Top Secret Drum Corps At Edinburgh Military Tattoo

These men sacrifice all of their free time to be accepted into the Drum Corps, and they practice every single day.  As you will see in this video — not only is their performance brilliant, it is breathtakingly flawless.   There are no words to describe their talent, I guess magnificent will have to do.

The Top Secret Drum Corps is based in Basel, Switzerland.  It consists of 25 drummers and flag twirlers, the precision drum corps became an international sensation after performing a challenging six-minute routine  at the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2003.

Since its success in 2003, Top Secret was invited to return to Edinburgh in 2006 with a new and improved routine. Under the leadership of Erik Julliard, the band is also responsible for the founding of the Basel Tattoo, a military tattoo show similar to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, now held annually in Basel.

Top Secret has its roots in the rich drumming traditions of the band’s home city, Basel, Switzerland, which is known for its annual carnival called Fasnacht. The city is said to have over 3,000 active drummers at any one time.

Basel drumming style is militaristic, derived from the military drumming drills of Swiss soldiers dating back the Middle Ages. Top Secret in many ways adheres to the military nature of Basel drumming, but differs in many respects. Its drummers play at a much faster rate. Also, while traditional Basel drumming is somber and favors traditional marching tunes (accompanied by fifes during the Fasnacht), Top Secret’s drumming style is upbeat and playful. Segments of their routines feature a “rhumba”, a drummer’s duel, drumstick juggling, exploding flagpoles, and other humorous details. Perhaps because of their 18th Century uniforms and precision work, the band is often referred to a military band or a part of the Swiss Army, but it is not affiliated with any military unit.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual Military tattoo given by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International military bands and display teams in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

The word “tattoo” originally dates from the eighteenth century, when British Army units were stationed in Flanders during the War of the Austrian Succession. Drummers from the garrison were sent out into the towns each evening to Beat Retreat, summoning the soldiers to return to barracks for the night. The process was known as Doe den tap toe or just tap toe and encouraged the inn keepers to “turn off the taps”: stop serving beer and send the soldiers back for the night.

The first official Tattoo began in 1950 with just 8 items in the programme. There were no stands for spectators; now for three weeks in August 9000 people climb the cobbled stones of the Royal Mile each evening to see it.

A feature film based on the Edinburgh triumph is in the works with Insert Films, Switzerland.  I couldn’t find a release date for the film at this time.

Video by gelkoid.

2 thoughts on “Top Secret Drum Corps At Edinburgh Military Tattoo

  1. I’ve watched these guys other performances–there’s always about 30% that is different in each one. They are brilliant.

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