In many marches, such as the following, the last note of the melody is repeated emphatically (or repeated an octave above). Often using sforzando, marcato, or fortissimo possibile. Here are a few examples:

The Gallant Seventh

Gallant Seventh

King Cotton

King Cotton

Stars and Stripes Forever

Stars and Stripes Forever

Why do marches often employ this technique? Is there a name for it?


That's called a 'stinger'.

It's an idiomatic thing to do in traditional march writing, and it usually completes the last musical phrase.

Some conductors will play with time right between the penultimate note and the stinger as a last little bit of tension and release--a quasi-allargando of sorts. (In effect, playing with the audience, as they are all expecting the stinger at the end.)

Also, marches were traditionally performed with one additional D.C. (da capo), returning to the beginning to play the opening section one last time. In this case, the stinger acts as a pick-up note to the beginning phrase.

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  • 2
    The stinger is so idiomatic and expected that its omission can also play with the audience's expectations. One of the better-known examples is Sousa's Semper Fidelis. – Andrew Feb 27 '12 at 16:48
  • Often conductors opt not to play them as well. I know a former conductor at Ithaca hated them and would point blank refuse to have his ensembles play them. – user3169 Nov 28 '12 at 6:21

I think it's due to the (obvious) association with Marching. The two beats of the stinger tell the marchers when to stop moving their feet.

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