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Corps of Army Music

The Corps of Army Music (CAMUS) is a Corps of the British Army which was formed in 1994 following the defence review Options for Change. Bands wear the cap badges of employing Corps and Divisions or Regiments of Infantry. The primary role of Army Bands is to play music in support of the Army's moral component and to assist in its engagement with civilian communities. This musical contribution can be at home or abroad. Today's modern Army musicians are extremely capable and multi-talented. Not only are there marching and symphonic concert bands but almost any other musical ensemble from Strings to Rock Bands. The role of Army musicians is varied, from parading in marching bands outside Buckingham Palace to performing for the troops in operational theatres such as Afghanistan.

The formation of the Corps of Army Music was triggered by a Defence review known as Options for Change in the early 1990s and followed a 1993 announcement by the Chief of the General Staff that the number of Army bands was to be reduced from 69 to 29.

Her Majesty The Queen signed a warrant on 13 August 1994 to allow formation of the Corps of Army Music. This stated that it was Her will and pleasure that all officers who were Directors of Music in the various Corps and Regiments and that all Army musicians should transfer to the Corps of Army Music - now the newest and most junior Corps in the Army - on 1 September 1994.

It was a natural development that the home of the Corps should be at Kneller Hall in Twickenham, a site that encompasses the Headquarters the Corps of Army Music and the Royal Military School of Music. The school was founded by His Royal Highness Field Marshal the Duke of Cambridge, soon after his appointment as Commander in Chief in 1857, when the first class of military musicians was formed, a 'Class of Music'. The establishment was graciously retitled as The Royal Military School of Music in the Golden Jubilee year of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, 1887. A plaque to commemorate the Centenary of the School's opening was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1957 and, on the occasion of its 150th Anniversary, Her Majesty was further pleased to appoint Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex as Colonel-in-Chief.

The role of the Headquarters is to give direction and professional advice on Army music matters and develop and sustain the ethos of Army musicians wherever they serve in order to assist the Army's contribution to current and future defence capability.

Bands wear the cap badges of employing Corps and Divisions or Regiments of infantry and provide musical support subject to their availability as directed by Commander Regional Forces. Their major operational role is to provide a chemical decontamination capability in support of the Army Medical Services. The Royal Military School of Music plays a vital role for the Bands of the Army in shaping the attitudes, values and standards of musicians and in training those who are selected for the Bandmaster Course. Kneller Hall is also the home to a museum with a well-regarded collection of musical instruments and material for educational purposes: development of this collection is underway with a view to it becoming a fully-fledged Corps Museum.

The Future Army Structures review of 2006 saw the bands of the Regular Army reduced from 30 to 24 including that of the Brigade of Gurkhas, the only Corps of Army Music member of which is its Director of Music.

The Corps was further reduced in 2007 with the loss of the Band of the Royal Irish Regiment under NI normalization. There are now 23 Bands of the Regular Army.

Bands before Formation

The territorial bands that were around before the Options for Change were as follows;

  • Royal Yeomanry Band (The Inns of Court and City Yeomanry) (TA)
  • Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire Band (TA), 280th Medical Platoon (V) if mobilised
  • Hampshire and Dorsetshire Band (TA), 276th Medical Platoon (V) if mobilised
  • The Queen's Regiment Band (TA)
  • Band of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (TA), 262nd Medical Platoon (V) if mobilised
  • Devonshire Yeomanry Band (TA), 271st Medical Platoon (V) if mobilised
  • The Warwickshire Band, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (TA)
  • Mercian Band, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (TA)
  • Royal Regiment of Wales (TA) Band
  • Lancashire Artillery Band (TA)
  • South Nottinghamshire Hussars Yeomanry (RHA) Band (TA)
  • Band of the Royal Anglian Regiment (TA)
  • Army Medical Services Band (TA), 282nd Medical Platoon (V) if mobilised
  • 150th (Northumbrian) Regiment, Royal Corps of Transport Band (TA)
  • Burham Band of the 7th Battalion, The Light Infantry (TA)
  • Band of the 34th (Northern) Signals Regiment, late Royal Signals Band (Northern) (TA)
  • Band of the Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) (TA)
  • Band of the Royal Highland Fusiliers (TA), also known as the West Lowland Band
  • Band of the Director of Music (TA)
  • Band of the King's Royal Border Regiment
  • The Northumbria Band, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (TA)
  • Band of the 51st Highland Volunteers (TA)
  • Band of the Royal Scots (TA), also known as the East Lowland Band

Bands of the Corps

Drawn from the Corps:

  • Army Big Band
  • Corps of Army Music Sinfonietta
  • British Army Brass Band
  • Guards Brass Band


The Future of the Corps of Army Music

The Future Army Music 2020 (FAM2020) was published in August 2013. It contained information about how the Corps of Army Music would be restructured and better suited to enable sustainable musical support to be provided to the Army and Defence supporting operations and defence diplomacy.[2]

7x Symphonic wind bands supplying marching and traditional music 2x Wind bands supplying marching and traditional music 6x Multi capability bands supplying marching and contemporary music 3x Brass bands supplying marching and traditional music 1x String orchestra 3x Specialist bands supplying modern pop music [3]

These changes will be implemented between 2014 - 2018.

The world renowned regiments of The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals will have their Bands merged to form a single band of The Household Cavalry. It will become the largest Symphonic Wind Band in the Army manned with 64 personnel and be based in London. The Band will retain both regimental identities, working to a similar model as the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. This change will reduce the British Army from two (horse) mounted bands to one.

