The Ohio State University Marching Band

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The Ohio State University Marching Band
School The Ohio State University
Location Columbus, Ohio
Conference Big Ten
Founded 1878
Director Russell C. Mikkelson
Assistant director Mike Smith
Members 225 (192 regular members, 33 alternate members)
Fight song ""Across the Field", "Buckeye Battle Cry""
Uniform Dark navy blue jacket and pants. White crossbelts, white gloves, black shoes with white vinyl spats. Peaked caps with scarlet and gray plumes.
Website http://osumarchingband.com/

The Ohio State University Marching Band (often called The Best Damn Band in the Land or TBDBITL[1]) performs at Ohio State football games and other events during the fall semester. It is one of the few all-brass and percussion bands in the country, perhaps the largest of its type in the world.[2]

History[edit]

The 2008 Ohio State marching band performing before the Cleveland Browns season opening game of the 2008 season.

Military training was an important part of the early curriculum at Ohio State, and a band was formed to provide music to the cadets for drills. Organized in 1878, the Marching Band, organized first as a fife and drum corps, was sponsored by the Military Department. In 1881, a stolen mouthpiece incident, which prevented the Marching Band from performing, led the Military Department to end support of the band. The band was a student led organization until 1896. Gustav Bruder, a professional musician with military band experience, was hired to lead the band. Under Bruder, the band grew in size and began playing and marching for all military and athletic events. In 1926, the Marching Band did a joint performance with the Ohio State University Drum and Bugle Corps at West Point. The timing between the groups on the field was off because of errant counting, causing the groups to counter march through each other's ranks. This spectacle was considered one of the most intense band formations done on the field at West Point. In 1929, the Military Department, along with the School of Music, entered into a new agreement to bring the Marching Band under control of the School of Music, which would provide faculty, while the Military Department limited membership to cadets, who also received military instruction along with playing and marching. The band was so popular in 1929 that the entire 100 piece block band was composed of upperclassmen. This situation gave Director Eugene J. Weigel the idea to create two additional bands, the Infantry Regimental Band, and the Artillery Regimental Band, which would provide music and marching training to underclassmen until they were able to try out for the Marching Band. These bands met in the Winter and Spring, and together with the Activities Band formed in 1947, created the modern Athletic Band.

During World War II, Ohio State was one of the few colleges that was able to field a marching band for every home game. The band was able to field 100 to 120 musicians throughout the war. Because the band was still under ROTC control, women were not allowed to perform with the band. The band was open to alumni members of the band, woodwind players, vocalists, high school students, even strangers on the street who expressed interest. The morale that this highly volunteer band helped to cheer on Ohio State football during a time when spirits on the home front were at a low. By the early 1950s, the Department of Defense issued much more stringent rules about what courses and activities constitute eligible curriculum for the ROTC program. The Marching Band was no longer an eligible activity, and in 1952, the Marching Band officially ended ties with the ROTC department. Cadets in the band could continue to try out and participate in band, but they would no longer receive ROTC-specific credit. Once the Marching Band separated from ROTC control, the band staff was more free to experiment with show themes and music genres, culminating in the band's 1965 performance of Hang On, Sloopy! After the extremely positive response for Sloopy, the band staff decided to venture into more modern and topical styles of music.

The band maintained a 120-piece block into the 1970s, when director Dr. Paul Droste expanded the band first to 160, and then to 192 members by adding another row of Sousaphones, creating a full row of snare drums, and adding tenor duo-toms to the row of bass drums and cymbals. Women were also admitted into the band starting in 1973, after the passage of the 1972 Title IX legislation. Today, approximately 20% – 25% of the band's members are women each year. By the mid-1970s, a limitation on the maximum number of years one could be in the Marching Band was imposed. Prior to this, there were people who had spent nearly a decade playing and marching with the band. Some of these band members were gainfully employed graduates of the university, who would continue to pay fees to try out for band. A decision was reached to limit the band to 5 years, 6 under extenuating circumstances and director approval. This allowed for more new students to try out and make the band, and also allowed for a better spirit of competition for the 225 total spots in the band.

Many marching band innovations were first tried and developed at Ohio State. Among them are: floating and animated formations, measured step marching, script writing, and the fast cadence with a high knee lift. Brass instruments especially designed for marching bands were also first used at Ohio State.[3] In 1934 the OSUMB adopted an all brass-and-percussion instrumentation, one of the first collegiate bands to do so.

The school fight songs—"Buckeye Battle Cry" and "Fight the Team Across the Field"—were first performed in the early 20th century. Other traditional songs performed by the band are the 1960s pop hit "Hang on Sloopy" and the famous "We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan", which was popularized by James Thurber in the Broadway production of The Male Animal.[4] Other songs that are played commonly in the stands include: "Night On Bald Mountain", "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi", "Bully", "Talkin' Out the Side of Your Neck", "Imperial March", "Seven Nation Army", and a recently student-written and composed piece with a hip-hop feel called "Buckeye Swag."

Following a two month investigation into complaints of a "sexualized" culture amongst band members, Jon Waters was fired by the University. [5] [6]

Performances and Academics[edit]

A typical season with the OSUMB runs from June until January. Starting in June, the band runs Summer Sessions to train and teach new and returning band members. In July, the band performs a joint concert with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. This event is typically performed with 1/2 to 3/4 of the full band, and often accepts volunteers who did not march the previous season. In August, the schedule becomes highly packed. There are often small pep band events throughout Columbus, at OSU's Regional Campuses across the state, as well as on the Columbus Campus. The band performs at all home football games, at an NFL game (either Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns), and at least one or two away games. In 2013, the band performed at four away games, a first for the band. If the football team is eligible for post-season play, the band will travel to those games as well. On away trips, there is almost always an Ohio State rally, put on by the local chapter of the OSU Alumni Association. This rally features guest speakers, the band, and cheerleaders. For trips to the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, the band performs a sit-down concert in the Toledo, Ohio area. There are additional full-band performances such as the Homecoming Parade, Circleville Pumpkin Show Parade, and two big concerts: one in an often remote part of Ohio, and the annual concert in Downtown Columbus at Veteran's Memorial.

The band is typically chosen two weeks before school starts. For those two weeks, the band practices three times a day. Once school starts, the band rehearses Monday-Friday from 4:10-6:15 PM. However, the Band Center doors are typically not locked until midnight, as many band members will do other classwork while practicing and memorizing their music for the week's show. Many shows must be learned in as little as four days, with all music and drill committed to memory.

