Reopening the Band debate: Evidence from Hockey

Submitted by umich1 on March 21st, 2010 at 10:28 AM

I recognize the sensitivity of this topic, and simply would like those in the know to answer a couple of questions in light of my experience at the Joe last night.

Of course, last year, there were many debates on here regarding how loud the Michigan Marching Band is in the Big House. Many people, and it was contested of course, claimed it was too many flutes, piccolos, and putting an emphasis on musical quality rather than noise.

Fast forward to the game last night. I was sitting almost directly in line of where the Northern Band was facing. However, when both the Michigan Pep Band and the Northern Band played simultaneously, the Michigan Band drowned them out completely. I understand enough about sound to recognize the closed roof played a factor, but that doesn't answer to me why the Hockey Pep Band was louder relative to Northern's.

1) Does the Hockey Pep Band have the same musical makeup as the MMB (same proportion of flutes, piccolos?)
2) Who is the Hockey Pep Band's director?
3) Can this difference be explained purely by the size of the bands. It looked like Michigan's band had about 6-8 more members.

Perhaps Northern just plays their music softly. I just feel like some people out there with a better knowledge than I can provide analysis and how it relates to the MMB debate.




March 21st, 2010 at 10:43 AM ^

Where were you in relation to the MMB?

Your ears point out the sides of your head, so if the NMU band was directly in front of you, then they would not have had a clear shot at your ears. While if the MMB was to the side of you, they would have been blasting away directly into your ears all night.

That's the only thing I can think of. Both bands were subject to the same closed roof. I also think the hockey pep band is more brass oriented than the regular MMB. NMU's band was most likely similar in composition though.


March 21st, 2010 at 10:52 AM ^

I was sitting in the adjacent corner to the Northern Band. When I was looking at the ice, the Northern Band was pointed right into my right ear. My left ear was pointed right towards the concourse of the Joe.


March 21st, 2010 at 11:32 AM ^

If you were sitting near me, I definitely did. Later, I heard someone scream the traditional "Shegos, get off your knees, you're blowing the game!"

I went absolutely ballistic after a missed interference call in the 1st period and a missed trip in the second, both when we were pressuring in the offensive zone.


March 21st, 2010 at 11:01 AM ^

First, I think the UM band was a good bit larger than NMU's - the easiest comparison was sousaphones, and UM had twice as many of them.

Second, I think it is reasonable to imagine that UM would have stronger musicians, both because there are many many more students to draw from at UM and because they likely draw more talented musicians to Ann Arbor than Marquette.

(mmmmm, my Michigan arrogance is fully functional this morning)


March 21st, 2010 at 12:14 PM ^

1) Roughly yes. It's not perfect but it's a fairly close approximation.

2) John Pasquale, the Assistant Director of the MMB directs the hockey band (Scott Boerma, the MMB Director does Basketball band)

3) Probably. Also, we have a much larger pool of students to draw from, so it's more competitive. The music program at NMU is nothing special. Trust me, I'm from Marquette and know several people associated with the department both as faculty and as students.

M Fanfare

March 21st, 2010 at 12:14 PM ^

1.) Yes (roughly).

2.) Dr. Pasquale, the MMB Assistant Director.

3.) Maybe, but I would venture to guess that the quality of musicianship in the Michigan Band program also is a factor. When a band plays in tune, it is louder (physics will explain why--sound waves and whatnot).


March 21st, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

Michigan had more than 6-8 more members more than Northern. Michigan's band took about 80 people to the Joe, which I'm pretty sure is far more than Northern had. So 3 is probably a pretty significant reason. Out-sizing the other band significantly makes it way easier to play louder. The hockey band is also a really desired ensemble to be in, so it can be pretty selective, even though it's comparatively huge. Whereas he MMB keeps getting smaller and can less easily afford to maintain high standards, because less people are auditioning. If you're wondering why, look at our hockey program over the last 20 years and our football program in the last couple years. One is still hot, the other has stumbled a bit. It's sad, but that's the way things go. It's probably a lot more fun to play for a winning team than a losing one. Hopefully (and it's my personal belief that) in the next couple years the MMB will be able to get more people to audition and get back some size and go from there. Edge: Michigan

3 may also be partially as MaizeMan suggests. When people are in tune, the waves are the same and therefore add and the sound gets louder, when people are out of tune, the waves are different and therefore partially cancel each other out, so the sound gets softer. In my experience it's a significant but not huge effect. Also in my experience, it takes REALLY good musicians to have all 80 be perfectly in tune and I'm not sure they're quite that good, so they'd be pretty much in tune with some phasing most likely. From what I heard of Northern's band last night, they were in pretty much the same boat, though it's easier with less people; mostly in tune with some (ok, a decent amount of) notes that stuck out as pretty ugly. Edge: Michigan

Michigan's band was also playing for their post-season lives and we all know that good things happen when you play with a little bit of desperation :-D Edge: Michigan


March 21st, 2010 at 8:22 PM ^

One word why Northern appeared to be more quiet: intonation. When a group of musicians are in tune, playing in the same key, the separate frequencies coming from each instrument are in phase and will constructively interfere, thus making the band appear to be louder.

Bando Calrissian

March 21st, 2010 at 8:27 PM ^

The MHB sounded GREAT on the TV broadcast last night. It's amazing what a difference it makes to have a great director who actually understands the flow of the game and how a band can fit into the ebb and flow of what's happening on the ice. Pasquale has it down to an art, as is traditionally the norm in the Hockey Band more than any of the other athletic bands, it seems.


April 7th, 2010 at 6:30 AM ^

Since Dollar Bill Martin, has gone from us as AD, the door has once again openned up for SOMEBODY TO DANCE! If you remember, Martin once saw alumni band director John Wilkinson, DANCING on national tv for early season Michigan basketball game. And he didn't like it, and banned the directors from dancing. Now that we have a NEW AD, it's time for the Michigan hockey, football, or whatever band directors, to dance! I asked the hockey band director at the Miami game down at the Joe, why he wasn't dancing? He just said, "no I can't, I'm not allowed"! I think it has to do with that Martin directive, and that he's only been here with the band after the MEMO!



April 7th, 2010 at 6:44 AM ^

Incase you didn't know, the cracked security staff at the Joe Louis Arena, has offically banned the tradition of Michigan-MSU cowbell by the fans. Trust me I know, because I was thrown out two years ago for having one, had mine CHECKED at the door and taken. They claim they have NEVER allowed the bells in the building, eventhough I've brought one since 1988, and put it in the hands of the cracked security staff. And my many many emails to the Joe, the CCHA, the local media, has basically fallen in the DELETE file. But the one response I got back from a person at the Joe Louis Arena, told me that security considers the cowbell to be WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION, a noise maker, and a potential weapon. Now as we all know, dead octopus, and mock lifesize STANLEY CUPS, empty Coke bottles and pizza boxes, make it into the building for every Red Wings game. BUT THAT WAS OKAY!

Thanks to the efforts of the Michigan Hockey Band, as you may have heard on tv and in the background on tv, THE COWBELLS MADE IT INTO THE BUILDING! We banged those 3 cowbells throughout the whole CCHA finals down there, and not ONE JLA security member, came up and took it from us, or even looked at us! SO SUCK ON THAT JLA SECURITY! The cowbell is our tradition, and these out of touch from reality assclowns down at the JOE, are trying to KILL IT! I say, flood them with emails, phone calls, and pass the word that the Joe Louis Arena has banned the Michigan Cowbell.