Noise, Piped-In And Otherwise Comment Count

Brian September 15th, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Apparently it's ND Nation week on MGoBlog. Eh.

eminem_lose_yourself_grammys2    vs    mmb



This is, without question, a first:

I was there too, with a UM friend of mine.  He was at the UM game against WMU the weekend before, and he said the music was not played that weekend. In fact, he said he's never heard music played at any Michigan home game. Yesterday was his first ND/Michigan game in the Big House. Maybe it's just something they do for us. Wouldn't surprise me.

We both thought it was bulls---. With those new press box/fan suite things they've built at the top of the stadium, that place got really loud. The Eminem songs only made it worse.

I guess that's why they call it home field advantage.

Leaving aside this guy's probably-fictional Michigan friend who went to the Western game and didn't notice the RAWK MUSIC, this is an opposing fan complaining about the noise level in the stadium. Even if this is just more complaining to complain, it's still a 180 from the usual laughter at the 110,000 quietest people in America or whatever. As a group of people naturally inclined to laugh at all things Michigan, statements like this are as close to proof as you're ever going to get about the effect of the new boxes:

I thought the place seemed so much more intimidating
by BigEND (2009-09-13 21:09:28)

with the skyboxes there. It was louder and felt like you were really in a "big house". I still can't understand why so many people complained when the plan was originally announced. That stadium will be 10 times better with those boxes finished.

You and me both, BigEND. Meanwhile, email from people who would know confirms the third-party impressions:

Brian -

I attended the WMU game with siblings who are recent graduates and former band members. The word they got from contacts still in the band is that the on-the-field noise is significantly louder, even if it doesn't seem so to the layman sitting in the 67th row.

Without having any sort of technical knowledge, my guess is that the new structures are aiming sound back into the bowl. Clearly not all of it, but enough to make it louder the deeper you are inside. (That's what she said?)

So, it might not seem much louder to us, but clearly LOUDER FIELD > LOUDER STANDS from a competitive standpoint. In other words, my screaming is more directly helping Brandon Graham to murderfy Jimmah this weekend.

Go Blue!

And this was just for Western. The initial take, then, appears to be that the optimistic projections this blog's scoffed at more than once are basically accurate. The luxury boxes are a huge aid to the noise on the field to the point where complaint-inclined opposing fans focus on it. This is a major win.


So, then, the other matter at hand. Last week everyone had a little conniption fit and I posted a poll about whether piped-in music should be slain out of hand or not. The results:

5: I love it.
17% (685 votes)
4: It's better than nothing
26% (1067 votes)
3: It's the same as nothing
14% (573 votes)
2: It's worse than nothing
17% (699 votes)
1: It is the devil.
26% (1090 votes)
Total votes: 4114

Of the 75% who care, respondents were evenly split between pro-and-con, but the con side was more strongly opposed. This was shocking to me, but I guess this blog's readership skews away from bluehairs. I also have one main explanation: it's the band's fault. Multiple band members have sent in emails about the shift in the MMB's focus over the last ten or so years, and 90% are along these lines:


I was in the band for the last few years of Professor Nix's turn at the helm, from 2003-2007*, and I would say that there was plenty of "blame" to spread around for the quieter band. During my years, we frowned upon bands like Notre Dame's that would sacrifice precision for loudness. I believe most of us felt this way, and while it's reasonable to say this mentality started at the top, which would mean Professor Haithcock, I think Professor Nix and his appreciation for the newer, drum corp influenced style of a marching ensemble was the biggest factor. And now, with Director Boerma, who also has strong drum corp ties, I'm sure that influence is just as strong or stronger. But, Haithcock did hire them, so we can just blame him.


I've got other emails claiming Nix was a huge proponent of loud and that Haithcock asked about making the band louder and etc etc etc and I don't care about who is at fault for what, all I know is that the main reason that poll above came out the way it did is because the band is not doing its job. Saturday I could barely make out the Victors on any of Michigan's touchdowns. About the only thing I heard at halftime was the drum corps. I've gotten plenty of complaints from kids in the student section who say they can barely hear the band and it's 30 rows away from them.

This does not have to be the case. I vividly remember going down to Auburn last year. I sat in the upper deck on the 40; the LSU band was stuck in the corner of the opposite endzone, and I could hear them loud and clear. They were blasting it. Auburn's band was also louder than the MMB. Click the link and see where we were, man… we were in orbit around a football game.