Tryout process[edit]

Summer Sessions[edit]

Starting in June, volunteers from the marching band, under guidance of the directing staff, conduct twice weekly teaching sessions known as Summer Sessions. These sessions are about three hours long in the evenings and teach every possible fundamental used in the marching style of the band. The very first session starts with the very basics of marching band: standing still at attention or parade rest. Students who try out for the band come from a very wide array of backgrounds, including drum and bugle corps, "corps style" marching bands, "swing style" marching bands, and even for some zero marching band experience. Every session adds a different fundamental, with marching and playing scales accomplished by the second or third session. All previously taught fundamentals are constantly reviewed, allowing for prospective band members to learn at their own pace or ability.

Summer Sessions not only teach marching fundamentals, but also musicianship. Warmups with various brass and percussion exercises are taught, and all who attend are given a copy of the School Songs packet, which contain about a dozen pieces written for the OSUMB and the University as a whole. The songs are rehearsed every week, to help students begin to memorize these important pieces.

The week before tryouts typically sees four days in a row of Summer Sessions, which is typically done to catch those people up who may live out of state and move to Columbus before school starts, or for those who participate in drum and bugle corps, whose competitive seasons usually end mid-August.

Tryouts[edit]

Each August more than 400 student-musicians compete for one of the 225 open slots in the band. Tryouts are open to any OSU student enrolled as an undergraduate, graduate, professional, part-time or continuing education student. The age of a prospective band member is not taken into consideration during tryouts. While the average age of the band is between 18-23, older students do tryout and are chosen. In 2013, 51 year-old Kris Tikson made the band, more than 30 years after graduating from OSU.[7] Every member must try out each year. Students who have not made the band before are required to attend "Candidate Days." Candidate Days compress everything taught during Summer Sessions into two eight-hour practices. These are typically held Friday and Saturday of Tryout Week. Sunday and Monday are reserved for the actual try-out audition sessions. Drill and fundamentals are judged and scored by the row squad leaders, with oversight from the directing staff.

Music auditions are heard by School of Music faculty assisted by well-known instructors with other college or high school bands or drum and bugle corps instructors from the area. Music and marching are judged equally and satisfactory grades in both areas are necessary. The directing staff has final say on all members who make the band. Roughly 100 people will be cut from the band roster on Wednesday afternoon. The remaining people will go through one more tryout session before "Make the Band Night." During this evening tradition, everyone who passed the first round of cuts assembles in the band room, dressed in business casual attire, and awaits the directing staff's entrance in absolute silence. Prior to the announcement of the current year's band, the students gathered sing Carmen Ohio, the school's Alma Mater. The names of the 225 members of that year's band are read, and those who did not make the band are dismissed. Those whose names are called are either a regular member of the band, or an alternate. Alternates typically have lower marching or playing scores than the regular members of the band. As an alternate, a band member is expected to work just as hard as any regular marching member. Additionally, the alternates are eligible to challenge a regular member each week for a regular spot. If the alternate wins, the alternate is now the regular and the regular member is now the alternate who must challenge back for a regular spot.

Composition[edit]

Instrumentation[edit]

An image of the 2008 Ohio State marching band spelling out "Browns" before the Browns 2008 season opener.

The band consists of 225 musicians. The block band seen at every game consists of 192 members. The other 33 members are alternates. These are members of the band who challenge the regular members every week for a spot in the gameday block. The alternates also understudy the week’s halftime show with the squad leader in case someone gets sick or injured before the performance. Alternates have a chance to perform with the regular band members during performances of Double Script Ohio, as well as during pre-game shows on away game trips. All music is memorized and verified during music checks each Friday. On game day the alternates help move equipment around if the show has props or a pit, otherwise they are led by the assistant drum major and stand at attention (minus instruments) on the sideline near the south end of the field. The band block consists of lettered rows ABCEFHIJKLMQRSTX and D. D row consists of one Head Drum Major, one Assistant Drum Major (who is the assistant to the Head Drum Major), and D-Row members who train and learn under the drum major in order to one day try out for the position.

The rows are paired in sister rows as follows: A-X, B-T, C-S, E-R, F-Q, H-M, J-I, K-L. Each row in the 192 block band contains the following:

There are two alternates per row, with the exception of J row. J row has three alternates to allow one alternate per instrument. Other rows with split instrumentation have one alternate per instrument.

While the brass-only configuration has been unvarying since 1934, the instrumentation has been subject to experimentation over the years. Around 1938, slide trombones were removed from the band for fear they could not easily navigate the difficult Script Ohio drill. Trombones were originally replaced by tenor horns, and then eventually by the King 3B valve trombone - a valve trombone wrapped as a Euphonium - earning the name "Trombonium." By 1970, the band adopted the large-bore Conn 90G, prepared by Conn at the OSUMB's instigation. Slide trombones returned to the band in 1980, with the introduction of Bach Model 36 Stradivarius small shank tenor trombones. Tromboniums last marched in the varsity OSUMB block at the 1982 Alumni Reunion game, but continue to be used by Alumni members of the band. In 1997, the band converted the alto voice of the band from Eb Alto horns, to F Mellophones. Several factors including instrument quality and durability, as well as tone projection, were cited in the switch. The last Eb Alto horns purchased by the OSUMB were Yamaha YAH-203's. The band switched to Getzen G4410 F Mellophones, and continued to use those until 2000, when Getzen discontinued that instrument. The band switched to King 1120SP F Mellophones, and slowly phased these, along with the King 1121SP, which is the newest version of King Mellophone, through 2006. All Getzen Mellophones are now used by Alumni Band or the OSU Athletic Band. In 1999, Dr. Jon Woods, a trombone player himself, added Bass Trombones to the trombone section. This was done in an effort to round out the trombone choir, and to give a bit of an edge to Sousaphone parts in climactic music. The first model, and to date, only model of Bass Trombone used by the OSUMB is the Conn 110H. In 2008, the band received a generous donation which allowed the entire high brass section (Eb Cornets, Trumpets, and Flugelhorns) to be outfitted with new Yamaha Xeno model instruments. These horns greatly influenced the sound of the band, as previous models of trumpets and flugelhorns were student level models, which typically are not constructed with the same quality as professional model instruments, such as the Xeno line. In 2013, the band has begun a switch from King 2104SP tenor trombones to a special order Conn 8HY model.

