Beating Retreat is a military ceremony dating to 16th century England and was first used to recall nearby patrolling units to their castle.
Originally it was known as watch setting and was initiated at sunset by the firing of a single round from the evening gun.
An order from the army of James II (England), otherwise James VII of Scotland dated to 18 June 1690 had his drums beating an order for his troops to retreat and a later order, from William III in 1694 read "The Drum Major and Drummers of the Regiment which gives a Captain of the Main Guard are to beat the Retreat through the large street, or as may be ordered. They are to be answered by all the Drummers of the guards, and by four Drummers of each Regiment in their respective Quarters". However, either or both orders may refer to the ceremonial tattoo.
For the first time ever in England, a foreign band was allowed to play at the Beating Retreat on 5 June 2008. This band was that of the first Battalion Royal Malay Regiment, who had been helping to guard London, by mounting guards at the palaces. Amongst their performance pieces were arrangements of number of well known pieces from Film.
The 2nd time this happened was during the June 2014 edition honouring the 70th year since D-Day, with two bands from the French Armed Forces and including the Royal Yeomanry and the Honourable Artillery Company.
These days, most armed forces in the Commonwealth perform some ceremonial form of the retreat and it is often used as a proving test for new band members as well as a practice for difficult drill moves such as the Spin Wheel. The ceremonies generally involve the marching of a band, the firing of cannon and other decorative presentations. In many cases a castle is used as a prop or a backdrop for the parade (as in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo).
The London version takes place on Horse Guards Parade. Each year, on the Wednesday and Thursday evenings preceding Trooping the Colour, the Massed Bands, Pipes and Drums and Corps of Drums of the Household Division, supported by The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and visiting military bands from other services around the world perform a sunset concert involving precision drill, horses, cannons and fireworks in time with the music. Historically, on at least one evening, a senior member of the British Royal Family has attended and taken the salute.
The concert raises money for the Army Benevolent Fund the Household Division Charitable Funds, which provide improved welfare and opportunities to Household Division serving soldiers and veterans.
The Massed Bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, numbering some two hundred, perform their Beating Retreat ceremony every two years (formerly 3 years) at London's Horse Guards Parade in celebration of the birthday of their Captain General, Prince Harry (as of 2018). Because of its popularity, it is generally over three nights.
The most recent events were in June 2012 in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, in June 2014 in honour of the RM's 350 years of service to the nation and also the first to feature a guard of honour company from 40 Commando Brigade and bands from the United States Marine Corps and the Netherlands Marine Corps, and in June 2016, also marking the 90th birthday of HM the Queen and the first to be streamed live on Facebook. The latest event was slated for a May 2018 date, marking the 65th anniversary of the 1953 Coronation of HM the Queen and will be followed by another in 2020, marking the 75th diamond jubilee since the conclusion of the Second World War and the 70th anniversary of the current Band Service.
The Royal Marines ceremony should not be confused with that of the Army which takes place every year, also in June. 4 to 5 bands belonging to the Royal Marines Band Service compose the Massed Bands for the ceremony. The ceremony's charity partner is the RNRMC.
Sounding Retreat is the variant form of the ceremony done by the Band of The Rifles, and formerly of the bands of the Light Division. The reason is that bugles are used in the ceremony in sounding Sunset (known as Retreat in the Army), given the origins of the British light infantry branch.
The Bands of the Rifles and the Brigade of Gurkhas, together with the buglers from the former and the Light Division Buglers Association, mounted on 31 May and 1 June 2016 the first ever Sounding Retreat on Horse Guards Parade since 1993 and the creation of the Band of the Rifles (formerly Light Division) on the basis of the battalion bands of both The Light Infantry and the Royal Green Jackets, themselves descendants of the precessesor light infantry and rifle regimental bands of the British Army before the 1968 creation of the LD.
The Australian Defence Force traditional ceremony of Beating Retreat was handed down from the British Army. The first ceremony including performance of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" was held at the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1968. Although this inaugural performance was a relatively low-key affair, the ceremony has since become an annual event at RMC and is well supported by the service community and the general public. The modern ceremony is thought to have its origins in the 16th century and combines three customs.
The first custom was originally performed by drummers only, marching on the ramparts to warn the soldiers that evening guard duties would soon commence. It also signalled soldiers outside the fortifications and labourers in the fields that the gates were about to be closed and they should retire within the walls for the night.
