Marines, as RM Drummers are taught to play Drums, Herald Trumpets AND Bugles) and are required to have passed a number of courses in music, military skills and leadership courses throughout their military careers before being considered for an appointment as a drum major. 

The drum major is always referred to and addressed as "Drum Major" or "Sir" and not by his rank. The insignia of appointment is four inverted chevrons worn on a wrist-strap whilst in shirt-sleeve order, or four inverted large chevrons worn on the uniform sleeve, surmounted by a drum.

In the British Army, a drum major holds the rank of sergeant, staff sergeant or colour sergeant, or warrant officer class 2. Royal Air Force drum majors hold the rank of chief technician (sergeant in the Air Training Corps), except for the Senior Drum Major RAF, who is a flight sergeant. In the British Army, Staff/colour sergeants have a small crown between the drum and the chevrons and warrant officers have the larger crown from their rank badge in its place. Since the drum major is part of the battalion staff, he wears a crimson sash instead of scarlet, and dresses as a warrant officer regardless of his rank.

The Australian Army traditionally styles the appointments along the same lines as the British Army. The drum major is always an experienced member of the Australian Army Band Corps, usually with the rank of sergeant, warrant officer class 2 or warrant officer class 1. However, capability is the main qualification for appointment: the most senior or highest-ranked member of the unit is not always the drum major.

In the Corps of Army Music, Royal Air Force, United States Armed Forces and Canadian Forces, the drum major is not required to be a drummer, the appointment being held by any suitably qualified musician (including a drummer). In most armed forces, a drum major is an appointment, not a rank.

History[edit | edit source]

The position of drum major originated in the British Army with the Corps of Drums in 1650.[citation needed] Military groups performed mostly duty calls and battle signals during that period, and a fife and drum corps, directed by the drum major, would execute short pieces to communicate to field units. With the arrival of military concert bands and pipe bands around the 18th century, the position of the drum major was adapted to those ensembles.

Traditionally, a military drum major was responsible for:

  • Defending the drummers and bandsmen (The drums and bugles were communication devices)
  • Military discipline of all corps of drums members
  • Overall standards of dress and deportment of the corps of drums
  • Corps of drums administrative work
  • Maintain the corps of drums' standard of military drill, and choreograph marching movements

The drum major was also given duties in the battalion at several points in history, which included the administering of military justice (lashing), to any member of the battalion, and collecting the battalion's post.

In addition to the duties above, The British Army also included a royal appointment of Drum Major General, whose duties included inspecting all other field music as well as (per The Drummer's Handbook) granting drummers licences, without which one would not be recognized as a drummer. This position was discontinued in the 18th century.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from [[Wikipedia:Drum major (military) Wikipedia]] (view authors).
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.