The 8th GM Regiment Band
Learn about the history of our Civil War band.
The 8th GM Regiment Band was formed in 2017 to help educate both students and the community about early American brass bands and the music they played throughout the 1800s. Brass bands were first formed in 1835 and were very common in towns throughout America. During the American Civil War, brass bands were assigned to specific regiments and brigades and would serenade the soldiers in camp, on the march, and on the battlefield.
As a Green Machine ensemble at George Mason University, the 8th GM Regiment Band wears green uniforms inspired by soldiers during the American Civil War who wore them as an early form of camouflage. By wearing these uniforms, the band is able to display its school pride as well as honor all those who wore the uniform during the Civil War. The band plays a variety of music: polkas, waltzes, quicksteps, patriotic aires, and popular tunes. The music is a mix of period arrangements that were played by bands at the time and modern arrangements that were written in an authentic style. Careful attention is paid to each song’s context and original function. The 8th GM Regiment Band does not shy away from playing certain songs, but instead uses it as an opportunity to educate both the audience and the student performers about the power of music.
Currently, the band is playing primarily on modern, personally-owned instruments. It is the goal of the Green Machine to be able to outfit the 8th GM Regiment Band with period brass instruments to be able to educate both students and audiences to early instrument designs and an authentic period instruments timbre. The main instrument design the band is excited about is an “Over the Shoulder” (OTS) horn. OTS instruments, invented by John Stratton in the mid-1800s, have long bells that sit on the players’ shoulder and points directly behind them. This design was intended to allow for a regimental band to march in front of soldiers on the move and the soldiers still be able to hear them. OTS horns are aurally, visually, and aesthetically the most desired instruments for an early American brass band to play on.