The second custom was practised on battlefields in past times when the fighting ceased at sunset. Following the Beating Retreat, many of the old regiments would say a prayer or sing a hymn in honour of their fallen, and the evening guard would fire three musket volleys "to put flight to the evil spirits of the enemy dead".
The final custom derives from the practice of lodging the Regimental Colour in the Colour Ensign's quarter when the evening guard was mounted. In modern times, that custom was replaced by the lowering of the national flag.
The ceremony included parade ground marching, changing of the sentries, trooping of the Regimental Colour, inspection of the guards, firing of the evening gun, guards advance and volley firing (with the service issue Steyr AUG), evening hymn, retreat and lowering of the Australian flag, the pipers lament and marching off of the Regimental Colour.
Music was performed by an ensemble of the Royal Military College Band and the Australian Army Band Tasmania, and included "All That Jazz" from the musical Chicago, Michael Bublé's "Spider-Man Theme", Christina Aguilera's "Candyman", the Celtic instrumental "Toss the Feathers" and instrumental versions of Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" and two Elvis Presley songs (in a "Tribute to the King").
The ceremony culminated with the "1812 Overture" accompanied by a battery of 105 mm Hamel light field guns, and a 5-minute fireworks display.
The annual Fortissimo Sunset Ceremony in of the Canadian Forces is the Canadian equivalent to the beating retreat ceremony. It held on the grounds of Parliament Hill in the capital of Ottawa and is organized by the Ceremonial Guard and it's combined bands. The ceremony is unique in that it combines the Beating Retreat ceremonies with that of military tattoos and the lowering of the Canadian flag.
In India it officially denotes the end of Republic Day festivities. It is conducted on the evening of 29 January, the third day after the Republic Day. It is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, and pipe bands from the Army, plus from 2016 a massed formation of bands of the Central Armed Police Forces and the Delhi Police. The venue is Raisina Hills and an adjacent square, Vijay Chowk, flanked by the North and South blocks of the Central Secretariat and the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's Palace) towards the end of Rajpath.
The ceremony was started in the early 1950s when Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were visiting India for the first time after independence. The then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru summoned Maj. G.A. Roberts, an officer in The Grenadiers, asking him to do something spectacularly creative and eventful for Elizabeth's visit. Roberts thus officially conceived of the Beating Retreat in honour of the visit, by developing the ceremony of display by the massed bands. Army, Air Force and Navy bands consisting of pipes, drums, buglers and trumpeters from various regiments took part. The ceremony is a legacy of British rule in India. Thereafter it became an official ceremony to have a Head of State of a country as the chief guest and that year the Beating Retreat was in their honour.
The chief guest of the function is the President of India who arrives escorted by the President's Bodyguard (PBG). When the President arrives, a fanfare is sounded by the trumpeters of the Brigade of the Guards on their fanfare trumpets, and then the PBG commander asks the unit to give the national salute, which is followed by the playing of the Indian national anthem, Jana Gana Mana, by the massed bands, and at the same time by the unfurling of the flag of India on the flagpole right at the Vijay Chowk.
The ceremony starts by the massed bands of the three services marching in unison, playing popular marching tunes like Colonel Bogey March, Sons of the Brave and Qadam Qadam Badaye Ja. The fanfare by the buglers is then followed by the bands of the Indian Army marching forward in quick time, then breaking into slow time, then by the "compound march" involving movements to form intricate and beautiful patterns. The massed military bands, again, breaks into quick time and goes back to the farthest end of Raisina Hills. Then the pipes and drums of the Indian Army play traditional Scottish tunes and Indian tunes like Gurkha Brigade, Neer's Sagar Samraat and Chaandni. This band also does a compound march and formation numbers. The last bands to perform are the combined bands of the Navy and the Air Force. This part of the ceremony ends with their compound march. One such beating retreat ceremony by the Armed Forces bands was during the 1982 Asian Games closing ceremony in New Delhi, for which the credit went to the Indian Army's retired music director Harold Joseph, and the Indian Navy's Jerome Rodrigues and M.S. Neer, some of the greatest musicians, conductors, composers and instrumentalists of the Indian Armed Forces bands, who had led the massed bands at the ceremony.
Aside from these, the 2016 retreat saw the first appearance of marching bands from Central Armed Police Forces and the Delhi Police, plus performances by the Army Symphony Orchestra and Traditional Ensemble, the latter using a mix of traditional European and Indian instruments. The use of certain Indian instruments which require the musician to sit down while playing are a departure from the concept of the ceremony being one that is usually executed by musicians while marching. The appearance of Police Forces was a recognition of their role being as vital as that of the Indian Armed Forces.