Squad Leaders[edit]

Each row of the band has one Squad Leader, and one Assistant Squad Leader, with exception of J row which has two Assistants. The role of the Squad Leaders is to make sure their respective rows are at rehearsal on time, take attendance for the row, and make sure all members in the row are constantly striving for their best during each rehearsal and performance. Squad Leaders also run Friday music checks and game day uniform and instrument inspections, as well as judge the row challenges on Mondays. The Squad Leaders must also try out for the band, typically during the week before the rest of the band does their tryouts. Squad Leaders have been cut from the band in past years. In this case, the Assistant would become Head Squad Leader, and one of the highest scoring returning band members would be offered the position of Assistant.

Drum Majors[edit]

Since the very early days of the band, there has been a Drum Major in charge of the band. The role of the drum major is to be the student in charge of the band on the field and during performances. Typically, the drum major would be the single point of contact in a military band "chain of command" that would directly interface with the directing staff in regards to complaints, comments, and questions from band members. The role of the drum major has evolved significantly over the years. Instead of simply marching in the front of the band, drum majors began doing tricks with their batons, and morphed into a single person show of pageantry on the field to compliment the band during their formations.

Today, being drum major for the OSUMB is one of the hardest positions to achieve. It is one of the most physically and mentally challenging, and requires the utmost in flexibility, concentration, and on-the-fly thinking and creativity. Typically, there is only one Drum Major and one Assistant Drum Major for the season. The Assistant Drum Major will often wear a different uniform, representative of the uniform that the Drum Major of the OSU Military Band wore. The Military Band was a marching band run separately from the OSUMB that allowed woodwind instruments, and played at mainly ROTC parades and other campus events when the Marching Band was unable to perform or during the off-season of the Marching Band.

In 2013, the Drum Major was unable to perform for the first four games of the season. This necessitated the Assistant Drum Major to assume the role of Drum Major. One of the highest-scoring (at tryouts) D-row trainees assumed the role of Assistant Drum Major. Once the actual Drum Major was able to return to the field, a historic first for the OSUMB occurred. At the 2013 OSU vs Wisconsin game, the band introduced three drum majors for the first time. The band finished the season with two Drum Majors and one Assistant; in 2014 the band went back to one Drum Major and one Assistant.

Student staff[edit]

As well as the 225 marching and playing members of the band, there are 14 additional student staff members who do not march. The student staff are responsible for the day to day happenings on the student level of the band. There are two Heads of Staff who are in charge of separate areas. The Head Secretary oversees the secretary’s office, the Head Manager oversees the Staff Managers. The 14 member Student Staff breaks down as follows:

The band during pregame.
  • Head Manager oversees the two uniform managers, one seamstress, two instrument managers, and two A/V technicians and Record Fund.
  • Head Secretary, two assistant secretaries and one librarian/secretary

All staff members wear the OSUMB uniform and work throughout the entire school year in the band offices. Members of Student Staff, along with the Drum Major Trainees, hold the directors' ladders on the field, stand at intervals along the sidelines to observe for and collect instrument or uniform parts that may fall off during a show, and even dress in costume or work props for the field show. If there are holes in the band due to illness or injury, and the full 225 piece band is required for a performance, Student Staff will march with an instrument. These staff members typically get a "crash course" in the specifics of that instrument's carry and positioning, but are not expected to play the instrument or memorize the music, although memorizing charted positions is often necessary. Many members of Student Staff are musicians themselves, however some do not have brass or percussion backgrounds.

Directing Staff[edit]

A band the size of the OSUMB requires a large directing staff. Jonathan "Jon" Waters became director in 2012, succeeding longtime director Jon Woods. He held the post until his firing in July 2014; the band is marching in 2014 under the interim leadership of Dr. Russell Mikkelson, OSU Director of Bands, and Dr. Scott Jones, OSU Associate Director of Bands. The Associate Directors are Dr. Chris Hoch and Lisa Galvin. The Assistant Director is Michael Smith. The Graduate Student Conductors are Sean DeLong and Matt King. All directors are versed in conducting all of the school songs and show music, and attend various pep band and spirit rally events with the band. The Director is typically busiest with the administrative side of the band, leaving most smaller performances that do not require the whole band to the other directing staff. These directors make up the uniformed directing staff. In addition, other professors from the OSU School of Music regularly conduct the band during performances. These include the Director of the School of Music, and the Director and Associate Director of Bands.

Arranging Staff[edit]

Because of the unique instrumentation of the OSUMB, all music for performances must be custom-arranged. The band typically plays a wide variety of music throughout the season, and employs the expertise of a number of local and well-known arrangers. The first arranger of the OSUMB, Richard Heine, is considered to be most responsible for the unique sound of the band. All staff arrangers since Heine have kept true to the same style of arranging, while broadening the repertoire of the band. John Tatgenhorst became a staff arranger after his wildly successful arrangement of "Hang On, Sloopy!" in the mid 1960s. Other arrangers include world-renowned concert band composer James Swearingen, Dr. Ted McDaniel, SGM Ken McCoy (ret.), Lisa Galvin, and John Brennan. Brennan was the arranger of the very popular Video Game show from the 2012 season.

Adjunct Staff[edit]

To keep the band running smoothly, there is a host of other staff members who wear blazer uniforms and work behind the scenes for the band. Some of these members include the audio engineering staff, announcers, visiting band liaisons, physical trainers, and Drum Major coaches.

Traditions[edit]

Script Ohio[edit]

Script Ohio. Jack Nicklaus is seen dotting the i.

Script Ohio, the signature formation of The Ohio State University Marching Band, is performed before home games. Script Ohio was first performed by The Ohio State Marching Band on October 24, 1936, at the Ohio State versus Indiana University football game. According to The Ohio State University Library, a similar floating formation was first performed during the 1932 season by the University of Michigan Marching band.[8][9]

The Script Ohio is the most identifiable trademark associated with Ohio State Football and The Ohio State University Marching Band. It was devised by band director Eugene J. Weigel, who based the looped "Ohio" script design on the marquee sign of the Loew's Ohio Theatre in downtown Columbus.[10]

The script is an integrated series of evolutions and formations. The band first forms a triple Block O formation, then slowly unwinds to form the famous letters while playing Robert Planquette's Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse. The drum major leads the outside O into a peel-off movement around the curves of the script, every musician in continual motion. Slowly the three blocks unfold into a long singular line which loops around, creating the OSUMB's trademark. Unlike a typical follow-the-leader drill, the Script Ohio is a very specifically measured and charted maneuver. Each band member is required to memorize the counts for each portion of the formation. Squad Leaders, as part of their tryout drills, are required to march a Script Ohio, individually, from their spot in the block to their final charted position to ensure they are counting and not just following the person in front of them. This is also required in the event that the Drum Major is incapacitated for some reason (injury, sudden illness).

