Good marches

Good marches

Does anyone know any good marches that would preferably sound very good on the banjo?


Re: Good marches

good to who?

Posted .

Re: Good marches

Good to WHOM, you mean.

The Pikeman is a good march. Dunno if it would sound "very good" on the banjo. Not if I was the one playing it ๐Ÿ™‚


Re: Good marches

Or if I WERE the one playing it …

m.d. (if you can’t laugh at yourself)

Re: Good marches

Lots of Scottish pipe marches work well.

Try "Jim Christie of Wick" for starters.

Re: Good marches

That would depend on the player, but the tenor banjo lends itself well to marches. There are so many, but one favourite, because a friend played it often, is "The Centenary":

Be sure to find audio for any. Marches, like polkas, are too often throw away tunes, considered ‘for beginners’ by folks that often can’t do them justice as a consequence. They’re fun to play, and much of that ‘play’ is rhythmic. There are also some great recordings of marches to be found in Cape Breton traditional recordings.

Marches were a standard at dance, ceilis and country dances, and they were used for anything from couple dances to quadrilles and grand marches, also featuring in some ‘official’ ceili dances as well. They were considered an important part of a well rounded repertoire.

However, a consideration, is also the ‘level’ of your playing. Are you a beginner? - intermediate? - etc. As you’re asking this question I’d guess beginner, or near about there?

Damn! There’s still problems with connections, and in the mayhem other additions after Llig’s ~ Yess! "Pikeman’s" / "I Won’t be a Nun" / "Burning of the Piper’s Hut" ~

Marches are great for learning control of one’s tempo, and consequently RECOMMENDED especially for banjoists and bodhranistas… ๐Ÿ˜€

Re: Good marches

Scottish pipe march ’ The Bloody Fields of Flanders ’ works well on the banjo..

Dave H


"The Halting/Pikeman’s March"

"O’Sullivan’s March" (I Won’t be a Nun)

"Farewell to the Creeks"

"I Won’t Be A Nun"

"The Burning Of The Piper’s Hut"

In Discussion:

March to the music
# Posted on April 7th 2005 by the wounded hussar

First Principles First Tunes
# Posted on July 31st 2005 by ceolachan

6/8 marches
# Posted on April 6th 2007 by stupot

the centenary march
# Posted on May 18th 2007 by molloy

simple march
# Posted on June 16th 2008 by musical soul

Hundred Pipers
# Posted on September 5th 2008 by Laura Martin

# Posted on September 21st 2008 by Sean Williams

Clan March?
# Posted on January 5th 2009 by rudallcarte

What makes a march a march?
# Posted on April 29th 2009 by munchko

Marches in Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton
# Posted on April 28th 2011 by u01tcm7

Re: Good marches

Neither marches nor tenor banjos meet with universal approval, as has already been noted …

One problem you’ll find if you play marches at sessions (unless they are very well-known, like Pikeman’s and Centenary) is getting other folks to join in - either because they don’t know them, or because they just don’t like marches.

Not entirely sure of the reason - the association of marches with Orangemen in Northern Ireland may be one factor.

Notwithstanding the above, the tenor banjo is an ideal session instrument for marches.

One of my personal favourites is the March of the Men of Devon:

Notwithstanding the English title, it’s actually a Welsh tune (Ymdaith Gwyr Dyfnaint)

Ymdaith = march
Gwyr= men
Dyfnaint = Devon

Re: Good marches

It’s likely you know marches already that are now played,for example, as jigs… Here are a few ordered by member’s tunebooks entries, the higher ones not unknown in sessions. On these I’ve limited it to those with at least being listed in 100 tunebooks ~

"The Atholl Highlanders"
This tune has been added to 681 tunebooks.

"Star Of The County Down"
This tune has been added to 530 tunebooks.

"The Rakes Of Kildare"
This tune has been added to 492 tunebooks.

"Brian Boru’s March"
This tune has been added to 425 tunebooks.

"The Foggy Dew"
This tune has been added to 393 tunebooks.

"The Dawning Of The Day"
This tune has been added to 338 tunebooks.

"Lord Mayo"
This tune has been added to 326 tunebooks.

"March Of The Kings Of Laois"
This tune has been added to 233 tunebooks.

"Saint Patrick’s Day"
This tune has been added to 227 tunebooks.

"Return From Fingal"
This tune has been added to 202 tunebooks.

"The Munster Cloak"
This tune has been added to 194 tunebooks.

"Scotland The Brave"
This tune has been added to 172 tunebooks.

"Chanter’s Song"
This tune has been added to 162 tunebooks.

"The Mist On The Mountain"
This tune has been added to 154 tunebooks.

"Hundred Pipers"
This tune has been added to 147 tunebooks.

"Crossing The Minch"
This tune has been added to 127 tunebooks.

"The Drunken Piper"
This tune has been added to 124 tunebooks.

