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The Regimental March (also known as Regimental March Past) is, in simpler terms, the anthem of a regiment. It is always played when the Regiment marches past a saluting dais or dignitary.
Prior to 1881 there were no regimental marches, as we know them today. Regiments marched past to a tune, which was popular with the Commanding Officer. In 1883, British Regiments were ordered to select a regimental march and told that it would be promulgated in Army Orders. Regiments had marched to a popular tune for a number of years and this in many cases was the march selected for the Regiment. Highland regiments throughout the British Army adopted Highland Laddie as their Regimental March.
Highland Laddie is a common regimental march. It is the regimental march of the following Canadian Regiments and is the regimental march to many Scottish Regiments around the world:
The tune has its origins as an old melody called If Thou'lt Play Me Fair, Play, to which the poet Robert Burns adapted The Highland Laddie and Lawland Lassie.
Highland Laddie is played in 2/4 time, and the traditional setting is two parts. Some regiments play four parts, and Pipe Major Robert Henderson arranged a four part version unique to the Calgary Highlanders in the early 1980s. The 3rd and 4th parts fell from use upon his retirement, but only briefly, and Pipe Major Henderson's lively third and fourth parts were revived and are still played today.