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 16th, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

Ever seen a mellophone run in any piece by the Cadets, Blue Devils, and Glassmen. It sure kicks the crap out of any run I have seen the piccolos or saxes have in the MMB. Get yourself. If you want musicality join symphonic band. I consider myself more of a music snob than you. I am sorry but the woodwinds are part of the problem.


September 16th, 2009 at 10:14 AM ^

Seems to me Wisconsin and others have 500 member bands, I don't know about this year, but usually the band is 235 marching and probably less sitting in the stadium.

Wouldn't MORE band members make it louder?


September 16th, 2009 at 10:33 AM ^

From the sounds of things there are a few issues here, but one that stands out to me the most. The piped in music will overpower the band every time, no matter what. The band cannot compete with it, at any level, anywhere. Those saying that the band should do more to stave off the piped in music are fooling themselves--the machines will win.

That said, it seems like there could be an opportunity to strike a balance. The band is a key part of the college gameday experience--it can't just be written off. However, there are times during the game when the band (and cheerleaders) just can't do enough to keep the energy up. They are known as excessively long TV timeouts, quarter breaks and other "dead" periods where the band has played a song or two or the Go Blue chant has lingered too long. Fine. Pipe it in (original music selection though, please). Keep the energy level up.

However, during the course of the game I say let the band go nuts and keep the piped in music out of it. There is certainly a way for the two to work together, but it seems like the MO right now is pipe it in and the hell with everyone else. That is bad. The AD, Band, Cheerleaders and DJ need to get together and work it out. Piped in music can have its place, and that place should be to pick up where the band falls short, not to functionally replace the band. It seems like now we're saying that it is one or the other, and that is really, really stupid.


September 16th, 2009 at 10:51 AM ^

Yes, all agree that PIM will be louder than any band, but I think the most important point is to change things so the MMB can be heard at all points in the stadium. Part of the pro PIM argument is that the MMB falls short 100% of the time given that people cannot hear them. If more people can hear the MMB, then the MMB has a better chance of being appreciated as part of the game day experience.


September 16th, 2009 at 10:49 AM ^

You know Michigan Football is back when we beat our rival in one of the most amazing games in the history of the rivalry and one of the biggest stories is about piped in music and the band. This means we are back to the place where we expect to win and are mainly concerned about the tradition of this great program. This is why I love Michigan and why everyone else hates us. Because after we win we're like, yeah, no big deal, freshmen leads a touchdown drive to win it, but how bout that piped in music man.


September 16th, 2009 at 11:15 AM ^

Wait we have a Michigan Marching Band?

I had assumed we discontinued the program since I have not heard them in the last 4-5 years.

Note to Band: Nobody gives a rip about precision and musicality. I'd trade you for the Wisco or OSU Band right now in a heart beat.

God, this thread has been full of whiners. Jeebus.

The message is clear, you dont play loud enough and have not been playing loud enough for years. Do something about it. This is not MGoBlog's fault.


September 16th, 2009 at 2:25 PM ^

If you truly do not care about precision and musicality, then you must be satisfied with being mediocre, because without those two things, then that is all a Marching Band can be. The MMB, however, is not mediocre. If you don't like that, that is your own problem.


September 16th, 2009 at 4:02 PM ^

......get over yourself. This has nothing to do with mediocrity. Nobody cares if the Victors is played with musicality. Most of the stadium can not hear it anyway, so what does that give us?

You guys are currently adding nothing to my gameday experience and its too bad because that is most decidedly a modern development. I have been going to games for 30 years and generally love the MMB and in the last 4-5 years, the MMB has gone flat silent in my section.

You want a blue fucking ribbon for your marching, then go sign up for a competition on football saturdays and dont come to the Big House.

At the football game, play your music loud and do something that involves the whole stadium, not just one corner of the stadium. Then we'll talk.


September 16th, 2009 at 7:55 PM ^

1. What influence do you have? You play music nobody hears, very few people under 50 know or appreciate, and the football team who you're "giving your all for" couldn't care less if you exploded tomorrow if it meant they got to hear Ridin' Dirty during a game.

2. My donations, and the donations my family have made over the years, have probably done a lot more tangible good for the program than any rendition of Iron Man you've ever performed.

3. The University would rather have me and my money than you and your band any day. If you really wanted to lay it on the line and ask what pumps the team up more: A song John Sousa wrote in 1896 or 110,000 screaming fan... well, dude lol.


September 16th, 2009 at 8:41 PM ^

Alright, first of all, I was saying that the day revolves around football, and the fact that you decided to read that I meant it revolves around the band shows...well, that you're not paying clear enough attention.

