Right: Goulet approves.
When I mentioned that the Big Ten had given the go-ahead for bands to be amplified, I mentioned off-hand that I didn't expect it would amount to much. During last year's period of complaining alternately about the band's addiction to opera and the horrible piped-in music that inagurated the "special k make michigan stadium wicked sweet dawg" tag a couple of different emailers identified themselves as sound professionals and said that amplifying a marching band in a stadium was a difficult project not likely to be undertaken.
Michigan is undertaking it, however. Michael Haithcock, the director of bands, emailed me to give the current status of the band "in an effort to avoid the uninformed opinions that so often characterize comments regarding the MMB." This is that status:
- Big Ten AD's voted to approve the change in conference rules several months ago.
- Prior to the vote and since the decision became final, MMB faculty and athletic personnel have been working with highly qualified sound engineers to design a system workable for the MMB and Big House.
- The goal is to enhance the natural sound of the MMB and disperse it evenly throughout the stadium not to make it sound electronic or "canned".
- Time will be devoted to working toward this sound goal for the MMB during upcoming stadium rehearsals the week prior to the UConn game.
- Assuming the technology meets the goal of enhancement, the sound system will be in place for the first game although some "tweaking" may prove to be necessary going forward. Please be patient as we work to get it right in a situation that can only be created on game days.
- Acoustical studies of the new facility scientifically show that the overall sound is louder but individual components of the sound are less distinct due to the "roar" of clashing sound vibrations. Therefore, it is harder to hear the band without this enhancement.
- Moving the band into the north end zone is under discussion for future years but is not as easy a transition as first thought. We need to see how this new system works and how the rule change plays out before acting on the cost associated with making such a move.
- The SEC allowed a similar type of amplification for two years but voted to rescind the rule due to numerous problems. Coaches led the move to rescind the rule. This is unchartered territory in most conferences.
- The purported divide of "quality" of sound versus "quantity" of sound is really an non-issue for acoustical reasons to numerous to elaborate. Good blog fodder, but nothing real to be gained in the dialogue.
Director of Bands
University of Michigan
Anything that makes the band audible everywhere in the stadium is welcome, especially if it means Special K and his iPod filled with 40,000 copies of "Here Comes the Boom" are put in a cannon and shot to East Lansing where they belong. Hopefully it works out.