In the armed services, a military cadence or cadence call is a traditional call-and-response work song sung by military personnel while running or marching. In the United States, these cadences are sometimes called Jody calls or Jodies, after Jody, a recurring character who figures in some traditional cadences; Jody refers to the man with whom a serviceman's wife/girlfriend cheats while he is deployed.

Requiring no instruments to play, they are counterparts in oral military folklore of the military march. As a sort of work song, military cadences take their rhythms from the work being done (compare sea shanty). Many cadences have a call and response structure of which one soldier initiates a line, and the remaining soldiers complete it, thus instilling teamwork and camaraderie for completion. The cadence calls move to the beat and rhythm of the normal speed (quick time) march or running-in-formation (double time) march. This serves the purpose of keeping soldiers "dressed", moving in step as a unit and in formation, while maintaining the correct beat or cadence.

The word "cadence" was applied to these work songs because of an earlier meaning, in which it meant the number of steps a marcher or runner took per minute. The cadence was set by a drummer or sergeant and discipline was extremely important, as keeping the cadence directly affected the travel speed of infantry. There were other purposes: the close-order drill was a particular cadence count for the complex sequence of loading and firing a musket. In the Revolutionary WarBaron von Steuben notably imported European battlefield techniques which persist, greatly modified, to this day.

This military Cadence is really associated strongly with the American military and in particularly the infantry. For reenactors it doesn't seem to play a part in any groups training and impression. However, like the rifle drill that we teach over time, we will also start to introduce Cadence, not only is it fun to do (yes it is!) but it will entertain all who see it, even when it goes wrong. Here are a few examples of Second World War cadence from some late war videos.

and just in case you want to hear with with a more female tone, the video below show a group of WACs doing the exact same thing.


Pretty much all cadence calls have the same chorus, always called the same way.

SOUND OFF (By individual)

1 - 2 (By troops)

SOUND OFF (By individual)

3 - 4 (By troop)

CADENCE COUNT (By individual)

1 - 2 - 3 - 4, 1 - 2 --- 3 - 4 (By troops)

One of my all time favourites has to be the following and is also one of the easiest to remember. You can also call it in any order and it doesn't matter if calls get repeated. Originally called "Gee, Mom, I Want to Go Home" (also known as "I Don't Want No More of Army Life") is a traditional, humorous song satirizing life in the Armed Forces, originally call by the Canadian Army. Each verse has two lines relating what recruits are told, followed by an exaggerated description of the fact.

"They say that in the Army" 

They say that in the Army
The chow is mighty fine
A chicken jump off the table
And started marking time!


They say that in the Army
The biscuits are mighty fine
One rolled off the table

and it killed a friend of mine!


They say that in the Army

that life is mighty fine

They treat us all like monkeys
And make us stand in line!

They say that in the Army

the shoes are mighty fine

You ask for size eleven 

they give you size nine

They say that in the Army

The pay is mighty fine
They give you fifty dollars a month
And take back forty-nine.


They say that in the Army
The coffee is mighty fine
It looks like muddy water
and tastes like Turpentine!

They say that in the army
The women are mighty fine
They look like Boris Carloff
and walk like Frankenstein!


They say the in the Army

the mail is mighty fine

Today I got a letter

dated 1939

Heads are up, Chests are out

VERSE 1 The heads are up and the chests are out
The arms are swinging in cadence count.


VERSE 2 Head and eyes are off the ground,
Forty inches, Cover down.

VERSE 3 It won't get by if it ain't GI,
It won't get by if it ain't GI,

VERSE 4 I don't mind taking a hike
If I can take along a bike.

VERSE 5 I don't care if I get dirty
As long as the Brow gets Gravel Gertie.

VERSE 6 The Wacs and Waves will win the War
So tell us what we're fighting for.

VERSE 7 They send us out in the middle of the night
To shoot an azimuth without a light.

VERSE 8 There are lots plums upon the tree
For everyone exceptin' me.

VERSE 9 The first platoon, it is the best.
They always pass the Colonel's tests.


You had a good home when you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)
Jodie was there when you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)
Her mamma was there when you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)
Her papa was there when you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)


You had a good home when you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)
Your baby was there when you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)
The police were there when you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)
And that's why you left (By individual)
You're right (By troops)


The Captain rides in a jeep,
You're right (By troops)
The Sergeant rides in a truck,
You're right (By troops)
The General rides in a limousine
You're right (By troops)
But your just out a luck.
You're right (By troops)


Blood Upon the Risers

"Blood Upon the Risers" is an American paratrooper song from World War II. It is associated with all current airborne units, including the 101st Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division, and the 120th CTS (United States) as well as British airborne units, also being known as "Mancha Roja" (Spanish for "Red Stain") in many airborne units from multiple Latin American countries. In Spain it is called "Sangre en las cuerdas" ("Blood upon the risers" in English).

This song has been featured in the television miniseries Band of Brothers, the television series Preacher, and the video game Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, and was also mentioned in Donald Burgett's book Currahee!: A Screaming Eagle at Normandy. Sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", the song tells of the final fatal jump of a rookie paratrooper whose parachute fails to deploy. This results in him falling to his death.

The song is also a cautionary tale on the dangers of improper preparation of a parachute jump. The protagonist does everything right, but forgets to hook on his static line which would automatically deploy his main parachute; upon discovering this error during the jump, he deploys his reserve chute in bad falling position with disastrous results. As the reserve chute is stored in a belly bag on the World War II-era rig, deploying it in a bad falling position could easily lead to an accident, not unlike the one described in the song. "Risers" are the four straps that connect the suspension lines of the parachute canopy to the parachute harness.

This song has become synonymous with the Airborne Infantry and although not a Cadence call it deserves a place on the website somewhere and so here it is. If anyone can learn and remember it, then it is something that can be sung, hummed, whistled etc

Turn it up and play it loud and sing!