And then there's the SWAC:

That's Southern University making a strong argument for Michigan scheduling a SWAC school, any SWAC school, the next time it reaches into the I-AA ranks for an opponent.

What's the point of a marching band? To be audible outside in a stadium of 110,000. If you want musicality, there are a dozen other bands on campus you can join. Scott Boerma and his superiors are completely missing the point, and if the band is being marginalized on gameday it is entirely their fault. Personally, I hate it. I want the band to be awesome and wish piped-in music would die a fiery death. But when "Lose Yourself" gets vastly more reaction than anything you do and large sections of the stadium can't hear you at all, that's on you. What the hell is the point of a piccolo when the only people who can hear it are the ones playing it? Have you ever thought about the poor schmucks in section 16 who have never once heard The Victors after a touchdown? Think of the children, and do this:

On the band:  I used to play clarinet in the Ann Arbor Huron marching band.  (Why?  Beats me.  I should have learned how to play guitar like Slash instead.)  Clarinet, while fine inside, is a waste of time outside.  It cannot be heard.  Ditto the flute and the piccolo. 

What the MMB needs to do is (1) get rid of all the clarinets, flutes and piccolos, and (2) add 150-200 more trumpets and trombones.  Made the band bigger, and sacrifice a measure of technical proficiency (which 98% of the crowd wouldn't notice) in exchange for a big ol' Wall of Sound.


Brandt Goldstein


Or something. Your prime directive should be loud; if it's not no one can help you fight your slide into irrelevance.

PS: and dammit the hockey band director should dance, you communists.



September 15th, 2009 at 1:58 PM ^

What the MMB needs to do is (1) get rid of all the clarinets, flutes and piccolos, and (2) add 150-200 more trumpets and trombones. Made the band bigger, and sacrifice a measure of technical proficiency (which 98% of the crowd wouldn't notice) in exchange for a big ol' Wall of Sound.



September 15th, 2009 at 3:09 PM ^

if you get rid of all the woodwinds The Victors will sound awful funny when the band tries to play the full version of the song. so unless you never want to hear the full version of The Victors and take away from the full sound of it in general, then getting rid of all the woodwinds is i guess advantageous for fans in the stadium. But the question is would we rather have a very good but slightly quieter band or a very loud band without some quality. I personally find the piped in music to be very effective at pumping up the crowd and it's not tacky as long as its used in moderation.


September 17th, 2009 at 9:31 PM ^

that the commenting on this post has become more of a pissing match and less of a place for helpful suggestion. It's who's right, who's wrong, instead of how can we make things better.

There have been some great points made (and some not so great points) but in the end, the band needs to produce more sound, and will! Have confidence that the band is willing to be loud and will work to do so. However, the majority of students are still going to have difficulty hearing them because they are sitting in front of the student section; this is not something that can be changed by the band alone! If you want the band to be moved, then send your much needed input to the Athletic Dept.! Tell them that the band needs to be in the endzone so 3/4 of the stadium will be played to, instead of just 1/8. Secondly, while micing would help, it is against BigTen Conference rules (hence why the 'loud' Auburn, LSU, Florida bands are at an advantage to be heard, and ours is not).

So, we can keep going in circles of bickering, leading to steadily more rude and disrespectful comments toward the fans and the band, or we can be constructive. It is not constructive to tell the band they are worthless, nor is it constructive to tell the fans and non-bandos that they don't know music. I agree that this thread should die a fiery death, and we should start anew, deciding how to make things better together, rather than fighting against each other. We're Michigan students and alumni, for god's sake! Who better than us to compile our intelligence and solve a problem. No one. Period. Paragraph.


September 15th, 2009 at 6:31 PM ^

No one ever complained about the volume of the band under Revelli or Cavender, and the instrumentation was as today. ANd dont think for a minute that they were giving up musicality to be loud. The two are not mutually exclusive as the current (and recent) administrations would have you believe.


September 15th, 2009 at 2:03 PM ^

...and this "noise" I keep hearing about, I wouldn't be shocked to hear that ND insists that future matchups are played at a neutral venue. Like Mishawaka.


September 15th, 2009 at 2:10 PM ^

I can only imagine what real Irish persons would do when they bumped into some slob wearing a t-shirt with a corn-cob smoking leprachaun with the words "Fighting Irish" emblazoned beneath. Oh, the joys. The joys.

Side question: how come "Fighting Irish" is o.k. with our politically correct NCAA? I mean, the name and the mascot figure to be amongst the most offensive ones out there, but Miles Brand would rather go after the "Fighting Sioux" or "Seminoles"?