All four band contingents march forward and take position close to the President's seat. The drummers, mostly from the Army's pipe bands, give a solo performance, known as the Drummer's Call. A regular feature of this pageant is the last tune played before the Retreat, when the national flag is lowered. It is the famous hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte, Abide With Me set to music by William Henry Monk and one of Mahatma Gandhi's personal favorite hymns, and has remained part of the ceremony over the years when many other foreign tunes were phased out to make way for Indian tunes, especially during the 2011 ceremony. The chimes made by the tubular bells, placed quite at a distance, creates a mesmerising ambiance.
This is followed by the bugle call for sunset by the buglers, and all the flags are slowly brought down. The band master then marches to the President and requests permission to take the bands away, and informs that the closing ceremony is now complete. The bands march back playing a popular martial tune and the official march of the Armed Forces, Sare Jahan se Accha. As soon as the bands cross Raisina Hills a spectacular illumination display is set up on the North and South Blocks of the Parliament building. As the President's Bodyguard (PBG) horse mounted troops arrive back in after the bands leave, the band stops as another band from the Army is stationed to play the national anthem again as the President receives the final salute for the day by the PBG, before the President and the PBG depart with the bands leading the way, dispersed on the Rajpath leading to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Secretariat Buildings.
In the past, this finale was also followed up by a short fireworks display.
The Wagah border closing 'lowering of the flags' ceremony is a daily military practice that the security forces of India (Border Security Force) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959.
The Beating Retreat of the massed pipe and brass bands of the Royal Jordanian Army is held in the national capital of Amman. In attendance is usually the King and Queen of Jordan, as well as many other senior members of the House of Hashim, the Government, and the military establishment. The ceremony is held in connection with the celebrations of Independence Day, Army Day and the Great Arab Revolt (held in May, June and September respectively). The ceremony has taken place annually since the early 1950s, when it was introduced by King Hussein of Jordan. Organized by the Royal Guard, the tattoo features the Jordanian Armed Forces Band, the Al Hussein Musical Pipe Band, the armed forces drill team, and a camel mounted equestrian drill team.
The "Ceremony of Beating Retreat" takes place annually at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and usually includes the USMMA Band and selected midshipmen. The ceremony takes place on a parent weekend, in order to give parents of midshipmen an opportunity to attend. Besides this, the United States Marine Corps Friday Evening Parade and Sunset Parade are the closest military equivalent to the Household Division Beating Retreat. Both parades are military tattoos that are performed by the troops of Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., who are personnel of the USMC, thus they are more modeled on the biannual Royal Marines ceremony.
List of Foot Guards Bands:
"Abide with Me" is a Christian hymn by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte most often sung to English composer William Henry Monk's tune entitled Eventide. It was written in Crossabeg, County Wexford, Ireland, in Artramon House.
Lyte wrote the poem in 1847, during the Great Famine, and set it to music while he lay dying from tuberculosis; he survived only a further three weeks after its completion.Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas
The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas is a British military band based at Shorncliffe. It supports the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas in ceremonial settings and represents the brigade by performing at musical events. It is a directly reporting unit of the Corps of Army Music (CAMUS), which sponsors the promotion of British military music. It is one of two 35 member wind bands in the CAMUS. (the other being the Band and Bugles of The Rifles). The band has travelled extensively since its inception, travelling more recently to Australia, Brunei, Canada, France, Germany, Nepal, Belgium. Today, musicians are recruited when they complete basic military training, with musical instruction commencing first under Director of Music (DOM) and then under supervision of the Royal Military School of Music.Band of the Scots Guards
The Band of the Scots Guards is one of five bands in the Foot Guards Regiments in the Household Division which primarily guards the British monarch.