Second, I know you are not aware of what goes on behind the scenes, but the Band has played for the football team at scrimmages on many occasions and they love to have us. Maybe there are a few outliers who don't like the band, but the team, I can safely say, appreciates the band...along with Rich Rodriguez, and they have told us so. In person. So...yeah...think that speaks for itself.

Third, I'm glad that you/your family have made donations to the University. That's a noble thing to do, and I say that with sincerity. However, donating requires a checkbook. It takes talent, skill, discipline, and most importantly character to march in the MMB. Which of us ought to be more proud of our contribution (no matter which the university would rather have)?

And fourth, The Victors was written by Louis Elbel...not John Phillips Sousa. It's relatively clear you don't know your MMB well enough to be making commentary about it.

Other Chris

September 16th, 2009 at 9:46 PM ^

Why do you think he meant the Victors when he mentioned Sousa? Perhaps he was thinking of the Honor Roll March or Stars and Stripes Forever.

It's not that people generally dislike the band, it is that they are indifferent to it and 1. not being able to hear them and then 2. reading all of your Charlie Weis excuses that it's not the band's fault people can't hear them isn't going to make that indifference go away.


September 16th, 2009 at 10:24 PM ^

Alright, I suppose that is a fair assessment. I just figured he meant The Victors because - well, that's the song that we play the most, and Sousa actually is not in our repetoire. But maybe he was being generic - fair enough.

As for your second remark...I can't control the way people react to the band...if they are indifferent...I don't care very much, as an individual. I mean, I would love for everyone to love us but that will never happen. As long as I know what we're doing is good and benefiting the team, and there are people out there enjoying what we're doing - that is fine. I just have a problem when people blatantly disrespect our efforts - ie, driving past during our rehearsals yelling "F*** Band!" out their car window. Now that has only happened once, but that's the type of thing that really bothers me. But it's the same thing here, saying "It's the band's fault", etc.


September 17th, 2009 at 10:31 AM ^

As for your second remark...I can't control the way people react to the band...

I would suggest one way to at least influence people's reaction to the band is to not come on here and tell people they are ignorant, hysterical, insulting, etc. when they simply say they can't fucking hear you.

Maybe people wouldn't be so hostile to the band if some members of the band didn't come off as jackasses in the first place*. Just a suggestion.

(*and I include myself in that category. Before this thread, I had absolutely no opinion whatsoever on the band. Now I think a lot of you guys are arrogant douchebags and suddenly RAWK music doesn't seem so bad to me. So, good job.)


September 17th, 2009 at 11:05 AM ^

Well, I am sorry that you feel that way. But that does not make it any less insulting when people blame the band for things outside of our control. I can't control the way you react to my comments - you can though. I mean, its clear that many people on this thread are plainly unaware of why we can't simply "be louder". I would also attribute our lessening of sound to the social trend that less people are auditioning - 10 years ago, there were 200 reserves, now there are 30. That's 170 members then than now. So I think that is the most plain reason no one can "hear us" anymore, and I don't think you can fault the band for that - which, by the way, is plainly insulting.

But hey - best of luck to you. Don't form your opinion about the band based on a few angry responses to something we found insulting - we're still the same band, doing the same thing, for the same reasons. What's funny is that I'm sure if any of these people on here met in a different forum (not just online), they would be very positive toward each other.


September 17th, 2009 at 12:46 AM ^

As one band nerd to another, get over yourself. The purpose of the MMB is to provide a great gameday experience. In order to provide that experience, the fans MUST HEAR YOU! In the land called reality, nobody could care or even notice the musicality of the MMB. You are there for the fans. It is funny and not ironic that the only ones on here bitching about the musicality of the MMB are the current MMB members.


September 16th, 2009 at 1:34 PM ^

I was in the band in the 90's. Section leader, Fanfare Band Conductor, Copy Staff, etc. Very involved. I played with my best sound as loud as I could. FWIW, I remember sitting on the opposite side of the field back then (near the corner where Mercury Hayes made the game winning catch over Virginia). I've always thought that the band sounded great and was plenty loud when I was a member. Having been to games and Crisler Concerts and Band-o-Rama's since then, my opinion is that the band keeps sounding better and better.

That said - I think that it is hard to hear the band AND the crowd. "The Big House" is big...but not as loud as I expected it to be. Most likely due to acoustics of the bowl stadium.

Further - I've always maintained that intimidation/home field advantage at a stadium comes from FAN VOLUME during plays. Not music level in between plays. The Horseshoe is an incredibly intimidating and loud place. It always seemed extremely loud at field level -- WAY LOUDER THAN THE BIG HOUSE -- when I was on the sidelines during games. I don't remember the OSU band being overly loud. It was always the fans cheering that made the difference.

