In recent years, however, the role of the battle musician has largely been relegated to an anachronism.
Not so in Libya, apparently. An extraordinary picture has emerged from the country, credited to the AFP/Getty agency, which appears to show a guitarist in full song during a fierce gun battle in Sirte.
The photo by Aris Messinis, which was published on 10 October, almost looks too strange to be real. There is no note attached to the photo to say what song was being played - or, indeed, why. But it is certainly a strange insight into the very human chaos of modern warfare.