So you fancy you’ve got a bit of a musical side? Personally, I’m a dab hand on the triangle. After years of practice I hit it pretty much every time! I have always wondered whether an army would march along to the melodic chimes of my preferred instrument.

Hmmm... Probably not!

So that you don’t make the same mistake I did, here are 5 instruments you could pick up and play as you stride into the fray.

The Cymbals

MAA 429 Napoleon's MamelukesIllustration - Men-at-Arms 429 - Napoleon's Mamelukes

As the armies clash all around you, what better way to enjoy a battle than by crashing cymbals together? Played alongside drums the cymbals were well suited to keeping up the marching rhythm, although they were rather limited to crashing and/or clanging.


The Drum

MAA 239 - Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies
Illustration - Men-at-Arms 239 - Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies

Like the cymbals the drum was a percussion instrument perfect for keeping the men marching in time, but this one had a little added flair. It would be perfect for people who wanted extra scope for creativity, but still mainly wanted to hit stuff.

The Bugle

MAA 405 - Napoleon's CarabiniersIllustration - Men-at-Arms 405 - Napoleon's Carabiniers

If you feel a little more ambitious you could move from percussion to brass, provided you had the lungs for it! Trumpeters would often have the honour of sounding the charge and, if things went a little pear-shaped, they may also end up sounding the retreat.

The Bagpipes

MAA 442- Queen Victoria's HighlandersIllustration - Men-at-Arms 442 - Queen Victoria's Highlanders

Highland regiments would usually have a piper playing the bagpipes as they headed off to war. For some soldiers the sound would inspire them, whilst no doubt others would quicken their pace to get further away from the piercing notes.

The Jingling Johnny

MAA 457 - Imperial Armies of the Thirty Years' War (1)Illustration - Men-at-Arms 457 - Imperial Armies of the Thirty Years' War (1)

Aah! The Jingling Johnny! It reaches the top of our list on name alone. Also known as a Schellenbaum, this instrument would often be found in military bands, although whether anyone ever had the chance to smack someone in the face with one on the battlefield we do not know.

So there’s our list. Now there’s no excuse for there not to be delightful musical accompaniment when you next take to the battlefield.