"The Irish Rover"
This tune has been added to 120 tunebooks.

"The Burnt Old Man"
This tune has been added to 111 tunebooks.

"The Foggy Dew"
This tune has been added to 105 tunebooks.

"Roddy McCorley"
This tune has been added to 103 tunebooks.

"The Eagle’s Whistle"
This tune has been added to 102 tunebooks.

Re: Good marches ~ a selection of other possibilities ๐Ÿ˜€

Others to consider ~ in alphabetical order:

"Allistrum’s March"

"Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine"

"The Boys From Wexford"

"Brian O’Kane’s March #1"

"Brian O’Kane’s March #2"

"Clare’s Dragoons"

"Doctor MacLeod Of Alnwick"

"The Downfall Of Paris"

"The Glencoe March"

"The Gordon Highlanders March" / "The Gay Gordons"

"The Inverness Gathering"

"The Jackets Green"

"Jamesy Gannon’s March"

"Joe Bane’s March"

"John O’Shea’s March" / "The Old Cross"


"The Meeting Of The Waters"

"Memories Of Father Angus MacDonnell"

"O’Donnell Abu"

"The Old Crossroads"

"Redford Cottage"

"Richard Deasy’s March"

"The Road To The Isles"

"Rory O’More"

"Sir Sidney Smith’s March"

Re: Good marches

Fingal’s Cave

This has been entered here as a strathspey but I picked it up as played on Johnny and Phil Cunningham’s album "Against The Storm" as a straightforward 4/4 tune, expressing a resolute feel but not played over-fast. I’d have thought this one would go well on the banjo.

Re: Good marches

Do you have a specific style, of banjo and of march, that you’re interested in? I have a friend who plays a few banjo-style instruments, and he finds it fairly difficult to make jig-time marches sound good, but 2/4 marches sound awesome. I’m sure we can find you lots of great tunes, but make sure you know what you want and what you can work with.


Posted by .

Re: Good marches

The senior ceili band competitions produce lots of good marches suitable for banjo. These include Paddy O’Brien’s,Brian O’Kane’s, Sean Nugent’s. Michael Rooney has a couple of excellent ones (The Rebels March being one). The Beauties of Autumn by John Brady is good. Ceili House on RTE broadcasts the All-Ireland senior bands in October, so it would be worth trawling the archives for tunes.

For something simpler try The Mountains of Pomeroy.

Posted by .

Re: Good marches

Because marches do not have a single meter, there is no category for them on this site, which can make them hard to find. I have always been partial to The Minstrel Boy, which makes a fine march when you give it that standard 120 BPM treatment. And a lot of tunes that people play as polkas work as marches. I first learned The Lakes of Sligo and The Rose Tree at march tempos.
IMHO, there should be more of them being played, they are a part of the tradition that shouldn’t be allowed to fade away.

Re: Good marches

Sliabh Aughty

Posted .

Re: Good marches

I won’t be a nun
Parnell’s March

Posted .

Re: Good marches

Tom McHaile’s playing of The Centenary followed by Hynes’ March is a blast! Hynes’ is a pretty good test of a whistle player’s abilities. Only wish Mr. McHaile were still around.

Re: Good marches

And if you are in a John Ford cavalry movie mood, there is always The Girl I Left Behind Me or The Garry Owen!

Re: Good marches

Thanks, C. (How come my old cassette tape from Walton’s music store has the spelling ‘McHaile?’)

The Fiddler’s Companion - Andrew Kuntz

You’ll find more interesting read there and transcriptions, for most of the suggestions already made…

Re: Good marches

(Al, I dare you to listen to the Newmarket polkas and not think of John Ford movie music.) Back to marches…

Re: Good marches

There are also a number of Bonaparte themed/related march titles; Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine and Bonaparte’s Retreat come immediately to mind.

Re: Good marches

Perhaps someone can explain to me what makes this a march. To me it’s a polka. Thanks in advance.

Here’s a tune transcribed by Sergeant Early, in Waifs & Strays #59, which I cannot located in the tunes section or find a recording;
Anyone know of a recording?

"Bonaparte’s Grand March"

Posted by .

Re: Good marches


What are you trying to tell me? That there are two tunes? I know. I like the one originally added to the database.

That it is American? Well So are some others mentioned?

Something my dense head has missed?

Enlighten me ;)

Re: Good marches

To me that Croppies March, as played by Touhey there, is clearly a march. Having said which, on occasions it does seem as if polkas and marches are almost interchangeable. But that version, as played, has a distinct, plodding, four-in-a-bar, straight on the beat feel that makes it different from a polka feel.

And then again, it gets complicated by the fact that there seem to be a few different ‘feels’ for polkas. There’s the ones sometimes cited as ‘the proper way to play polkas’ which have a weird, fast offbeat thing going on throughout. Then there’s yer two wacking great beats in a bar type that’s more common in sessions, it seems. There’s yer American polka, and yer 50s polka, four in a bar and slower, that formed part of the ‘polka craze’ of that time. And there are probably loads more little subtleties.

