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John Philip Sousa “The March King”. Early Life. Born November in 1854 in Washington, D.C. He was exposed to music at a young age by his father Antonio de Sousa, who was a trombone player in the U.S. Marine Band.

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early life
EarlyLife

Born November in 1854 in Washington, D.C.

He was exposed to music at a young age by his father Antonio de Sousa, who was a trombone player in the U.S. Marine Band.

At age 6, he began music and voice lessons, he was considered to have a ‘perfect pitch’ voice and studied a wide array of instruments.

He became a virtuoso with the violin, being his favorite instrument.

His love for music expanded and he sought to join a circus band.

His father wouldn’t allow it and made him join the Marine Corps at age 13 as an apprentice and there he gained much of his music knowledge.

building of a name
Building of a Name

Post-Marine Apprenticeship

The Conductor of The U.S. Marine Band

1880 marked his lead of the U.S. Marine Band.

A 12-year tenure was significant in creating famous American marches in military today.

He had strict devotion to the works and gained popularity from American people because of the devotion and American style themes.

  • His 7-year apprenticeship led him to pursue studies in musical theory.
  • He joined various theatrical groups and conducted for many other musical ensembles, gaining experience in conducting and music.
the sousa band
The Sousa Band
  • His step down from The U.S. Marine Band was the beginning of the world famous Sousa Band.
  • The Band toured the globe marking one of the first musical world tours ever.
  • The nickname, “The March King” was created due to the unique marches that he created.
sousa s golden years
Sousa’s Golden Years
  • His Sousa Band continued to travel around the world sharing the patriotic pieces until the 1910’s.
  • He then became a Naval Reserve Lieutenant at the age of 62.
  • He died of heart complications at the age of 77.
the march king s era
The March King’s Era

John Philip Sousa created some of the most iconic military marches that are used in modern military ceremonies today.

Along with his marches, he composed over 200 works of music.

He was hard-pressed on not recording his music because it would tarnish the music he created.

He was a major factor in the creation of the marching tuba called the Sousaphone.

He is revered as the Master of the March.

the listening guide
The Listening Guide

The Thunderer

The Washington Post

0:00: The song starts loudly with the brass and percussion sounding off as to inform that the song is starting in a smooth even beat.

0:07: Begins here is the first subject of the song, which ranges from high and low dynamic sounds in each of the two verses. The flute also joins, hearing it strongly through the piano style segments and not as strong through the forte style segments.

0:40: Subject two is shown with a highlighting of the trombones in a sweeping upward motion through the two verses.

1:11: A third subject appears and is continued throughout the rest of the piece in different variations. Here, the brass and the percussion have lowered and clarinet and flute joined in harmony playing the third subject.

1:25: A startling bellow from the trumpets, trombones, and tubas and bass drum end the first verse and introduce the next. Which repeats from last.

1:41: A larger bridged section once heard at the 1:25 mark introduces the second variation of subject three.

1:51: Enters the woodwinds and flute again with a larger role with the brass. A minor variation of a French horn is played in the background.

2:05: The bridge as heard at the 1:25 mark enters to introduce the coda of the song.

2:14: The third and final variation of subject three is introduced with a much larger presence of the brass. While the woodwinds and flutes are heard still, this final subject is meant to wrap up the entire arsenal of instruments and bring a show stopping affect to the end of the song.

  • 0:00: The initial theme and form is introduced with a large dynamic of percussion and two sets of trumpets playing in polyphony.
  • 0:04: Chiming in are the woodwinds accompanying the brass and percussion in a sub contextual way. The percussion gives dynamic booms to emphasize the woodwind high notes.
  • 0:19: The theme repeats again using similar form as the beginning. The alto trumpet is proclaimed louder here and gives another lower harmony of the initial form.
  • 0:35: The next subject is introduced with the same instruments but trumpets sounding off in 4’s while the background trumpets keep the same subject melody.
  • 0:50: Keeping the same melody is done by the brass while flutes come in with a cheery tune that lightens the section, and repeats.
  • 1:04: Start of the second subject of the song begins with the soft sound of flutes while the percussion keeps the same tempo as before, while the brass give slight distinctions of it’s presence towards the end of the flutes solo section.
  • 1:34: The flute is interrupted by a large brass section, which builds up the song with a snare drum roll and a flute triple note, this is done twice. Continued buildup is heard afterwards with the use of two large beats by all the instruments.
  • 1:50: The initial buildup is let down and enters is the flute solo again brining back the second subject as heard before.
  • 2:04: Again, as heard in the section starting at 1:34, the flutes do a triple note while the booming brass and percussion sound off.
  • 2:20: The second subject is now heard using all the instruments, with the brass, woodwinds and percussion playing the initial melody and the second set of brass playing a sub context of the melody all in a boisterous way.
  • 2:35: The song abruptly ends with percussion beats.
the listening guide cont
The Listening Guide (Cont.)