The five Foot Guards Bands will remain in London, as Symphonic Wind Bands and the Edinburgh-based Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland will grow to the same strength as the Foot Guards Bands, manned with 48 personnel.

A string orchestra will be cap-badged Corps of Army Music, but will be affiliated to the small corps of the Army, such as the Intelligence Corps and Army Medical Services, providing support to their ‘Golden Thread’ engagements. The string orchestra will be based in Woolwich and manned with 24 personnel.[4]

String players from the Foot Guards Bands will help form the nucleus of the newly formed String Orchestra (SO), meaning the Foot Guards Bands, along with the Household Cavalry and Royal Artillery Bands, will lose their string capability. The Royal Artillery Band will be re-located to the current band facilities at Tidworth and will be re-roled as a Multi Capability Band (MCB)and reduced to 35 personnel. The loss of the string capability to the Royal Artillery will bring to end Britain's oldest established orchestra: The Royal Artillery Orchestra [5] The musicians in The String Orchestra will not be required to perform on marching band instruments unlike The Royal Marines Band Service string players.

The 10 man strong Light Cavalry Band will be amalgamated with the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band to form the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps. The Band will be located at the current facilities at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick and manned with 35 personnel. This amalgamation, along with The Band of the Household Cavalry will see a 50% reduction in the number of British Army bands with a Cavalry tradition, whilst the 'Infantry' and 'Corps' will continue to maintain the same number of bands.

The Band of the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers will vacate Arborfield and re-role as a Specialist Contemporary Band serving the North, manned with 15 personnel They will co-locate with the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps in Catterick.

Both The Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Logistic Corps and the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers will increase in liability to 35 and re-role as multi capability bands (MCB). Both will stay in their current locations – though The Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Logistic Corps will eventually re-locate with their Headquarters to Worthy Down under Project WELLESLEY. The move of The Band and Corps of Drums of The Royal Logistic Corp will see three Regular Army Bands posted to the Winchester area as well as there no longer being a military band near to Aldershot Garrison, The Army Training Centre, Pirbright not the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

The Minden Band of The Queen's Division will be re-roled as a MCB, with liability returned to 35 remaining in the East Midlands.

The Band of The Royal Corps of Signals will be re-located to new band facilities in the West Midlands and will be re-roled as one of three new Brass Bands, manned with 32 personnel. This along with the disbandment of The Light Cavalry Band will see no regular army bands in the West of England as both bands leave Dorset.

The Band of the King's Division will be re-roled as a Brass Band, remaining in Weeton, manned with 32 personnel.

The Band of the Prince of Wales's Division will be re-roled as a Brass Band and relocated to South Wales, manned with 32 personnel. This will be the first time a regular army band has been posted to Wales since the formation of the Corps of Army Music in 1994.

Both the Band and Bugles of The Rifles in Winchester and the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas (not part of the Corps of Army Music)in Folkestone will remain as Wind Bands in their current locations, manned with 35 personnel.

The Band of the Adjutant General's Corps will also remain at their current facilities at Worthy Down, near Winchester, continuing as the SCB for the South, manned with 15 personnel.

The Band of the Parachute Regiment will remain in Colchester, re-roling as a MCB and manned with 35 personnel. The Band of Army Air Corps will join them in Colchester, re-roling as a SCB, manned at 15 personnel.[6] Prior to the formation of the Corps of Army Music, the Army Air Corps did not have its own band and with the manning of the Army Air Corps at 2,140 in 2012, it is smaller than the Army Medical Services who do not have their own regular band.[7]

Reaction to this announcement has been mixed on a social media website.[8]

The restructuring of the Corps of Army Music will not see a reduction in strength of the corps.[9]

Corps of Drums/Pipes and Drums

In addition to the regular bands, most Infantry battalions maintain their own independently administered musicians, either in the form of the Corps of Drums (for English and Welsh regiments) or the Pipes and Drums (for Scottish, Irish and Gurkha regiments). The Corps of Drums of an infantry battalion will usually feature drummers, buglers and flautists, while the Pipes and Drums will be formed of bagpipers and drummers. These bands are descended from the drummers and pipers who led infantry regiments in columns (first documented in 1854 at the Battle of Balaklava), and who used their drums or bugles to sound orders on the battlefield. Unlike the regular bands, these are first and foremost fully trained Infantry soldiers who form one of the battalion's specialist units, such as the mortar, anti-tank or machine-gun platoon. As a result, they are not part of the Corps of Army Music and in the case of the Pipes and Drums, are trained by the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming.

Reserve Army Bands

Prior to Options for Change and the formation of the Corps of Army Music most regiments, especially in the infantry, maintained their own military bands. This tradition is now continued by the Reserve Army, who retain regimental and corps bands. Reserve Army Bands are not part of the Corps of Army Music. They are still under the direct command of their parent corps or regiment.

There are currently 20 Reserve Military Bands located across the UK and Gibraltar [1]:

Headquarters Corps of Army Music HQ CAMUS

Role HQ CAMUS is responsible for the policy, organisation and running of the Corps including:

  • Guidance on the tasking of bands
  • Professional efficiency
  • Training
  • Future development
  • Recruiting
  • Manning
  • Career management
  • Appointment of personnel
  • Examining authority for trade qualifications
  • Websites and Social Media

Amongst these tasks, the Director and his staff conduct advisory visits to all CAMUS and TA bands. They check that the bands are able to perform all their roles to a high standard and that they are correctly administered.

Order of precedence

Preceded by
Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers


External links

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