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Pop Cultural Elements of Military Cadences

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Essay title: Pop Cultural Elements of Military Cadences

Pop Cultural Elements of Military Cadences

"HUT, TWO, THREE, FOUR...HUT, TWO, THREE, FOUR..." What do a bunch of grunts calling out raunchy marching cadences have to do with pop culture? There's more to the cadence then just keeping soldiers in step, there is a deep sense of pride, patriotism, unity, motivation, and nostalgia, which can be found within these songs. The Military cadence is used to motivate, inspire, and foster company cohesiveness while keeping soldiers steps in time and hands down the rich oral traditions of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air force. The cadence is a song sung when marching or running and the songs require a caller, who normally sets the pace and leads the formation. Like robots, the soldiers echoed their leader's sing-song" Jody Call" in beat to their pounding footsteps. The way a unit sounds while running or marching tends to reflect on that unit's morale and leadership. This paper will illustrate the similarities that cadences share with pop culture music through lyrical examples. As you will see, the lyrics of these cadences are expressions of individual feelings, goals, and fears, and are quite similar to the themes of other popular culture musical genres. The theories of subculture, appropriation and improvisation that have been proposed in lecture will be reviewed and illustrated within cadences. The military cadence as a subcultures oral tradition will be examined, through analyzing the theories of popular music which can be applied to the genres' history, structure, and socio-political influences.

History & Earlier Music

The cadence in America can be traced as far back as the American Revolution with Yankee Doodle. Historically it finds its roots in ancient armies marching to battles across foreign lands. The most significant song in this genra was created in May, 1944, by Pvt. Willie Duckworth, an African American soldier. This chant that we know today as the "Duckworth Chant" or "Sound Off", 1-2 sound off 3-4 is the most recognizable to the average person from its usages in movies and P.E. classes. The cadence has historical links to the field holler and work songs. Slaves sang about their oppressive environment while working tirelessly in the cotton fields. Similarly, the majority of cadences are reflective to the environment and training, which soldiers endure. These cadences share the themes of physical exertion, physical pain, and physical pleasure in the military atmosphere.


Early one morning in the pouring rain,

First Sergeant said it was time for pain,

He said, "Grab your rock and follow me!

Its time we do some rough P.T.!"

We jogged nine miles and then ran three,

The First Sergeant's yelling,"Follow me!"

Then we walked two miles and ran eight!

Oh, Airborne P.T. sure is great!


The article "Audiences" a study of subcultures, defines a subculture as an individual's social experience and cultural activities, shaped by gender, ethnicity, age and class. The military is a subculture of its own; its personnel come from the greater American culture with all its subcultures. The Military is organized unlike the rest of American society, with many smaller subcultures depending on branch; Army, Navy, Air force, Marines with smaller divisions, such as airborne rangers, navy seals, and the Special Forces. There is much competition between these branches and a deep sense of pride of being part of a particular branch. Therefore cadences reflect these branch partitions and traditions while fostering a "we are better than them" morale.

The Army, in turn, is a subculture of the greater military subculture, and each Army installation offers a microcosm of the Army culture that can be reflected in cadences. For instance one might be biased and believe that the Army is the most diverse, effective, and hardcore of all the branches. While the Army is getting down and dirty on the ground, the wimpy Navy is playing battleship, the dumb marines are pumping iron, and the prissy Air force is prancing around pushing buttons. And the same holds true for the other branches with different conceptions about each other. Therefore, a cadence might be made to reflect this branch differentiation, carrying this legacy of prejudice on. However,

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