But they all sound different from a march. And Touhey seems there (to me) to be playing a march.

Old Time American (Irish-American) marches

AQ - the LP also had it misspelled.

cboody ~ the link to the syncopated version was just to wind you up and test you. But let’s not be too testy, eh. ๐Ÿ˜Ž And - it’s just damned good fun too… And yes, you can march to syncopated rhythms. It’s done all the time… And this is about ‘banjo’, so why not a bit of old time marchification too? There are some great ones.

Re: Good marches

A LOT of polkas had an earlier life as a march, and many followed that option after the great polka-explosions of the 1800s, and are still used for that purpose by pipe bands and other marching ensembles…

Re: Good marches

Pretty much any 2/4 tune can be marchified. Oh, and let’s not forget the great ballroom versions of ‘polkas’ - and the ever prevalent ‘grand march’ / ‘polonaise’ of the ballrooms of the 1800s and early 20th Century…

Re: Good marches

Cheers, e.b. & ceolachan. Ceol, when you wrote, "A LOT of polkas had an earlier life as a march," that really helped put it into perspective.

So, about "Bonaparte’s Grand March", where might I hear a recording of the tune?

Another Napoleonic march I found, but haven’t played yet is,
"Buonaparte’s Grand Parade March pp. 29-31 (35-37 pdf),_Marches,_Waltzes_%26_Rondos_%28Various%29
Also, have a look at the last tune in MacLeod’s book.

Posted by .

The Bonnie tunes ~ repeats first ๐Ÿ˜€

"Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine" - hornpipe
Submitted on May 17th 2001 by Jeremy.
"From Galway To Dublin" - hornpipe
Submitted on February 24th 2003 by gian marco.
"Bonaparte Crossing The Alps"
Submitted on May 22nd 2004 by slainte.
"The Battle Of Waterloo" / "Bonaparte Crossing The Rockies"
Submitted on March 6th 2011 by Joe CSS.


"Bonaparte’s Retreat March"
This tune has been added to 148 tunebooks.

"Bonaparte’s Retreat March"

"The Freemason’s March" / "Sherman’s March To The Sea" / "Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine"

"Bonapart’s Expedition"

Re: Good marches

I’ll download the McLeod manuscript and get back to you on that one Tawny.

I’m guessing you mean "Bonaparte’s Return to Paris from Elba"?

Re: Good marches

Yes, that’s the name; spelt ‘Bounaparte’.

Posted by .

Re: Good marches

I presume you mean "Buonaparte", don’t you, Tawny?

MacLeod’s book ~ [age 127 - the INDEX TO NUMBER FIRST.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - B - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bonaparte’s Grand Parade March. 29

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - ๐Ÿ˜Ž - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

‘p\age 127 ~ forget the [age - please!

MacLeod’s book ~ page 131 - INDEX TO NUMBER THIRD.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - B - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bath Waltz… … … … … … . 87
Berlin Waltz… … … … … . . 114
Bonaparte’s return to Paris… . 119
Britons strike home… … … … 91

Which Bonaparte was it you were after? See, this is what happens to you when you lose your beauty sleep… ๐Ÿ˜›

Re: Good marches

ethical blend, MacLeod using 3 different spelling of Napoleon’s surname; Buonaparte & Bounaparte in the manuscripts, & Bonaparte in the index.

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Re: Good marches

Ceolachan, I’m after the best of three Bonnie tunes, which ever turns out to be the best. ๐Ÿ˜‰
At first I was hoping to hear a recording of "Bonaparte’s Grand March". That tune is #59 in O’Neill’s Waifs & Strays"
Then I found "Bonaparte’s Grand Parade March" on page 29 in MacLeod’s book. Just adding to the lot; it can wait until you’re bright eyed & beautified with a good rest.
And then, to top it off, I noticed the last tune in MacLeod’s 3rd book is "Bonaparte’s return to Paris from Elba" I only mentioned it because I saw it by chance before posting comments about the 1st two.

Perhaps they’re each good tunes. I’ll play them tonight when I am home.

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Re: Good marches

@ceolachan Ah! Well I failed the test, but I don’t feel testy about it. I scarcely noticed the syncopated version. To me it was just a little variance, neither good nor bad. Lots of syncopated marches in my past….

Thanks for the enlightenment. Ommmm.

Re: Good marches

No, sorry 30 years !

(I should have got that right - I was happily sipping my pint being reminded of my (relative) youth at that concert in the 2nd clip)

The Betty Boop cartoon is titled "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" 1933

Posted by .

Re: Good marches

I do love Betty… ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m going to have to get back to messing around with those Bonnie tunes again, now that reading this has reminded me of my neglect there. ๐Ÿ˜€