Each time the formation drill is performed, a different fourth- or fifth-year Sousaphone player is chosen to stand as the dot in the "i" of "Ohio." Because the Script Ohio formation was one of many new formations included by director Weigel, no extra emphasis was placed on the dotting. Originally, an E-flat cornet player, John Brungart, was the first "i"-dotter. Brungart dotted the "i" two more times that season, in performances during halftime shows against Pittsburgh and Chicago. The first recorded instance of a sousaphone player dotting the i was the final game of the 1936 season on November 21 at home versus Michigan. In the fall of 1937, Weigel turned to Glen Johnson, a sousaphone player, and shouted, "Hey, you! Switch places with the trumpet player in the dot." A year later, when the drum major arrived at the top of the "i" three or four measures too early, Johnson turned and bowed to the crowd to use up the rest of the music. The crowd roared, and the bow has been part of the show since then.[11] Glen then became the second sousaphone player to dot the "i" on October 23, 1937. Since then, a sousaphone player has dotted the "i" over 800 times.[12]

Today, toward the end of the formation, drum major and the "i"-dotter high-five each other. Then with 16 measures to go in the song, they strut to the top of the "i". When they arrive, the drum major points to the spot, and the "i"-dotter turns and bows deeply to both sides of the stadium.[13]

There are two commonly seen versions of the Script Ohio drill: Single Script, and Double Script. A Single Script is performed with the 192 member block band and is the most commonly photographed. A Double Script is performed with 224 of the full 225 member band. The three J row alternates take turns "sitting out" during a performance of Double Script. Double Scripts are almost always performed at away games, NFL performances, and at home games when there is a large number of i-dot eligible Sousaphone players.

At the 2009 Ohio State-USC game, sousaphonist Frank Cosenza Jr. took his position dotting the "i". In the course of taking his bow, the bell of the sousaphone struck the cameraman filming him.[14]

At the 2013 Ohio State - Florida A&M game, the OSUMB performed a single Script Ohio, sharing the field with the Ohio State School for the Blind, which performed a Script Braille Ohio. The Ohio State School for the Blind hosts the only visually impaired marching band in the world. Some students are low-vision, and can march unassisted, but many have almost no visual acuity, and require the help of marching assistants, who guide the musicians on the field. Some students can read very large print music, others can read Braille music, while some simply learn by ear, memorizing parts played to them.[15][16]

Honorary "i"-dotters[edit]

Woody Hayes, Bob Hope, Jack Nicklaus, James "Buster" Douglas, OSU Presidents Novice Fawcett, Gordon Gee and their wives, the late composer Richard "Dick" Heine, Ann Droste, wife of retired director and former OSUMB member Paul Droste, and retired OSU ticket director Robert Ries, and John Glenn and his wife Annie Glenn are the select few non-band members who have had the honor of dotting the "i". Jon R. Woods is the only non band member to dot the "i" during the only game where the OSUMB did Script Ohio twice. OSU alumnus and founder, chairman, and CEO of The Limited Brands Leslie Wexner became the most recent honorary "tittle", dotting the "i" on home side at the OSU-Akron game on September 3, 2011. Wexner was given this opportunity as a sign of gratitude and appreciation for his continued support for all of the university's academic pursuits. This is considered the greatest honor the band can bestow to any non-band member and is an extremely special (and rare) event. The fourth- or fifth-year sousaphone player selected to dot the "i" for that specific game must give up their spot in order for an honorary member to dot the "i". Although not the famous Script Ohio formation, John Glenn and his wife Annie Glenn returned to Ohio Stadium on September 22, 2012, to dot the "i" in the word America during a NASA-themed halftime show paying tribute to Glenn's NASA accomplishments and time as an Ohio senator.

On November 19, 2011, Jon Woods, the marching band's director for the previous 28 years, dotted the "i" in his final home game directing the band. He was informed of the nomination by the band with a note given to him in a special closed ceremony that morning. The November 19, 2011, game was a very special game containing two performances of Script Ohio. The first in its traditional pregame spot featured senior sousaphone player Jonathan Lampley dotting the "i". Woods dotted the "i" in a special second performance of Script Ohio during halftime.[17]

Diamond Ohio[edit]

The Diamond Ohio logo, which is created by superimposing the I over the center of the H, and making the O's into pointed triangles, was first created by the OSUMB in the late 1930s. The band continues to use this formation today every home football game as the team entrance tunnel. There is a historical debate between the Ohio University Marching 110, and The Ohio State University Marching Band as to who created the first Diamond Ohio formation. Ohio University makes claim to originating the design in 1966, under director Gene Thrailkill. However, photographic evidence shows OSUMB director Manley Whitcomb (1939-1942, 1946-1951) charting this formation on a table lined with field markings, and other photographs depict the actual band in performance of the Diamond Ohio as far back as 1939. [18]

Skull Session[edit]

The OSUMB arrives in St. John Arena for the Skull Session. The detail of the Drum Major and Assistant Drum Major uniforms can be seen.

The first Skull Session held at St. John Arena was in 1957. Prior to this, Skull Session was nothing more than a final run through of the music on the morning of the football game. Originally these were closed rehearsals that the band eventually opened up to friends and family members. Each week, more and more people showed up to hear the band rehearse that the director, Jack Evans, decided to move the rehearsal to St. John Arena across the street. Today, upwards of 14,000 people pack St. John Arena every home game to see the band and football team. Many of these people do not even have tickets to the game, but yet travel hours just for a chance to see and hear the band.

