Drum major (rank)

Drum major (rank)

The title Drum Major is an appointment, not a military rank.


Military Position

In the British Army, a Drum Major holds the rank of Sergeant, Staff Sergeant or Colour Sergeant, or Warrant Officer Class 2. Royal Air Force Drum Majors hold the rank of Chief Technician (Sergeant in the Air Training Corps), except for the Senior Drum Major RAF, who is a Flight Sergeant. The Royal Marines Band Service Drum Majors are Sergeants, Colour Sergeants or Warrant Officers Class 2, except for the Corps Drum Major, who is a Warrant Officer Class I. The Drum Major is always referred to and addressed as "Drum Major" or "Drummy" and not by his rank. The insignia of appointment is four point-up chevrons worn on a wrist-strap whilst in shirt-sleeve order, or four point-up large chevrons worn on the uniform sleeve, usually surmounted by a drum. Staff/Colour Sergeants have a small crown between the drum and the chevrons and Warrant Officers have the larger crown from their rank badge in its place. Since the Drum Major is part of the battalion staff, he wears a crimson sash instead of scarlet, and dresses as a Warrant Officer regardless of his rank.

The Australian Army traditionally follow the appointments along the same lines as the British Army. The Drum Major is always an experienced member of the Australian Army Band Corps, usually with the rank Sergeant, Warrant Officer Class 2 or Warrant Officer Class 1. However, the member of the unit with the highest or most senior of these ranks is not always the Drum Major. The ability[clarification needed] of the Drum Major is the main condition for the appointment.

In the Royal Marines Band Service the Drum Major always started his career as a side drummer (titled Bugler in the Royal Marines), and is normally required to have passed a number of courses in music, military skills, and leadership throughout his military career before he is considered for appointment as a Drum Major.

In the Corps of Army Music, Royal Air Force, United States Armed Forces and Canadian Forces, the Drum Major is not required to be a drummer, the appointment being held by any suitably qualified musician (including a drummer).

A Drum Major in most armed forces today is an appointment and not a rank.


The position of drum major originated in the British Army with Corps of Drums in 1650.[citation needed] Military groups performed mostly duty calls and battle signals during that period, and a fife and drum corps, directed by the drum major, would use short pieces to communicate to field units. With the arrival of military concert bands and pipe bands around the 18th century, the position of the drum major was adapted to those ensembles.

Traditionally, a military drum major was responsible for:

  • Defending the drummers and bandsmen (The drums and bugles were communication devices)
  • Military discipline of all Corps of Drums members
  • The Corps of Drums' overall standards of dress and deportment
  • Corps of Drums administrative work
  • Maintain the Corps of Drums' standard of military drill and choreograph marching movements

The drum major was also given duties in the battalion at several points in history, which included the administering of military justice (lashing), to any member of the battalion and collecting the battalion's post.

In addition to the duties above, The British Army also included a royal appointment of Drum Major General, whose duties included inspecting all other Field Music as well as (per The Drummer's Handbook) granting drummers licenses without which, one would not be recognized as a drummer. This position faded in the 18th century.

See also


External links

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