Historical development of China's military bugle calls system

China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2018-09-12 17:19:01

By Liu Jimei and Chen Ling

BEIJING, Sept. 12 (ChinaMil) — Bugle calls are musical signals used by the armed forces around the world as a traditional way for communications, signaling, management, and boosting soldiers' morale.

The bugle calls system of the Chinese military started from scratch, but has grown into a precious spiritual treasure of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Since the day when the PLA was established, it has had a bugle calls system. The National Revolutionary Army that participated in the Nanchang Uprising on August 1, 1927 already had buglers and a bugler detachment.

In November 1931, the Music Scores of Military Bugle Calls of the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army was formulated and issued, and the Chinese military had its own bugle calls scores and regulations for the first time.

The music scores include over 300 bugle calls in four categories: combat calls, daily calls, nominal calls, and ceremonial calls. In the time of China's revolutionary wars, the bugle calls played a crucial role in securing victory in battles.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the PLA formed a complete bugle calls system. Each company was equipped with a bugler, each battalion with a bugler squad, and each regiment with a bugler platoon. The bugler became one of the basic and essential personnel in the PLA grassroots units.

In 1951, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army marched to the Korean battlefield. Military bugle calls were widely used by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army, playing an important role in creating psychological shock on the so-called “United Nations Army” and dwarfing their morale.

In June 1962, based on opinions and suggestions from the army, the Music Scores of Bugle Calls of the PLA was revised and reprinted. This edition included 109 bugle calls in four categories: daily calls, nominal calls, combat calls, and ceremonial calls.

Since the 1980s, alongside the evolution of modern wars and the modernization of the Chinese PLA, the commanding and signaling functions of military bugle calls increasingly weakened, and their application became less and less frequent. Some military barracks even didn’t use bugle calls any longer.

This time, the PLA restores the bugle calls system with an aim to continue and give full play to the bugle calls’ important roles in strengthening the troops' consciousness in listening to orders, inheriting the good traditions of army, regulating the army order and enhancing the military’s combat readiness capacity.

It is reported that the previous 109 kinds of bugle calls in the four categories of nominal, daily, combat, and ceremonial bugle calls will be reduced to 21 bugle calls in three categories: scheduled calls, action signaling calls, and ceremonial calls. They will be played by buglers or be broadcast in recorded form.

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