Cor blimey, what have we here?! Are the Royal Marines going soft? What are The Bands of HM Royal Marines doing playing a song that was adopted, in the words of Carlo Romeo, “as an anti-war song, along with others such as Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind and John Lennon’s Imagine,” by protestors against the Vietnam War? Never mind, relax, it’s okay. The times they have a changed.
Since The Sound of Silence was covered by Disturbed, it’s no longer just a hippie folk song. And with all the covers in the wake of the runaway viral success of the Disturbed version, there is a The Sound of Silence for everyone. From didgeridoos to Chapman sticks, to pan flutes, there are more reinterpretations of The Sound of Silence than there are members of the Bands of HM Royal Marines.
Of course, the musicianship of The Bands of HM Royal Marines is of a very high standard. After completing 15 weeks of military training, successful applicants for the bands train at the Royal Marine School of Music. Musicians study for up to 3 years while buglers train for 2 years. There is the possibility of further musical study, especially for those seeking a higher rank. Moreover, there is room for “solo specialists” in the case of members who are particularly gifted at a specific instrument.
Clay J Parker III comments: “A great arrangement. The way they both transition from melody to harmony and back is fantastic. Not often you hear a female singer singing a lower part than a male singer.” Meanwhile, there is an interesting exchange on the Bands’ Facebook page, where the RM Bands posted a video of the performance with inserts about mental health awareness. I’ll get onto this exchange after this video of the RM Bands playing a “spaghetti western” classic by maestro Ennio Morricone:
Both performances are from the Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall, which has been a RM Bands tradition since 1973. The Sound of Silence is from 2020 and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is from 2021.
On the RM Bands’ Facebook page, David Wright commented on the similarity between the RM Bands’ interpretation of The Sound of Silence and Disturbed’s version. He wrote: “Adaptation of this song by heavy metal group Disturbed. Thought the guy’s voice particularly suited this arrangement.” The Bands of HM Royal Marines, or at least its Facebook moderator, replied, “David Wright, spot on.” So it’s official. The RM Bands’ orchestral and vocal arrangements were influenced by those of Disturbed.
In the comments to the same Facebook posts the moderator alerts us to the availability of RM Bands’ The Sound of Silence as a digital download on the Mountbatten Festival of Music 2020 album. Similarly, the RM Band’s take on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is available on the 2021 album.
The last word on The Sound of Silence performance can go to Random Nut, who commented on YouTube: “That low note, blimey. Whoever put those two voices together is an absolute genius. Beautiful rendition.” If you would like to see more from The Bands of HM Royal Marines, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.