Our new armies have been badly served in this essential. Of all the admirable qualities which they have shown none is more wonderful than the spirit which has carried them through the laborious and distasteful groundwork of their calling without one note of music, except that which the same indomitable spirit provided out of their own heads. We have all seen them marching through the country, through the streets of London, in absolute silence and the crowds through which they passed as silent as themselves for the lack of the one medium that could convey and glorify the thoughts that are in us all today.
We are a tongue-tied brood at the best. The bands can declare on our behalf without shame and without shyness something of what we all feel and help us to reach a hand toward the men who have risen up to save us. In the beginning the more urgent requirements of the new armies overrode all other considerations. Now we can get to work on some other essentials. The War Office has authorized the formation of bands for some of the London battalions, and we may hope presently to see the permission extended throughout Great Britain. We must not, however, cherish unbridled musical ambitions, because a full band means more than forty pieces, and on that establishment we should even now require a rather large number of men; but I think it might be possible to provide drums and fifes for every battalion, full bands at the depots, and a proportion of battalion bands on half, or even one-third, establishments.
But this is not a matter to be settled by laymen; it must be discussed seriously between bandmasters and musicians—present, past, and dug up. [Laughter.] They may be trusted to give their services with enthusiasm. We have had many proofs in the last six months that people only want to know what the new army needs, and it will be gladly and cheerfully given. The army needs music, its own music, for, more than in any other calling, soldiers do not live by bread alone. From time immemorial the man who offers his life for his land has been compassed at every turn of his service with elaborate ceremonial and observance, of which music is no small part, all carefully designed to support and uphold him. It is not seemly and it is not expedient that any portion of that ritual should be slurred or omitted now. [Cheers.]
How the United States May Take the Lead in the Formation of a World Confederation for the Prevention of Future Wars
By Norman Angell