More Than Background Noise

November 30, 2010
By Anonymous

A group of individuals hitting items with sticks, and becoming light-headed from pushing too much air through an annoying noise producing instrument, all enclosed on a single football field surrounded by fences. This is a common perception that people in marching bands receive. However, what most people do not realize is that there are different sections, the groups of instruments have personalities with certain characteristics that are special to them, and it helps build the band as a whole. So while most people think that a marching band is a group of over enthusiastic people, who are all the same; marching band is really several groups that differ from one another, that when added to each other become an overwhelming synchronized mess, or chaotic family.

Flutes or Piccolos, for example, are the most annoying instruments known to mankind. They have their appealing moments; however, they are so piercing that they have the capability of making any living being deaf. The people who enjoy playing these deafening weapons of ear destruction share some similar traits. They always have a smile on their face, and are constantly in denial at the fact that the world is not all rainbows, gumdrops, and puppy dogs. They are the people who are always on the back half of the field; they may be pretty to look at and innocent sounding, but once thirteen of them join the party of sixteenth note runs, a traffic jam of ugliness is just a catastrophe waiting for its moment to strike.

Then the royal calling of the overpowering trumpets come thrashing through. This group may have the melody ninety-seven percent of the time, but does this give them the right to have an overbearing confidence? They are always handed the solos, and the pat on the back when the band has performed well. Although they constantly rub it in one’s face about how outstanding they are. The fact is, they are. It is possible for a trumpet to reach a high note, and the next second go down exceptionally low. And is there a genre of music in which a trumpet has never performed? Classical, Jazz, Pop, Latino, the trumpet has achieved it all. Even though they may be as superior as they seem, none of the other band sections will ever actually give them the recognition and praise that they truly deserve.

Saxophone players get recognized all of the time, however maybe not in the way most would think. Most of them are people who have too much time on their hands, spending it on useless but entertaining activities, when they really should be working on important homework assignments that are due the following day. They are always the life of the party, or rather, the laugh of the party. Consistently finding new ways to stir up giggles and put smiles on the faces around them with their random thoughts. Although no one ever sees them getting down to business and laboring intensely over the black and white scribbling on the page, they always seem to have the music perfected in time. This is the section that is most likely to be nominated for best Halloween costume on a hot summer day, nowhere near Halloween. Saxophones allow the band to have fun but when the performance is around the corner, the unknown seriousness comes alive temporarily.

The stern group is the clarinets; they work hard from the moment they receive instructions to the moment they perform. They are always together and are incredibly close, but they do have their disagreements, which may end in the silent treatment for a period of time, however they always find their way back to an exultant section. The clarinets also have their annoying moments, similar to the flutes and piccolos, however their period of irritating sound consists of prolonged squeaks, caused by the unwilling reed, when they attempt to thrust large gaps of air into their instrument. In addition to being close, as well as bothersome, they are quite talented at the immense amounts of eighteenth note runs on the excruciating scores of music that are seen the first instant of receiving the piece.

A drummer can always be picked out from a crowd. These are people who cannot stand still or silence, once the awkward quietness comes to reality, the exasperating beating of their hands or feet come in contact with some hard surface. They are great for hitting things and if you are ever in need of a person to keep count for you, a drummer is your best bet; they are nature’s true metronomes. The beats of the drums that are produced are the tempo for the band; the heartbeat of the body of sound, thump-thump the sound that lets you know the band is alive! Without this constant beating, the body of music would slowly die, a true flat line on the EKG. Although they may not receive solos such as the trumpets, they feel they are so cool because they can hit things with sticks at an extremely fast pace. This huge responsibility sometimes gets to their confidence.

The biggest responsibility, however, goes into the hands of the drum majors, literally. The drum majors use their hands as their instruments, and have no time to mess up, for if they do, the music will drag on and the mistakes will be all too noticeable. They have a passion for music and it shows as they tenderly sway their bodies and hands in the directions of which the music is pulling them, a sort of magnetism pulling the band into perfection. Without their emotion and intensity, the music and composition would never reach its full potential, nor would it reach much of a potential at all. They work with each section, continuously searching for the tempo and the soul of the music. Although the drumline and percussion are the true tempo holding instruments, the drum majors are the conductors whose main responsibility is to inform the drumline how fast they may go. They are the role models and are the true spokespeople for the band. If the musical family is presented with an award, they are the ones who will retrieve it on behalf of the entire band, accolades for a team performance well done.

Although each of the separate sections of individuals contains certain personality traits, without every single one of the characteristics the musical family would not be a band. If there were no line of instruments that were capable of keeping the tempo of the music for the rest of the band, the sound would fall apart. And if there was not a person or two who could lighten the mood, when the laborious task of practicing got to tough to bear, then the rehearsal would only get tense and people would never enjoy being together. And if there were not at least one section that was more determined and hardworking than the rest, there would be no friendly rivalry between sections, to establish who was in fact superior to the trumpets. The band is more than a group of people making different sounds...It is a musical family with a body, heart, and soul.

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This article has 1 comment.

Band-geek said...
on Dec. 11 2010 at 12:33 pm
I love this piece! The stereo-typical personalities of each section is totally true!

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