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There are pleasures associated with Great Britain having a long and illustrious history. An example of which was an announcement in the Daily Telegraph, Court & Social pages on 11th October 2016 in which I couldn’t help noticing  mention of an inaugural Scutari Dinner held by the Corps of (British) Army Music at the Royal Military School of Music (RMSM), Kneller Hall where, we are informed, "the band performed the National Anthem appallingly".

However, my initial surprise and horror turned to amusement when I recalled that the RMSM was established in 1857 at the instigation of Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, the commander-in-chief of the army. In 1854 he had attended a parade in Scutari, in Turkey, to celebrate the Queen's birthday. The twenty British Army bands on parade were required to combine in a performance of the national anthem. The custom, at that time, was for regiments to hire civilian bandmasters for their bands, each of whom had free rein in both the instrumentation of the band and the arrangements it played.

With each band playing God Save the Queen simultaneously in different arrangements and keys the result was an embarrassing and humiliating cacophony. The Duke decided that there should be some standardisation in army music and so formed the RMSM. The 'appalling' rendition at the inaugural dinner was therefore a suitable commemoration.

Does anyone have knowledge of similarly entertaining tales relating to music generally or to military music specifically?

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Bagpipes were considered a weapon of war until 1996.

A piper was captured at the battle of Culloden and taken to trial as a traitor to the crown. He argued that he was not carrying any weapons just his pipes. The judge, not wanting to release him, ruled that as pipers signal the attack for their regiment the pipes must be a weapon of war.

The piper was hung, drawn and quartered.

On a lighter note........

" terrorists hijacked a plane on the ground carrying a pipe band going to the tattoo. They threatened to release a piper every hour their demands were not met."

I grew up playing trumpet in school. So I was in concert and marching band. We performed in parades and football halftime shows. In marching band, the "show must go on" no matter what. I was sick during one major halftime show in the LA Coliseum. Dizzy and not totally sure what was going on, we stopped down on one knee for for an instant, where I threw up. Feeling better, I was able to go on. 

And speaking of the National Anthem, as drum major the next year, I once directed the Star Spangled Banner so slow that I'm surprised no one stopped me. Oh well.

On a coolness factor note, My daughter is a theater major. Once she, my wife and I were in a summer production of "Brigadoon". It takes place in Scotland and when one of the characters dies, there is a funeral. The director added pipers to the show and the funeral procession wound through the audience with the pipers playing "Flowers of the Forest". It was very moving indeed.

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