During the Skull Session, fans are treated to a variety of activities. Each week the band's "cheer groups" perform a song to go along with the football team's opponent of the week. The cheer groups are selected from their respective sections: Trumpet Cheers (the oldest Cheer Group), Trombone Cheers, Horn Cheers, Baritone Cheers, Stadium Brass (An instrument from every part of the band except percussion), Percussion Cheers (often playing Wipeout) and the Tuba-Fours. At some point after these performances, the football team enters to the sounds of James Swearingen's "Fanfare for a New Era". Immediately after their entrance a pre-selected Senior football player speaks to the band and fans in St. John Arena followed by the Head Coach. The team then exits to the sounds of "Hang On, Sloopy!" Upon the football team's exit, the band commences with the traditions associated with the Skull Session. This includes performance of "Fight the Team Across the Field" first softly and slowly, and on the repeat of the chorus, at the well-known tempo and dynamics. The band is also known for performing Eternal Father, Strong to Save, otherwise known as The Navy Hymn to formally begin every Skull Session concert. The band also plays an arrangement of the hymn tune Thaxted, written by Gustav Holst and based on the middle section of the Jupiter movement of Holst's Planets Suite. If a visiting college band is in attendance they will perform their pre-game and halftime show, followed by the OSUMB's performance of pre-game and halftime. At every Skull Session, there is a guest Ohio high school marching band. The high school band plays various songs before the Skull Session to entertain the audience waiting the arrival of the OSUMB. During Homecoming, the OSU Athletic Band also performs at Skull Session, trading off with the guest high school band on various pieces of music. The OSU Athletic Band is run by the same band staff as the marching band, and often has many students who perform in both.

There is some uncertainty about the future of Skull Session, as The Ohio State University has plans to demolish St. John Arena in late 2014/early 2015. A new multi-purpose arena will be built to house the sports teams that use St. John Arena, however the new arena will be built about 1.5 miles away, which is far too long of a march for the band to make in a timely fashion. Other ideas floated include the Value City Arena, however that facility is about 3/4 mile from Ohio Stadium and would require significant road closures and traffic delays to march the band there.

Ramp entrance[edit]

The ramp entrance is known as one of the most highly regarded traditions among band members, as well as extremely physically demanding. The ramp entrance starts typically around 19:45 on the countdown clock. There is a trailer video shown on the scoreboard prior to the band emerging from the ramp tunnel. At the end of this video, a Diamond Ohio appears on the screen. This is the cue for the percussion section to start down the ramp.

The percussion section (JI Row) is the first to march down the ramp, and onto the field; not to cadences, rather cheers at a precise tempo of 180 beats per minute (bpm). The snare drums perform a unique arm swing as everyone clearly chants O-H-I-O, OHIO over and over. A series of elaborately timed flanking maneuvers called the power "V" leads JI Row into their file in the block.

The "Ramp" cadence is then played exactly 17 times in a row, also at 180 bpm, as the other rows in the band file down the ramp, onto the field, and into their positions. Once a row is placed, the members mark time until all rows are into position.

As the final two rows, T and X file in, their squad leaders nod to the two Sousaphone row's (KL Row) squad leaders, who then sound a loud blast on their whistles. The entire band responds to this call with a deafening yell of "Whistle!". After the last Ramp cadence is played, a roll-off is played, while the entire band (except JI Row) performs a conversion step maneuver, and a horns-up.

The band proceeds to play the intro of "Buckeye Battle Cry" while marking time. This is followed by the verse, while the band goes into what is referred to as a "half-time step" (mark time); one step per every two beats. During the verse, a member's leg lift (completion of a full chair step) is crucial to a clean and precision view from the crowd. Also, during the verse, KL Row performs a special horn flash in which they tilt their bells slightly back, and swing their entire upper body, including their horn, to the tempo of their step. The KL row horn flash is based on the horn swing that OSUMB Sousaphones did while marching until the 1970s. During this half-time step, there is a specific seat in C deck of Ohio Stadium that previous director Dr. Paul Droste always sits in, which gives him a clear picture of the diagonal alignment of the band in the block.

After the completion of the verse, the band proceeds to march southward down the field to two choruses of Buckeye Battle Cry. The band then executes a "halt, kick, down", followed by a "step-forward about-face". At this point, the Drum Major runs back through the band, blowing a short whistle to the lead snare drummer, who initiates a roll off to begin the rest of the pregame show, which includes playing the visiting team's fight song, Script Ohio, and the National Anthem, which is typically conducted by the visiting band's director, or a staff member of the OSU School of Music.

Back bend[edit]

During the introduction and verse of "Buckeye Battle Cry", the drum major enters the stadium running down the ramp, then struts through the band and comes to the front of the ranks where he executes a back bend, forming his or her body into the shape of an O. After a dramatic pause, the drum major’s plume touches the turf while the band starts to play two choruses of the Buckeye Battle Cry while marching toward the South Stands. The drum major reaches the end zone and tosses the baton through the goal post as the band finishes the downfield march. The opposing team's fight song is played as a salute to their university returning the band to midfield before completing the pregame performance which typically includes the highly acclaimed Script Ohio.

Mascots[edit]

Every row in the band, as well as the two Greek organizations, have mascots to represent their row which are typically seen being waved around while the band sits in the stands. Some mascots are a play on the name of the row, while others are representative of important figures in the band, and even yet some are just for fun. A few notable examples include:

  • A-Row Rock (a rock)
  • B-Row Pole (striped scarlet and gray pole)
  • C-Row Crow (a plush crow)
  • E-Row Wile E. Coyote (of Warner Brothers fame)
  • F-Row A model human skeleton named "Bones"
  • JI-Row Flag (a flag of the state of Ohio seen waving after touchdowns)
  • KL-Row Banana (a very large plush Chiquita banana, appliqued with the words BEAT BLUE (a reference to the rival Michigan Wolverines), seen being carried around on the field after touchdowns)
  • R-Row Road Runner (of Warner Brothers fame)
  • S-Row Squirrel (a stuffed squirrel)
  • T-Row Tail (a long haired tail on the end of a tube)
  • Kappa Kappa Psi Tubby (a drum major baton with a trumpet pennant named in honor of the band's first Drum Major - Edwin "Tubby" Essington)

Once in a while, these mascots can be seen on television being waved at the cameras. Others have been featured in various photographs of the band.

Band Jacket[edit]

The OSUMB Band Jacket was introduced in the late 1950s as a way for students to show their pride in the band while not in uniform. It stems from the tradition of High School and College Varsity Letter jackets. The construction of the jacket has not changed much in the 50+ years of its existence. It is a gray wool button-up jacket with a red stripe running from the neck, across the shoulders, and down the side of each sleeve. On the left breast is a Block O patch with a stylized representation of a band member in full uniform doing the trademark chair step of the band. Around the band member are the words "Ohio State Marching Band."

