What do you think of when you hear about the circus? Could it be the elephants, the rings, the acrobats, or the big red and white tent? One essential element of the greatest show on Earth is the music. Circus music has a surprisingly deep history and complexity that you likely won’t know about when you purchase circus tickets online to the Royal Canadian Circus this summer.
Circus music is a large component of many foxtrots, waltzes, and other dances. It was a large part of the first circus in history back in 1700s Paris, and it’s been a staple of the experience ever since. Traditionally played by large bands, circus music has a unique composition that might be interesting to learn about.
Circus music is notoriously difficult to play thanks to its fast tempo. The most common type of circus music is the march, which runs at nearly 200 beats per minute. Fanfares and note leaps are also often found in these pieces.
Circus musicians are known as “windjammers” and have practiced the art of the march for circus entrances, finales, and high-adrenaline acts. The main parts of a circus march include:
• The exposition, the introduction
• The trio, two short melodies followed by a long one
• The “dogfight,” a return to the exposition melody
Much like the march, windjammers play gallop music at a fast pace during daredevil acrobatics. It’s a short verse that stops when the ringmaster gestures for the end of an act, though it could be extended by playing da capo, an Italian term for repeating the verse from the beginning.
If you’ve heard Gustav Peter’s Memory of Circus Renz, you’ve listened to one of the most famous instances of the gallop. Purchase circus tickets online to one of our shows today to hear more.
The choice of which form to use, the gallop or the march, depends on the act currently in play. Whether fast-paced, upbeat, or adrenaline-pumping, the music always matches the acrobatics.
Circus music is never static; it’s been dynamically changing since its inception. Likewise, instrumentation for modern circuses differs from that of older ones. At the turn of the 19th century, circuses made a change from string instruments to mainly brass bands.
The main reason was that French horns, trombones, trumpets, and tubas could reach larger distances, letting everyone know that the circus was in town. Other instruments included the drums; xylophones; and even the calliope, a steam-powered, piano-like instrument whose sound could travel up to 10 miles.
Nowadays, you might even hear synthesizers and electronic instruments alongside traditional ones too.
Purchase Circus Tickets Online | Royal Canadian Circus | Scarborough, Mississauga, Milton
Curious about the kinds of music you’d hear at a circus? Why not join the Royal Canadian Circus as we make our rounds this summer of 2019 throughout Ontario? Purchase circus tickets online to one of our shows in Etobicoke, Scarborough, Mississauga, Burlington and Milton and help us keep North America’s circus tradition alive.
Our shows in Ontario run from July 18 – August 18, 2019, so bring the whole family with you to experience this rarely seen opportunity. Questions? Please feel free to contact us directly.
• Don’t think that circus music is only for children. Even adults can appreciate the mixture of old and new instruments, the combination of intricate and upbeat melodies, and the inspiration stemming from years of circus tradition.
• Circuses often use the march and the gallop as common themes, though you will also hear modern instruments too. There’s an immense variety in the soundtrack to keep you on your toes.
• Purchase circus tickets online to the Royal Canadian Circus to see for yourself. We run until mid-August this year.