It’s West Point versus the Air Force Academy in an epic drum-off

Combining academic excellence with military discipline and traditions, each year the service academies churn out an annual crop of future officers. But did you know that they also have top notch musicians? As you’ll soon see, the bands even compete — we might say it’s inter-service rivalry at its best.

Inter-service rivalry is also channeled into sports and it was when the Army and Air Force football teams were in town that the services’ drumlines encountered each other and engaged in a friendly competition. A drumline can be part of a larger marching band or march on its own. Typically it includes snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, and cymbals. In days gone by, they’d also throw in some glockenspiels and portable timpani.

The West Point band has been around for just over 200 years. In fact its traditions go back even earlier than its official founding in 1817 to a fife and drum corps established at West Point by George Washington himself. Like the Air Force, its Academy’s marching band is much newer, established in 1955. But just like their rival on the Hudson, they recruit highly talented musicians, mainly graduates of top-level music programs at the nation’s universities.

Check out the video below to see the clash between the West Point and Air Force Academy drumlines. They’re extraordinarily good at what they do. In fact, the perfect timing they all display is downright mesmerizing. The Army’s line does some clever moves. In their first number, one cymbal player does some fancy dancing and in the second, the drummers do some incredible drumstick juggling (while playing). Meanwhile, the Air Force musicians keep their tricks more subtle, though they’re also quite astonishing.

Which team do you think won the contest, Army or Air Force? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below. Don’t forget to like and share: your friends won’t believe how good these percussionists are!