For many years, the basic jacket was all that was worn. Over the years, however, band members began acquiring patches that were given out as souvenirs for bowl games, parades, and various other activities. These patches eventually made their way to the jacket. There are no concrete regulations for wear of patches on the jacket, but typically the following setup is used by band members: right sleeve - bowl game patches, left sleeve - parades, Greek organizations, misc. patches, right breast - Band Varsity letter. There are exceptions of course. If a band member's first year in Band is either a Rose Bowl or National Championship game, the Varsity letter is placed aligned with the pocket flap of the right pocket. If the team wins the Rose Bowl or National Championship, that patch is placed on the right breast. If the team loses, the patch is placed on the right sleeve. All of the bowl trip patches are placed on the right sleeve starting with the first year being closest to the shoulder. If the team is ineligible for a bowl trip, the band typically has a custom patch made celebrating the season. Recent special patches included the 1997 season and the 2012 season patch which commemorated the perfect 12-0 season of Ohio State Football. The left sleeve is reserved typically for the row patch along with various activity patches. Such patches include parade patches, Greek patches, or other unique patches often worn on the band uniform. In past years, band members could earn spare uniform patches by helping out the Student Staff with big tasks around the Band Center. Another common patch placed on the jacket is the Diamond Ohio patch from the beret. Band members purchase their beret, and it is theirs to keep once they leave the band. Some students choose to remove their beret patch and sew it onto the band jacket, often signifying their completion of time with the band.

Blazer Uniform[edit]

The Blazer uniform is the official uniform of the band for traveling and some performance events. The details of the uniform are described below, but a tradition among band members is the collection of pins. Many band members only collect pins signifying bowl games. Others collect pins for every event they attend. Some band members wear pins of the opposing team for every away game they have traveled to. Two common pins worn by almost all band members are the Block O pin, which is given to every incoming freshman that attends Ohio State, as well as the Diamond Ohio pin, typically awarded after making the band for a second year. Other pins are allowed, such as Greek pins (Kappa Kappa Psi, Tau Beta Sigma, Phi Mu Alpha, etc.) musical lyre pins, Ohio State logo pins, and even Drum Corps pins if the member has marched or performed in a DCI or DCA Drum and Bugle Corps. Typically, as long as the pins are relevant to music or the university, and not unnecessarily tacky, they are welcome on the Blazer.

Uniforms[edit]

A 1930s or early 1940s Ohio State University ROTC uniform. The red and gray Shoulder Sleeve Insignia and ROTC Honor School Award star are visible in this photograph.

Early years[edit]

modern Eagle Ohio

The current OSUMB uniform is very different from the earliest uniforms. The earliest band uniforms were military in style and were pieced together from U.S. military uniforms with pieces dating back to even Civil War era. High collar jackets were the first solidified design for the band uniform. The first hats worn by the band were Pershing style military visor caps with military “peace” eagles as the hat emblem and red and gray “powder puff” plumes, so called because of the very fine, almost down-like feathers with which they were constructed. OSU also experimented with gray wool bucket hats that looked similar to a kepi or shako with a plume.

As a Land-Grant school, Ohio State was required to provide military training as part of its core curriculum. Prior to World War II, each college ran their ROTC program as an independent organization with National guidelines. Each college designed their own uniforms and insignia to promote esprit de corps. Once an ROTC cadet graduated and received a military commission, then the new officer would wear the uniform of their respective branch. After World War II, ROTC programs were modified, ending college-specific uniforms for non-military colleges, and allowing cadets to wear the uniform of their chosen branch.

OSU ROTC's shoulder insignia was a red and gray circle, similar in appearance to a Pepsi-Cola logo. This was worn on the right shoulder. On the right sleeve, a five pointed star signifying OSU was the recipient of the ROTC Honor School award was worn. Near the cuff of the left sleeve, a shield patch with U.S. R.O.T.C embroidered on it was worn. If the cadet had attained a rank in ROTC, they wore their rank insignia on each sleeve. The color of rank chevrons and the ROTC shield patch were determined by the military division in which the cadet was looking to commission. For example, an Artillery cadet would wear a black shield with scarlet lettering and black chevrons on a scarlet background, while an Infantry cadet would wear a black shield with teal lettering and black chevrons on a teal background. The hat took on a more modern look as well, looking more like the modern military style visor hat. ROTC chin straps and uniform buttons were gold colored. The peace eagle remained, but an addition was made to the eagles, an extra banner that arced above the E. Pluribus Unum banner from the eagle’s beak. This banner simply read “OHIO,” earning the OSUMB’s peace eagles the nickname “Eagle Ohio.” These early Eagle Ohios were made in gold colored metal to match the buttons and chin strap of the uniform jacket and hat. The regular uniform of an OSU ROTC cadet included a navy blue service coat, a light blue dress shirt, black tie, navy blue pants, white cotton spats, black dress shoes, and a white canvas belt with a gold buckle.

This uniform was standard for all branches of ROTC. Since the OSUMB was under control of the ROTC department for much of its early existence, the band uniform was simply the ROTC uniform with more additions, such as plumes, gloves, and West-point style Cadet cross belts. The red and gray plumes took on more of an upright style that is still seen today. Kappa Kappa Psi, the national honorary band fraternity, designed a special recognition bar for wear on band uniforms by brothers during these early days of college bands. This recognition bar is the same size and shape as a military ribbon. The bar is blue and white, separated along a diagonal axis, with the Greek letters K K Ψ along this diagonal. The letters are gold. This bar was to be worn on uniforms in the same manner as military ribbons, and the OSUMB allowed all KKY brothers to wear this bar.

Kappa Kappa Psi Recognition Bar, worn up until the 1960s.

