Music Appreciation: Armed Forces Salute by Bob Lowden
To those in the U.S., happy Memorial Day! Thank you to those who have served and sacrificed, doing a job that many of us couldn’t do. This will be a short post today, but I thought it was a good time to feature a piece that’s a favorite in community bands, especially during their summer seasons: Armed Forces Salute, arranged by Bob Lowden. I’ve played a few different service medleys over the years, but I like this one the best.
Part of what, to me, makes this a good arrangement is the transitions between pieces. They flow organically into one another – it’s not choppy or awkward. He also spreads the melody around. He doesn’t have the lead just sit in the trumpets for the entire piece. Listen throughout for countermelodies and complex harmonies – Lowden’s not content to have just the melody with a generic oom-pah accompaniment.
Lowden gives us several “Easter Eggs” in the piece. The first ones are easy to spot, right at the beginning of the piece. After the timpani roll at the beginning, he starts off with “America the Beautiful“. You can hear a snippet of “Dixie” at 0:18 in the low voices, followed by “Yankee Doodle” at 0:20 in the upper voices. The transition out of “The Caisson Song” is actually a quote from “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” (1:01). As we make the transition into “U.S. Air Force” (I love this transition), listen for “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” in the horns at 2:52. The next transition at 3:28 gives us “Battle Hymn of the Republic” in the saxes and clarinets. At 4:20 we get what I believe is a march quote from “Washington Post“, but it might be a different one (it can be difficult to keep all those marches straight!) Then at 4:24, the “Sailor’s Hornpipe” appears in the upper voices. Finally, we get a nod back to “America the Beautiful” at 4:26. Did I miss any?
Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday today!