Granted, this tempo offers a few conveniences. 120 divided by 2 is 60, so each two-beat measure is one second in duration. This leads to a number of benefits. That number is 2:
- You can watch the seconds tick by on your watch and get an exact tempo.
- When planning a concert or ceremony, you can simply count the measures in a piece and instantly know its length.
Fortunately, when I left the Basic Course and arrived at my first band, I found the School of Music obsession with Holy 120 did not extend to the fleet bands. In the real, grownup world of Navy music, you marched at an adult pace. A band could complete a long parade route without exhausted MUs collapsing in the gutters.
But after a few years, you'd go back to the School, where Marines with metronomes and stopwatches were waiting with glee to torture you with daily routines of huffing and puffing around the base at Holy 120.
Enjoy this short, recent clip of the Pacific Fleet Band marching at a reasonable, grownup tempo. Notice the precision. Notice the musicality. Notice how damn good they look.
Down with 120.