1950s–1980s[edit]

In 1952, the OSUMB formally ended ties with the ROTC department. Around the same time, the Lily Ames Co., the last supplier of OSU specific ROTC uniforms, closed its doors. OSU bought the remaining uniforms from Lily Ames for use by the band. The band had custom patches created to be sewn on to the jacket shoulders. Rank insignia was also removed from the band uniforms. The right shoulder held a gray circular patch with a red Buckeye leaf and around the edge of the patch read: The Ohio State University Buckeyes. The left shoulder patch was a miniature of The Ohio State University seal. The patch was red with the edge reading: The Ohio State University -Columbus-. During this time, Tau Beta Sigma, the national honorary band sorority, became active in the OSUMB as well, even though women were not permitted to be in the band on the field. At this point, all of the sisters of the sorority were given unique uniforms. The sisters wore the same jacket, shirt, and tie as the band members. The sisters wore long military-style dress skirts, hose, and female style military dress shoes. The sisters wore their TBΣ recognition bar (identical to the fraternity version) on their uniforms. Women could fulfill roles with the band as secretaries and librarians, but were not permitted to march.

During the 1960s and 1970s, these uniforms became outdated and needed to be replaced. The Fechheimer Bros. of Cincinnati created some uniforms for OSU. These uniforms were the same navy blue as the previous uniforms, except the buttons were changed to silver. At this time the chin straps and Eagle Ohio were also changed to silver. The plumes took on the modern red and gray appearance and were constructed of tough turkey feathers. The spats were changed from cloth to vinyl during this time as well. The shoulder patches changed design and size. The uniforms changed very little from the 1970s until 1988, except for things like hat manufacturer, a short period in which a large metal diamond Ohio replaced the Eagle Ohio, and the use of aluminum hat bands instead of the silver adjustable type. After the directorship of Charles Spohn, the Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma recognition bars were no longer authorized for wear on the OSUMB uniform. During the expansion years in the 1970s, many uniforms dating back to the 1940s had to be dug out of storage and updated with the current patch designs of the band. To a careful and up-close observer, one would notice significant differences in the cut and style of the uniforms being worn. Even hats were not standardized. The only common thread among the uniforms was the color, which even began to fade on older uniforms. It was common practice for band members to use black marker to fix frayed parts of the uniform which exposed white cotton lining. These uniforms also had to be used by the Military band, and were falling apart. Pieces were sourced as needed from manufacturers such as Ostwald, Bayly, Frechheimer, and DeMoulin Brothers. The Fechheimer Corporation began producing a police uniform in the 1980s that matched the design of the Marching Band uniforms. These eventually became the standard replacement uniform coat until 1989, when Dr. Woods commissioned a new uniform style.

1988 remodel[edit]

This is one of the buttons on the OSUMB uniform. The detail of the Great Seal of Ohio can be easily seen.

In 1988, Dr. Jon Woods commissioned the biggest changes to the OSUMB uniform. The Fechheimer Bros. also constructed these uniforms. Everything visible was changed to some extent. These uniforms debuted for the homecoming game against Purdue in 1988. The list of changes is as follows:

  • Hat: The hat now comes from Bayly Co. and resembles a U.S. military visor hat to an extent. The top of the hat is still Navy Blue, but the hat band is now red with silver piping instead of the previously used black fabric. A silver chin strap is worn on the hat. The Eagle Ohio design was cleaned up and the molds cast thicker to make the eagle more easily withstand the rigors of OSUMB maneuvers. For the first time the hat also came with a built in plume socket. Before this all plumes had to be attached directly behind the Eagle Ohio, which caused wear and tear on the front fabric of the hat.
  • Beret: The band wears red military-style berets while sitting in the stands. On the berets is a red and gray Diamond Ohio patch.
  • Jacket: The jackets were restyled to be more friendly to rugged marching, while still keeping the appearance of the military style. The changes included thicker material and extension slots behind the shoulders which allowed for greater arm movement in the uniform. The patches were enlarged slightly, but still contained the same designs as the original patches from the 1950s. A diagonal red stripe with silver edging was placed on the outer half of the jacket sleeves. The shoulder straps on the uniform were now sewn down, with buttons placed for image. The sewn shoulder straps were stronger than the buttoned-down shoulder straps, and designed as such because the demands of the OSUMB marching style, combined with the tightly worn cross belts, put stress on the straps and caused buttons to pop off.
  • Cross Belts: Because of the redesigned shoulder straps, the cross belts also needed to be redesigned. The original style belts were one-piece construction that were adjustable at the waist plate and by adjusting bars on the shoulder loops. The jacket's shoulder straps would unbutton, the pre-crossed belts slid under them, and the straps were buttoned again. The current cross belts are still one piece, but the shoulder loops button onto the front waist belt section so that the shoulder loop can be passed through the sewn-down shoulder straps. All cross belts are worn right over left.
  • Trousers: The trousers were military-style pants, which, when properly worn, button and zip up at the waist as opposed to the hips. The pants have zipper expansions on the side seams for the waist area. The pants are able to be worn using three different means of support: belt, button suspenders, or tab suspenders.
  • Spats: The spats are white vinyl with white elastic loops that run under the shoes.
  • Shoes: The shoes are U.S. Military black dress shoes.

During the 1990s, the Fechheimer Bros. left the business of marching band uniforms and the Fruhauf Company took over. A bit of trivia: the uniform style designed by Fechheimer for the OSUMB is now a staple of Fechheimer's "Flying Cross" brand of Police, Fire, and EMS uniforms, known as the Legend Single-Breasted Dress coat with Simulated Pockets.[19] The Fruhauf uniforms had a slightly different styling, going back to button-down shoulder straps and removing the expansion panels behind the shoulders. From a distance there was no difference between the two styles, so Fruhauf uniforms were purchased as needed to replace retired Fechheimer uniforms.

2006 changes[edit]

From 1989 until 2005, it was common practice for the Marching Band to only purchase a few new uniforms each season to replace badly worn, damaged, or lost pieces. The Fruhauf Company made these small batches of uniforms. In 2005, a benefactor to the OSUMB donated a significant amount of money to buy new uniforms for the entire band. The benefactor wanted to uniform the entire band and not just have the money used for replacement uniforms. Dr. Jon Woods decided that additional small changes would help to give the band a new, fresh look for the 2006 season. The minimal changes include updated sleeve stripes (new stripes consist of one red and one gray stripe) to minimize the wearing out that the old stripes suffered, uniform patch alignment, and a slit placed underneath the left breast pocket flap for the snare drums to attach their drums through (the common practice through band history was to cut a hole underneath the pocket flap to allow the attachment clip to pass through the uniform).

The OSUMB marches to Ohio Stadium after Skull Session. Seen in detail are the drum major uniform and the director’s uniform. The four sleeve stripes and “scrambled eggs” visor show that Jon Woods is the director of the band.

