Military cadence  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In the armed services, a military cadence or cadence call is a traditional call-and-response work song sung by military personnel while running or marching. In the United States, these cadences are sometimes called jody calls or jodies, after Jody, a recurring character who figures in some traditional cadences.

Requiring no instruments to play, they are counterparts in oral military folklore of the military march. As a sort of work song, military cadences take their rhythms from the work being done (compare sea shanty). Many cadences have a call and response structure of which one soldier initiates a line, and the remaining soldiers complete it, thus instilling teamwork and camaraderie for completion. The cadence calls move to the beat and rhythm of the normal speed (quick time) march or running-in-formation (double time) march. This serves the purpose of keeping soldiers "dressed", moving in step as a unit and in formation, while maintaining the correct beat or cadence.

The word "cadence" was applied to these work songs because of an earlier meaning, in which it meant the number of steps a marcher or runner took per minute. The cadence was set by a drummer or sergeant and discipline was extremely important, as keeping the cadence directly affected the travel speed of infantry. There were other purposes: the close-order drill was a particular cadence count for the complex sequence of loading and firing a musket. In the Revolutionary War, Baron von Steuben notably imported European battlefield techniques which persist, greatly modified, to this day.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Military cadence" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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