The band is based at Wellington Barracks in St James's, London, which is the same place as for all the foot guards bands. The band should not be confused with the Pipes and Drums, which is a separate entity comprising fighting soldiers who are also pipers, rather than full-time professional musicians.Beat Surrender
"Beat Surrender" was The Jam's final single, and was released on 22 November 1982. It became the band's fourth No. 1 hit in the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in December 1982.Central Band of the Royal Malay Regiment
The Central Band of the Royal Malay Regiment (Malay: Pancaragam Pusat Rejimen Melayu Diraja, PPRAMD) is the official central band of the Malaysian Army's Royal Malay Regiment that is dedicated to providing ceremonial honours and music to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It is the Army's seniormost band. It is considered the equivalent to the 5 regimental bands of the Foot Guards.Delhi Republic Day parade
The Delhi Republic Day parade is the largest and most important of the parades marking the Republic Day celebrations in India. The parade takes place every year on 26 January at Rajpath, New Delhi. It is the main attraction of India's Republic Day celebrations, which last for 3 days. The parade showcases India's defence capability and its cultural and social heritage.Fortissimo Sunset Ceremony
The Fortissimo Sunset Ceremony is an annual Canadian military music event held on the grounds of Parliament Hill in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.
The ceremony is a combination of the historical Beating Retreat event which originated in the United Kingdom, a regular military tattoo, and the lowering of the Canadian flag. The ceremony, which usually takes on a July evening, is mainly sponsored by the Ceremonial Guard, which is also the main event at the festival. Like its name implies, the guard serves ceremonial public duties inside the Canadian capital. In previous years, foreign drill units have also taken part in the tattoo, including units such as the German Navy Silent Drill Team, the Band of America’s Few, the Bermuda Regiment Band, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band.Horse Guards Parade
Horse Guards Parade is a large parade ground off Whitehall in central London, at grid reference TQ299800. It is the site of the annual ceremonies of Trooping the Colour, which commemorates the monarch's official birthday, and Beating Retreat.Household Cavalry
The Household Cavalry (HCav) is made up of the two most senior regiments of the British Army, the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons). These regiments are divided between the Armoured Regiment stationed at Combermere Barracks in Windsor and the ceremonial mounted unit, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, garrisoned at Hyde Park Barracks (Knightsbridge Barracks) in London. The Household Cavalry is part of the Household Division and is the Queen's official bodyguard.Rajpath
Rajpath (constructed as and formerly named King's Way during the period of the British Raj) is a ceremonial boulevard in New Delhi, India, that runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan on Raisina Hill through Vijay Chowk and India Gate, National War Memorial (India) to National Stadium, Delhi. The avenue is lined on both sides by huge lawns, canals and rows of trees. Considered to be one of the most important roads in India, it is where the annual Republic Day parade takes place on 26 January. Janpath (meaning "People's Way") crosses the road. Rajpath runs in east-west direction. Roads from Connaught Place, the financial centre of Delhi, run into Rajpath from north.
After climbing Raisina Hill, Rajpath is flanked by the North and South Blocks of the Secretariat Building. Finally it ends at the gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan. At Vijay Chowk it crosses Sansad Marg, and the Parliament House of India can be seen to the right when coming from the India Gate.
It is also used for the funeral processions of key political leaders of India. The opening scene of the movie Gandhi starts at Rajpath.Republic Day (India)
Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.The Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country's transition towards becoming an independent republic. 26 January was chosen as the Republic day because it was on this day in 1929 when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress as opposed to the Dominion status offered by the British Regime.Rotterdam Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy
The Rotterdam Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy, also referred to as the Band of the Korps Mariniers or simply the Dutch Marine Band (Dutch: Marinierskapel der Koninklijke Marine) is the Royal Netherlands Navy's official musical unit. Like Britain's Royal Marines Band Service it is the representative band of the entire navy despite being a reporting unit of the Korps Mariners, as sub-branch in the Dutch Armed Forces. Based in the port city of Rotterdam, the band was founded on 1 August 1945 as a continuation of the pre-war Regimental Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy.The regimental band was established in 1864 by order of William III, the then King of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg. When the Korps Mariner was founded in 1665, special drummer units had been attached to marine battalions, with the sole purpose of indicating the rhythm while marching. Around 1699, fifes were also added, which would give the entire unit a resemblance to a British Corps of Drums. During its 1864 establishment, the corps of drums was expanded to become a full wind band. It was dissolved in 1940 due to the involvement of the Netherlands in World War II and the Battle of the Netherlands.