September 15th, 2009 at 2:17 PM ^

I was there - sure, back in the 80's when UM had other awesome stuff like Bo and pro-UM Harbaugh - but the band I marched and played in liked to do that: MARCH and PLAY. When I saw the lackluster 2/3 tempo entries off the field on tv this Saturday, it about broke my heart. But it was about the only evidence of the band at all.

The MMB used to be one of the first bands anyone thought of when you said "marching band". At the Rose Bowl my freshman year, President Reagan presented us with the first ever national award for excellence in marching bands. It was seen as the obvious and natural choice. I doubt that'd happen today.

P.S. I hate glide-step corps style bands - as fey as Jimmy's dance. It's a style completely at odds with what the MMB is meant to be.


September 15th, 2009 at 6:37 PM ^

You got that RIGHT! TUA (and I love your name).

Can you imagine any other aspect, program, school, element, etc of the university falling into such a shambles? It would never be allowed. And yet MMB is a degraded shell of its former glory.


September 15th, 2009 at 2:08 PM ^

I can't escape a certain album title when trying to square off the mixed emotions of embracing/being resigned to the notion of piped in RAWK music into hallowed Michigan Stadium and the incredible fun of watching this year's squad of kids running around like 4.4/40 maniacs confident beyond their years. That album is of course:

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below


September 15th, 2009 at 2:08 PM ^

I went to the ND game prepared to *hate* the piped-in music. (Aside: So many things in the U.S. get "focus-grouped" nowadays and I feared that Michigan Football was going to get more like that.)

Quite honestly, I wound up liking it. I thought it was generally well-placed and effective (for pumping-up and such).

Now, I might not be thrilled to hear that White Stripes clip more than ten times, but if they mix it up (quick suggestion: Van Halen's Unchained, which would fit in the rotation well) I could probably take a lot more.


September 15th, 2009 at 2:50 PM ^

With Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" - specifically, "Just a City Boy, Born and Raised in South Detroit..." - I couldn't "stop believin'" alright!! Are you freakin' kidding me? They were blaring that worn-out chorus at the Big House! It was predictable, 70's, rusted LTD, 'motor city' schmaltzy crap. I was born in Michigan, a UM alum, a fan of the Mich pro sports teams, etc, etc, and I've ALWAYS sensed that any males who are swaying side to side singing that line at a sporting event would rather be together "...on a midnight train goin' aneee wheeeerrrr!" The only thing missing were the lighters flickering over their heads. Not to mention it's embarassing to think the rest of the non-Detroit world is saying to themselves, what a bunch of pansies. It's not Joe Louis Arena for Cris' sake (and the song sucks there too btw). Suggestions? How about the intro to Van Halen's appropriately named "House of Pain" poundin' off the press box. I'm all for the music but let's make it UNIVERSALLY energizing.


September 15th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

And as an alum who graduated from Michigan not too long ago I can attest that at parties that was one of the best songs to get the party roaring late at night as a good mix in with the usual rap.

How you can be born and raised in Michigan and not like Don't Stop Believin' is beyond me.


September 15th, 2009 at 3:47 PM ^

Journey is good in an ironic way. The party example is right--sometimes you play a song like that at 2 a.m. and everyone sings--that is not an endorsement of the musical merits of Journey, it's a song everyone knows and likes singing together--that doesn't mean they listen at home. I think "Come on Eileen" is a silly song, but try to stop me from singing it while A- drunk at 2, or B- at a game, and we may have to fight.

matty blue

September 15th, 2009 at 4:14 PM ^

jesus christ, shoot me in the head.

there are a THOUSAND ways to cheer and get pumped up at a college football game. do we have to use something that, by definition, we're making fun of?

how about we do the hokey pokey or the chicken dance? hey, everyone knows it, and enjoys singing it while they're a) drunk and b) at a wedding. and they're both good in, you know, an ironic way.

please note that i'm not arguing for or against the RAWK music, only this particular choice. for the intent, it sucks donkey balls.


September 15th, 2009 at 2:09 PM ^

The loss of the MMB has diminished the atmosphere of the Stadium. RAWK Music is merely filling a void created by the quality over quantity MMB crowd and a position on the sideline that effectively eliminates one sideline's worth of fans from hearing the MMB at all.

Move the Band to the north endzone (maybe up high in the endzone as I believe PSU's band is located) and crank the damn thing up to 11.