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"Ruffles and Flourishes"



"Ruffles and Flourishes"


It is a type of fanfare music usually performed on drums and bugles or other similar instruments. It is a short piece that is played before a ceremonial song (ex. Hail to the Chief) in honor of the Commander in Chief (U.S. President) or other high-ranking government and military official.

Significance (4 "Ruffles and Flourishes"):

The number of times "Ruffles and Flourishes" is played depends on the official rank of the person being honored. The highest ranked officials are honored with 4 "Ruffles and Flourishes," these include

  • Former Presidents of the United States
  • The President-elect
  • The Vice President of the United States
  • Four Star Generals
  • Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Other senior civilian government officials (Congressmen, Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, Senators, etc.)

3 and 2 "Ruffles and Flourishes":

Those for whom "Ruffles and Flourishes" is played three times include:

  • Three Star Generals
Those for whom "Ruffles and Flourishes" is played twice include:

  • Two Star Generals
  • American Envoys/American Ambassadors
  • American Ministers

Ceremonial Songs and Marches Played After:

Songs played after "Ruffles and Flourishes" include:

  • "Star Spangled Banner" (for former Presidents and the President-elect)
  • "Hail to the Chief" (for the President of the United States)
  • "Hail Columbia" (for the Vice-President of the United States)
  • "General's March" (for four, three, two and one star Generals)
  • "Flag Officers March" (for four, three, two and one flag star officers)
  • Last 32 measures (grandioso) of "The Stars and Stripes Forever" (for senior civilian government officials)

Foreign Significance:

When the U.S. President or other American officials visit a foreign country, "Ruffles and Flourishes" is played before that country's national anthem to honor their leaders, Chiefs of State or those belonging to the Royal family.

Music Tidbit:

This short piece was added before "Hail to the Chief" during William McKinley's presidency.

Music Sample:

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