The Empire employs a complicated system of very specific drill commands that has been honed and refined throughout its extremely long history. The grammatical complexities and flexible syntax of their language lends itself to the orderly, formulated expression of ideas - leading to the creation of a highly precise method for conveying orders. This is of the upmost necessity on the battlefield, where perfect unity and timing of action are imperative to maintain a formation's cohesion amidst the deafening noise, fast-paced chaos and blinding smoke of combat.
The terms 'Command' and 'Order' have distinct meanings in the lexicon of the Imperial military: an 'Order' is an imperative given by a commanding officer, while 'Commands' are the actual shouted and/or musical phrases that compel the soldiers to do something. The number of 'steps' / 'parts' in a given Order varies between different Orders - i.e. the Order to advance has two steps, as the men must first be brought to attention before being moved forward. Furthermore, a given Order requires progressively more Commands per-step as the size of the formation receiving it increases. So the Order to advance, when given to a large mass of troops spread across a wide area (i.e. multiple Infantry Brigades united into a Line of Battle), results in a process of Commands 'cascading' down among its various sub-units. This ensures the Order is properly transmitted and simultaneously, unanimously executed among the whole body of soldiers - maintaining their cohesion as a single formation.
An Order always starts with the senior officer in charge of the whole formation, who passes it to his Staff as a simple, short Command in the form of a single future-tense phrase (i.e. 'the Line will advance'). The Order is then relayed by said Staff to the formation as a whole, whereupon it passes down the chain of leadership as the commander's subordinates give the necessary commands to follow through.
Terminology & Pertinent InformationEdit
Most - if not all - Orders, or steps within an Order, as well as Commands, have associated bits of music. Just as a real-world modern officer relies on his radio to convey his commands, so does his Imperial counterpart depend on his musicians. This music a sort of very expressive and precise, but really rather uncomplicated, code. There are musicians integrated into Imperial units at essentially every level, with different types of 'tunes' that are used to convey the same commands depending on the situation / size of unit. In smaller units, different instruments serve different purposes, while larger units have entire bands and convey information purely though the music they play. In Infantry companies (particularly Line Infantry), information is broadcasted primarily through a combination of drum and horn [trumpet] cadences, either both together or in sequence. Line and Light Companies also contain fifers, but they are purely for musical quality; the trumpet, by contrast, is purely for conveying commands and does not take part in the playing of music. Thus, when a Company is taking excessive casualties, its musicians will often abandon their instruments to help drag bodies out of the line - leaving only the trumpeter to communicate. Generally, one drummer is also left at his post unless the situation is absolutely vital.
To explain this in detail, the Imperial Line Infantry will be used as the example model:
- Line Infantry Company - four field-drums and two fifes plus a Signal Trumpet (a specific type of snare drum), two fifes and a Signal Trumpet (a specific type of large, wide-bore and broad-belled B♭ trumpet developed specifically for the purpose).
- Line Infantry Battalion - four field-drums, three tenor drums (larger drums similar to field-drums but without snares that produce a deeper, rounder sound) and a bass drum plus two Signal Trumpets
- Infantry Brigade - 24-person band with miscillaneous instruments plus the same drum complement as a Battalion, four Signal Trumpets
(Note: a Legion Headquarters also has a pool of musicians that are distributed as necessary to high-level command elements).
Types of music used:
- Cadence - a
For example, once the Infantry Brigades have formed up into a single homogenous Line of Battle and is waiting to move forward, the order to advance goes as follows (starting from the General in overall command of the whole Line):
The General turns to his surrounding staff and says, in a calm voice: Vonan vermatïnär' - 'the Line will advance' [future tense].
The Command Sergeant-Major, who is standing next to the General, then raises his right hand vertically - fully extended with the palm open, fingers unfurled - and shouts the actual command: Vonan vermatt! Läs-Sëktae - HÄ!
The first part of this translates to 'The Line to Advance' (infinitive), which states the overall order, which requires multiple steps in this case. The second part is the actual first command, 'Make Ready' (with -läs- being a type of reflexive particle in the Imperial Language referring back to the most recent previous noun, indicating that the command applies to the whole Line ... in other cases, different commands might have to be given to different components to execute the overall order). HÄ is the Imperial Language particle of emphasis, but is used in this case as the 'execution' component of the command: all commands are punctuated with HÄ at the end, and are to be carried out on that final syllable.
At the Sergeant-Major's command, the band plays the particular cadence associated with the order 'Make Ready'. This is necessary with large numbers of troops in formation to ensure the commands are received and executed in unison: music, particularly drums and horns, are much louder than the spoken human voice.