30 March 2015


Several tunes played by traditional jazz bands started life as Marches, composed for brass bands or military bands or light orchestras.
Bugle Boy March is one of those tunes with an introduction and three sections (including a key change for the third). Many bands have it in their repertoire. This is not surprising because it has good melodies, an easy chord structure and a final theme on which it is easy to improvise.

Here's how it sounds to me. But if you want a really tidy version, go to the one prepared by the great and generous Lasse Collin:
As you can see, I have entered mine in one of my mini-filofaxes. This is how I hear and play it:
For my convenience (being a Bb instrument player), I have put it in the key of G, modulating to C at Section C.

So in fact its Concert Key is F, modulating in to Bb.

The final theme (C) is a straightforward 32 bars (16 + 16) and easy to present in various ways, with multifarious decorations.

The march was composed in 1907 by Francis A. Myers (1875 - 1960). Myers played clarinet for four years in the band of John Philip Sousa before going on to become a formidable band-leader, composer and music tutor.

Band-leaders like to tell their audiences the story (probably true) of how this tune got its name - Bugle Boy March.

Myers himself entitled it The American Soldier. But in the early days of rival jazz bands - particularly in New Orleans - when musicians discovered a good new tune such as this, they would play and learn it from the sheet music and then cut the title off the top of the music with scissors and give the tune another name. This was intended to make it hard for other bands to get hold of it!

So the name Bugle Boy March stuck; and is still preferred by jazzers.