Today, it supports all marine and national events, including Koningsdag, Prinsjesdag, Veteranendag and Dutch Armed Forces Day as well as service days for the marines such as 10 December and 1 August. The band has also performed alongisde other military bands representing the naval infantry of other countries, performing with the Royal Marines Band Service and the 2nd Marine Division Band (United States Marine Corps) on Horse Guards Parade during the 2014 Beating Retreat. It has also performed several times in Russia touring to St. Petersburg in 1997 and 2003 (the former being in honor of the as part of the celebrations of 300th anniversary of Peter the Great) and the 2013 Spasskaya Tower Military Music Festival and Tattoo. During its visits to Russia, it has also performed with the Central Navy Band of Russia. It has also performed with units such as the United States Marine Band, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Band and the United States Navy Band.Royal Bahamas Police Force Band
The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band is the official police band of Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF). Also referred to as the RBPF Band, it is the main musical support unit in the one of Bahamas. On special occasions, the RBPF Band can be seen at many state events and performances, such as the Changing of the Guard at the Government House and the Beating Retreat on Bay Street. It has also taken part in many historical events since the country's independence from the United Kingdom in 1973. Events of this nature include leading the funeral procession in honor of former Prime Minister Lynden Pindling in 2000, and the 75th anniversary of the RBPF in 2015. It has also been depicted on the reverse side of the $1 banknote of the Bahamian dollar. Their full uniform is composed of white tunics, navy trousers, and a white, spiked, Pith helmet. The RBPF Band was founded in 1893 with at least 12 NCO's and by the early 1960s, had performed in every major country in the world. It is currently located at the Royal Bahamas Police Force Headquarters on East Street in the capital of Nassau.Sunset (bugle call)
Sunset, also known as the Retreat Call, is a bugle call played in United Kingdom and British Commonwealth countries to signal the end of the official military day. In common with all bugle calls, it consists only of notes from a single overtone series. This allows it to be playable on a bugle or equivalently on a trumpet without moving the valves.
The call is regularly heard performed in an arrangement for full military band by Captain A.C. Green (1888–1974), who was Director of the Royal Naval School of Music's Junior Wing on the Isle of Man.The arrangement was composed aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in response to Admiral Fisher's desire for a "spectacular show" and was first performed in 1932 by the Massed Bands and Bugles of the Mediterranean Fleet. The Sunset call is now a regular part of the Royal Marines' "Beat the Retreat" ceremony, the call's melody also gives its name to "Sunset Parades" given in commemoration of former military conflicts. It is traditional to stand for the performance of the piece.
Trumpet & Bugle Calls for the British Army marks this call for Royal Artillery units only. The call would then be sounded on an E♭ Cavalry Trumpet.The Rifles
The Rifles is an infantry regiment of the British Army. Formed in 2007, it consists of five Regular and three Reserve battalions, plus a number of companies in other Army Reserve battalions. Each battalion of The Rifles was formerly an individual battalion of one of the two large regiments of the Light Division (with the exception of the 1st Battalion, which is an amalgamation of two individual regiments). Since formation the regiment has been involved in combat operations, first in the later stages of the Iraq War and in the War in Afghanistan.Tim Heald
Tim Villiers Heald FRSL (28 January 1944 – 20 November 2016) was a British author, biographer, journalist and public speaker.Tri-Services Band
The Tri-Services Band consists of musicians from the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. The band regularly participates in international festivals and takes part in celebrations dedicated to various national events. The band is a permanent participant in the Delhi Republic Day parade on the Rajpath. The Director of Music of the band is Girish Kumar Unnikrishnan. The band comprises 7 officers and 55 musicians.United States Army Europe Band and Chorus
The United States Army Europe Band and Chorus a musical component of the United States Army, composed of army musicians who serve under the USAREUR. It is currently based in the German city of Sembach, being subordinated to the Headquarters Battalion, USAREUR, in Wiesbaden. Its components include a 100+ concert and ceremonial ensemble. It is currently under the musical command of Major Randall S. Bartel. The band members enter the band as musicians while singers are selectively chosen through Army auditions. The combined band and chorus perform in 200+ events per year all over the European continent.United States Merchant Marine Academy Regimental Band
The United States Merchant Marine Academy Regimental Band designated as "George M. Cohen's Own" is a United States military band and college marching band that currently serves as the official marching band of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The USMMA is the only service academy outside of the six senior military colleges, to maintain a cadet-staffed band for musical purposes. The band, unlike other musical units of service academies, is a co-located full-time ensemble. The band mainly provides ceremonial support for protocol ceremonies and athletic events. It performs A Life on the Ocean Wave, the official march of the USMMA and the Star Spangled Banner at all cermeonies. The modern band succeeded a full-time band that was deactivated following World War II. The band is currently led by Lieutenant Commander Bob Nixon, succeeding Captain Kenneth Force who served with the band from 1971 – 2016.The 35-piece band maintains the following ensembles at its disposal: