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Sunday
Oct162011

Brass Harmony Growing

Unlike me, The Ohio State University Marching Band can indeed be several places at once.  It did so at Convocation, half marching the freshmen across campus, the other half awaiting their arrival as they tromped through Ohio Stadium.  It splinters off into small pep bands during Michigan week and scrambles into last-minute bottlerockets of ambassadorship. Even on football Saturdays, when it more than demonstrates its ability to perform well in en mass group projects, it smoothly bifurcates into mirrored Scripts, and little squads haul their horns and bass drums into the upper decks of the stadium in the third quarter. Those in the cheap seats shall inherit the cheer groups.

People point in their wake and say, "There goes the Band!"  It's not "What's up, crapload of flugelhorns?" For wherever two or more are gathered in the name of OSUMB, all 225 are present.

You might not get the full-on echo-glorious, banging effect.  But, as when a sonic boom rips the atmosphere, you know that something tremendous has just happened-- you might not understand the technical intricacies behind it, but you do know that it was marvellously loud, and it was a sublime moment of man doing something wicked cool for once, and it's probably not something you yourself should attempt without risking permanent injury.

The phenomenon of one representing the whole is given where the Drum Majors are concerned, but when the Band stands in for a university with the population of a medium-to-significant resort town, not to mention an entire state with an appreciable amount of breweries and electoral votes, it splashes over the sidelines and right into the cultural psyche. Each row of the Band is its own spectacular galaxy of craft and tradition; together, concentrated, it is a pulsar. From many individual notes, one sonic tsunami.

Those who even so much as brush past it, even in a tailgating haze, might not know a quarter note from a Post-It Note.  But they do know that this brass-flashing marvel pretty much just shredded the space-time continuum one eight-to-five drill at a time.

This is expressed differently amongst the people; some gasp, others scream or applaud or offer the occasional standing ovation.  Or, if you're the five-year-old girl I saw at the Toledo game staring solemnly at the Band as it departed the field in full resplendent march, you wave and shout after them:  "Band people!  Yay for band people!"

I should've resigned the entire book at that point.  She'd said everything I've been struggling to put on paper for the past nine months, and she said it in about four words, without the help of an MFA, an editor, or a badly underused spellcheck.  She knew that band people aren't nothin' without the other band people... and that they should be well-yayed.

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