Seems like Michigan games were always a bit lacking in fan noise to me. Maybe it's better with the new sky boxes (haven't been there since they were built), but, I still think that most of the noise (in my experience) got sent up in the air, instead of being redirected down on the field. Plus, some Michigan fans tended to be not the most "rabid" supporters. Seemed like most of the stadium was just sitting on their hands/crossing their arms waiting for Michigan to make the big mistake. The students even used to shake their keys for a "key play." I always thought this was a waste of time and didn't seem very loud and...was kinda lame.

To sum up:
1) the MMB is one of the best and most tradition-filled college bands ever. They are loved by UM fans and respected around the informed music community.

2) UM fans (band, students and others) support their team rabidly, but, even the most intense cheering/playing efforts are not very loud due to stadium acoustics.

3) Intimidating stadiums, IMHO, are due to FAN noise, DURING plays at FIELD level. Band volume does not intimidate other teams. However, I think it's unfortunate that the MMB is not easily heard since there is a clear indication (on this forum, anyway) that there is great interest in hearing them.

Finally...A good friend of mine said this to me after the Colorado "Stewart to Westbrook" catch:

"You can only play so loud before the football team has to do it themselves."

Go Blue!

The Granddaddy

September 16th, 2009 at 3:14 PM ^

"Maybe it's better with the new sky boxes (haven't been there since they were built), but, I still think that most of the noise (in my experience) got sent up in the air, instead of being redirected down on the field."

You need to check it out--totally different. I don't know by how much, exactly, but it is SIGNIFICANTLY louder. Very noticeable, at least for me.


September 16th, 2009 at 5:02 PM ^

Why not have the band record some music, and also pipe that in?

Because in the band's eyes, it's not about us hearing them. It's about us appreciating their performance. That's the priority. It's not about us, or the team, or the game. It's all about them.

Look around this thread and tell me that band people are ALL IN for pumping up the crowd and making the stadium louder. Tell me they are all about finding solutions to making the stadium louder.

I don't think they are. At the very least it's not unanimous. They're not with us on this, because again- in their minds it's not about the team, the game, or the fans. It's about them.


September 24th, 2009 at 12:22 PM ^

I will admit that when people are telling you that you don't play loud enough, are not about the team only yourself etc. it does tend to make one feel defensive. Before you make jack-ass comments like this, try and remember that these kids are students who devote a TON of time to be in the group, for no reason other than they want to be there. They return to campus early in the fall, work their asses off before classes begin and then continue to work. Not to mention the injuries they sustain from the high impact pregame. So please, before you come here saying the band members are only about themselves, go watch a rehearsal and then see what you think.


September 16th, 2009 at 2:27 PM ^

How about OUR OWN PLAYERS complaining about too much noise.

From The Wolverine: "We had some communication issues - it was loud - and I think the fans need to remember they need to be quiet when we're on offense" Steve Schilling

Ms. W

September 16th, 2009 at 4:07 PM ^

The biggest problem with not hearing the MMB is where they are sitting in the stadium, the size and shape of the stadium. Only 3/10 of the fans can hear them because they are sitting in a corner and playing straight across the field. Come on UM athletic department! Move the band to the end zone so they can be heard by the majority of the fans at the stadium!


September 16th, 2009 at 4:16 PM ^

Fuck you, band kids. Fuck every single one of you.

Remember when you wore those lame ass "I'd rather be playing Cal" t-shirts before the Rose Bowl?





September 16th, 2009 at 5:41 PM ^

Michigan Stadium has become too loud.

Why doesnt everyone quiet down after first downs, touchdowns, defensive plays, etc. That way they can hear the band.

Also, if they all sit down, maybe then they can see the band, too.

I think eyeryone needs to quit being critical of the MMB. They were hands down better than the WMU band, better than the Notre Dame band, and will certainly be better than the EMU band on Saturday...they always are.


September 17th, 2009 at 12:39 AM ^

Ok...I have to say something. First off, this is really interesting. This is one of the longest comment pages in MGOBLOG history. Over 300 as of this post, showing that this subject has struck a nerve. Secondly, the huge increase of current band members on this comment page is also interesting. Notice that most of them have only a few points (or they lost all their points from negs) Lastly, and this is the most disturbing to be, they are just bitching. "We are just right" "We like our musical approach that is void of volume" This is not really helping your case band. Just bitching is going to make you look like whiners or worse fags.

That being said, I am a MMB alum. We would NEVER sound like this in a public forum. That is right, I'm going to go the way of "back in my day", which was not that long ago.

