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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Music (M.M.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Cadences are call and response marching songs sung by military personnel during drill and ceremony. This music originated in the United States in 1943 and has spread to militaries across the world. It is typically heard at basic training installations where it is used to help resocialize trainees into soldiers and during unit physical training. The lyrics of cadences often engage with facts of military culture: exploring the reality of combat and military life, instilling motivation, and developing unit cohesion.

Scholarship in this field displays significant gaps when it comes to the development of the military cadence, which my thesis intends to address. Army historians, who have written extensively about cadences, discuss drill and ceremony practices from the Revolution and Civil War, but then they immediately jump to the Duckworth Chant (the modern origins of cadence in 1943). Any discussion of African American musical idioms, which I argue provide the foundation of the cadence, is curiously absent.

The purpose of this thesis is introduce the historical context of the origins of cadence, understand the musical parameters of its performance, and attempt to understand its impact on military culture.


First Advisor

Marianna Ritchey

Second Advisor

Ernie May

Included in

Musicology Commons