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Top Secret Drum Corps is a precision drum corps based in Basel, Switzerland. With 25 drummers and colorguard members, the corps became famous for its demanding six-minute routine performed at the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2003. With its invitation to Edinburgh, Top Secret became one of the first non-military, non-British Commonwealth acts to perform on the Esplanade at Edinburgh Castle.
Since its success in 2003, Top Secret was invited to return to Edinburgh in 2006 with a new and improved routine. They were invited a third time in 2009 and again in 2012. Under the leadership of Erik Julliard, the band is also responsible for the founding of the Basel Tattoo, a military tattoo show similar to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, now held annually in Basel.
Top Secret has its roots in the rich drumming traditions of the band's home city, Basel, Switzerland, which is known for its annual carnival called Fasnacht. The city is said to have over 3,000 active drummers at any one time. These drummers perform at traditional events such as Fasnacht, the Vogel Gryff, Charivari, and various parades associated with the city's guilds. A Trommelkönig (Drummer King) competition is also held every year by the city's Fasnacht Committee.
Basel drumming style is militaristic, derived from the military drumming drills of Swiss soldiers dating back to the Middle Ages. Top Secret in many ways adheres to the military nature of Basel drumming, but differs in many respects. Its drummers play at a much faster rate. Also, while traditional Basel drumming is somber and favors traditional marching tunes (accompanied by fifes during the Fasnacht), Top Secret's drumming style is upbeat and playful. Over the years, the corps adopted many elements from Drum Corps International (DCI), Scottish, and American rudimental drumming. Segments of their routines feature a "rhumba", a drummer's duel, drumstick juggling, exploding flagpoles, and other crowd-pleasing details. Their 2012 routine at the Edinburgh Tattoo included strobe lights within their drums that appeared to be activated by the drummer's beats. Perhaps because of their 18th Century uniforms and precision work, the Corps is often referred to as a military band or a part of the Swiss Army, but it is not affiliated with any military unit.
Top Secret's members are highly dedicated drummers with diverse day jobs—bankers, civil servants, factory workers, etc. They give up their free time to practice nearly every day of the year. Due to the demanding nature of the work, its membership is frequently changing.