Beating Retreat martial tunes enthral

Saturday, January 29, 2011

NEW DELHI - Indian military bands enthralled guests with scintillating martial tunes at the Beating Retreat ceremony at Vijay Chowk in central Delhi Saturday evening, bringing to an end the 62nd Republic Day celebrations.

This was probably the first time ever that the Beating Retreat ceremony witnessed the martial bands playing mostly Indian compositions. As many as 19 of the 25 performances have been composed by Indian musicians.

Just four popular tunes by foreign musicians were retained, interspersed twice with “Fanfare”, a collage by buglers, and the “Drummers Call”, a traditional performance only by the drummers.

Among the tunes were two new compositions — “Gaj Raj” symbolizing the fanfare associated with elephants and “Reshmi” a silky melody — played for the first time at a Beating Retreat ceremony.

A total of 12 army bands and four each of the navy and air force, apart from 15 Pipes and drums bands, 72 buglers and 12 trumpeters, in their traditional finery performed at the ceremony.

Other than Abide with Me, a western tune, and Sare Jahan se Achchha composed by Urdu poet Muhammad ‘Allama’ Iqbal in pre-independence India, the rest of the tunes were played after a gap of at least a decade.

Conceived by the Indian Army’s Major Roberts in the 1950s, the Beating Retreat ceremony portrays the rich military customs and warfare practices, when soldiers were recalled to their camps at sunset from the battlefield.

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