El Capitan

SemperFidelis

0:00: Sharp sounds of the percussion and short bursts of the brass create a hard-hitting sound to form the first subject of this piece. Drum roll eventually ushers in the subject.

0:07: A very precise march theme is heard here, tempo is very even and it highlights the brass with crashing cymbals at the end of each verse.

0:20: Between each verse the single trumpet and flutes bring the second verse into view.

0:40: The second subject starts in a arching way inn which is starts high and goes low to high and so on highlights different trumpets playing slight variations underneath the main melody of this particular verse.

1:11: A single snare drums roll gives a sense of unknown to what’s coming but establishes a bridge between the second and third subject.

1:19: A piano style melody is played by a solo trumpet with the background of trombones creating a ascending sound.

1:35: The flutes are added in triples to add depth to the melody being played and gives it a whimsical sound to it.

1:50: More trumpets, tubs and French horns are added to the mix to increase the depth of the melody started by the solo trumpet; they add different variations of the melody.

2:06: A slight stop indicates the step to the coda; all the instruments are played together in similar variations and the drum bass, the melody is repeated until the end, which has an abrupt stop.

  • 0:00: In the same style as many of his other marches, the first subject is introduced by a drum roll and brass accompaniment in a high-energy fashion.
  • 0:04: The first subject is sounded with a precise tempo and uses of all the instruments, none heard more than others.
  • 0:12: The first subject shows the long, almost sweeping low sounds of the brass instruments, showing the versatility. Afterwards the woodwinds establish a triple key lowering towards the end of the verse; this repeats.
  • 0:36: Very smoothly it transitions into a second subject with a higher pitched sounding of brass, its brought down by the woodwinds then back up by the brass. Between the two verses, a drum roll introduces the second.
  • 1:07: The sound of cymbals beckons the third subject into the piece. The tempo increases and the woodwinds provide slow ascension of pitch in triples that ends with dynamic crashes of the cymbals and bass drum. This continues a second time, as found in the other subjects.
  • 1:36: A bridge is created here with a high energy almost chaotic type rendition that steadily increases dynamic and pitch to usher in the fourth subject of the piece.
  • 1:44: As heard in many of his marches, there is a highlight of woodwinds as the percussion and brass ease back for a short time. There is a galloping sense created in the background by the woodwinds and the percussion.
  • 2:00: Almost without warning, the brass chimes in with the same melody creating a very strong coda. The underlying woodwinds and percussion keep the same melody as before until the finish of the song.
the listening guide cont1
The Listening Guide (Cont.)
  • The Stars and Stripes Forever
  • 0:00: There is jovial start in which all the instruments climb in pitch and the flute increases pitch to a screeching pitch to introduce the first subject.
  • 0:04: The first subject starts with the use of all instruments of all variations first using the flutes in the backgrounds and then the rest of the woodwinds take over the role.
  • 0:13: A soft woodwind part followed by a thundering low brass part to create the second verse of the first subject.
  • 0:35: A smooth transition into the second subject appears. The use of a ‘stepping down’ type sound created by the flutes is heard in between each beat of the brass and percussion.
  • 0:51: Again this ‘stepping’ sound is heard but it’s highlighted because of the relaxed brass and percussion. In between two of these soft verses, the brass and percussion bellow through.
  • 1:07: A slight pause is heard and the entrance of the third subject comes through, a very well known arrangement of instruments. The woodwinds are playing the melody while the brass varies a softer sound behind it.
  • 1:39: A dark, foreboding brass-enriched section is shown as a break between the first variation of the third subject, and the second variation. This section has many descending and points and descends greatly towards the end before the second variation is introduced. Many hard beats and tempo changes are heard throughout.
  • 2:03: The dissension softly transitions into the second variation of the third subject and the single flute gives a variation of the third subject in a very high pitch, much sounding like a small bird. Toward the end of the solo effort, a continuous trill is heard until the re introduction of foreboding descending bridge is heard.
  • 2:33: The descending bridge is once again heard to create another segwayinto the third subject, with little or no pause from this section to the coda.
  • 2:58: All instrument sections meet here for the finale. The trumpets and French horns leap frog with melodies and variations, while the flute continues its bird-like song and the dynamics increase to create a celebratory theme. The conglomerate verse repeats a second time and ends with a resounding cymbal crash and bass drum hit.