The members of the band, just a few years ago, were primarily football fans who happened to play instruments. Now it seems like the band is mostly bandos who just happen to play during a football game. I also think that with two years now under Boerma, that the band is listening to Boerma and taking what he says as fact. He says an artsy drum corp is what the MMB should become and you listen to him. In fact, I'm sure he told everyone in the current band about this blog and the post that Brain made and how it was oh so horrible to the band and that is why there are so many new, current band members on the blog now.

Remember, if people can't hear you then what is the point. YOU ARE ENTERTAINERS, NOT ARTISTS! STOP ACTING LIKE ARTISTS. You are becoming irrelevant and just bitching and whining is not going to help your case. You need to accept that no one can hear you and think of a solution. More people is what I'm guessing, but practicing playing louder (with better intonation, remember these are not mutually exclusive) could be another. It could also be a combination of different things.

I'm sorry I had to write an angry post like this, but it had to be done.

In the end remember "MORE DAMN SOUND!"


September 17th, 2009 at 1:06 AM ^

I got tired of reading the same thing over and over again. My history is similar to Craig's and my feelings on the issue are very, very similar.

I marched from '89 to '92. The best-received show we did was the cartoon show. Jetsons, Flintstones, and a Warner Brothers medley with the famous Elmer Fudd opera "Kill da wabbit." It was funny, it was loud, and it played to things the student section understands. (And the Jetsons, especially, was a pretty tricky piece to play on the field...)

I played saxophone, which like piccolos and clarinets, also isn't too loud. There's a pretty reasonable argument for only brass and percussion. (That's one reason similarly sized bands often sound louder than Michigan -- no woodwinds!!!) I consider myself a fairly musical person. I listen to, and have a lot of appreciation for, a lot of music. That being said, when I marched I owned the largest (read: loudest) mouthpiece I could play without passing out during pregame. Pregame was exhausting for me because I was doing my damnedest to play LOUD. In tune, in time -- but LOUD.

I remember reading Michigan Daily, and hearing other, criticisms of the band. I almost always took these personally, so I can understand where a lot of the current band members are coming from. That being said, my advice is to listen to that criticism and take it for what it is worth.

Most of the critics have no idea how much time, work, experience, talent, and sweat go into just the pregame -- which barely changes each week. Never mind the four half-time shows in four weeks that we're half way through. They also have no understanding of how talented the MMB is as a group of musicians. I didn't even fully understand it when I was going through it!

Even so, those critics are the people you're playing for. The staff and MMB leadership should be listening to what they're saying. Think of it this way, all the critics are saying is, "We like what you do so much that we want more of it."

Monocle Smile

September 17th, 2009 at 2:01 AM ^

As a current member of the MMB drumline, I can't believe what the former members are saying right now. Craig, for an ex-band member, you don't seem to grasp acoustics very well. The new boxes would increase the volume of the band...if only we were a bit closer. Unfortunately, we've got thousands of screaming fans right next to them, which is why the decibel level in the stadium is now high enough to cause hearing loss. It's TREMENDOUSLY louder in the stadium than before. You of all people should know that the band doesn't choose where to sit or what direction we point. "Oh, of course, it's the band's fault that they can't be heard." Shut up. Two years ago I broke seven Kevlar heads in a season. Seven. Not because I'm a badass, but because that's what was demanded of me. That's how hard I was told to play. Those horns are blaring as loud as they can without sounding like crap, and believe me, we'd get even more complaints if we could be heard, but sounded terrible. What's the point of being heard if nobody likes what they hear? The Victors certainly deserves to be played well. fags? Really? You went there? That's a disgrace. For the record, nobody in the band cares about "back in your day" because if you hadn't noticed, we've got a new stadium acoustically and a new location since you left. I'm willing to bet none of you had to deal with this type of criticism back in your day and I doubt you knew everybody in the band, so you actually have no idea how you all would conduct yourselves in a public forum. Get off your soapbox.

You don't even know Scott Boerma and yet you make assumptions about his character. Seems rather immature.

Funny thing about drum crops...they are LOUD. I feel blessed to have a guy with corps background running us. Every third comment of every rehearsal for the past two years is "Fill up the big house!" or "Let me hear it!" He CONSTANTLY demands more volume and we do our best to deliver. I live with a trumpet player, and his chops were blown for the last three days of band week because he had played so much and so loudly while trying to maintain intonation. Believe me, they're doing all they can. The trumpets are getting master classes from a grad student with a performance degree about generating more volume with good habits and every section holds at least one sectional a week.

There are a couple of options, and the band has little influence on any of them. Best option: Mic the band. Even two or three mics in front linked to the loudspeakers at merely a low, ambient level would do wonders. But that's not up to us. If you have a complaint, see the Athletic Director.

Boerma mentioned this post, but he told us to ignore it and move on with our lives. He's right, which is why I'm only posting once.