2013 changes[edit]

In 2013, the band received a substantial boost in funding, which has allowed the band to supply more uniform parts free of charge that were previously purchased by band students. The band is also purchasing new cold weather overcoats that can be worn on the field during a performance. Previous cold weather coats included black wool, collared jackets from Holloway and Liz Claiborne. This year, the band has switched to double breasted wool overcoats which are similar to the U.S. Army's Class A overcoat. This coat features six Great Seal of Ohio buttons, and has large pockets to keep band members' hands warm while not playing their instrument. The band has also changed the vinyl spats. Previously worn spats had white elastic straps, which were a custom ordered product. Due to shortages in marching band spats across the United States, the band opted to wear standard white vinyl spats which have a black elastic strap. Many comments from band members state that the black-strapped spats actually hold up better than previously worn designs. Beginning in the 2011 season, the first few football games of the year have been exceptionally hot. This is primarily because of the synthetic turf field that has been installed, which is made of rubber and plastics, which absorb heat much more than natural turf. This has raised temperatures at field level upwards of 120+ degrees on the hottest of days. It has become so warm that athletic trainers who work with the band made the decision to let the band remove their jackets and hats after halftime.

Drum Major uniform[edit]

The drum major’s uniform has gone through countless changes since “Tubby” Essington’s uniform in the early days of the band. Every drum major of the band is custom-tailored into their uniform. Shortly after drum major tryouts in the spring, the Fruhauf Uniform company sends a representative to take exact measurements of the drum major and assistant drum major. At this point, the drum major is free to take artistic license on the style of their uniform. They can choose to model their uniform on a style consistent since the 1950s, with minor changes or they may choose to make more striking changes, which require approval of the drum major coach and directing staff. Most drum majors only choose small modifications, such as wearing of tassels on the tall fur hat or the set up of any cords worn adorning the hat. The modern drum major uniform, chosen by most drum majors without significant altering, has its roots in the 1950s. The current drum major uniform consists of:

  • Hat: The drum major wears a traditional white busby hat. On the front is a decorative red cord. A long red turkey feather plume is attached via a plume socket on the drum major’s right side of the hat. This is the plume that meets the turf in Ohio Stadium every Football Saturday during the backbend. The drum major also wears a red beret, which is conveniently stored in the tall busby while the busby is worn.
  • Jacket: The drum major’s jacket is custom fit to him or her for maximum mobility. The jacket is red and has long tails on the back and is sized down to the wearer’s waist in front. On the front, concealing the buttons that the wearer uses to get in and out of the jacket, is a plaque. This plaque attaches with 14 Great Seal of Ohio buttons. In the center is a gray circle with a red Buckeye leaf and the word OHIO repeated continuously around the edge. Traditional military dress epaulettes are worn on this uniform, which are white and have decorative hanging tassels. On the sleeves are white trefoils and below the trefoils are gray cuffs with an embroidered block O.
  • Trousers: The drum major’s pants are heavy duty polyester bibbers. These long trousers have built-in suspenders and have a red-white-red stripe down each leg.
  • Shoes: The drum major wears black athletic shoes with no other colors visible, and wears spats that extend up the calf to give the resemblance of boots.

Assistant Drum Major uniform[edit]

The Assistant Drum Major's uniform is a uniform that is seen relatively infrequently. The uniform is based on the uniform worn by Elvin Donaldson, as well as the standard uniform of the OSU ROTC Department. Donaldson was a student conductor of the OSUMB in the late 1920s. In this position, Donaldson, along with Drum Major "Tubby" Essington, were the two band students who ran rehearsal and performances on behalf of the band staff. The assistant drum major is fitted for both the assistant and main drum major uniforms, as the assistant wears full uniform for post game performances, Double Script Ohio, and on all away trips. The assistant drum major uniform contains:

  • Hat: The hat used by the assistant drum major is a regular band hat with a navy blue braid on the normally silver and red portion of the hat. The standard silver chin strap and Eagle Ohio are worn. No plume is worn.
  • Jacket: The jacket worn is nearly identical to the regular band uniform, and therefore requires the wearing of dress shirt and tie. The only differences are the sleeve cuffs, which are gray and have a white trefoil and red block O similar to the drum major’s cuffs (instead of the red/gray stripe), and two extra buttons under the shoulder straps which are used to attach the drum major cord. The cord is a red and gray citation cord with a metal tip.
  • Waist belt: The assistant drum major wears a simple waist belt instead of the cross belts.
  • Trousers: The assistant drum major wears the same pants as the rest of the band.
  • The assistant drum major wears normal band shoes, but does not wear spats.

2013 Assistant Drum Major Uniform[edit]

In 2013, the chosen Drum Major was unable to perform for the first several performances. This necessitated the elevation of the Assistant Drum Major to Drum Major, and the elevation of a D-row member to Assistant Drum Major. Once the original Drum Major was able to return, it was decided that neither of the other Drum Majors should have to take a demotion. This introduced a historic first of three drum majors. It is uncertain whether this was a one-time event or if this may happen in following years. Only when the band performed a double Script Ohio were both Drum Majors wearing the red and white uniform. The rest of the time, the second Drum Major, along with the Assistant Drum Major, wore the navy blue uniform.

Director uniforms[edit]

The directing staff has worn uniforms of differing style to the marching band since its inception. The uniforms took on a style similar to the U.S. Navy’s double-breasted dress jacket in the 1940s and 1950s. Directing staff had two thin golden stripes running around the circumference of the cuff area of the sleeves, similar to the U.S. Navy’s ranking system stripes. Directing staff also wore two lapel lyre-shaped insignia. These were gold along with all of the buttons on the uniforms. The directors wore the same hat as the marching band minus the plume.

Director uniforms had come in various levels of decoration, some being very basic, others having plenty of designs and embroidery. Directing staff started using a sleeve stripe ranking system under Jack Evans, but pictures from Evans' and Charlie Spohn's directorships show that there wasn't a clearly defined pattern for the stripes. Eventually, Dr. Paul Droste introduced the sleeve rank structure used today. His uniform had three stripes denoting him as director, and the Associate director, Jon Woods, had two stripes. Droste also was the first to use a military style hat with the “scrambled eggs” acorns and leaves visor. Other directors had used various styles of band hats with varying levels of ornamentation. Woods and Jonathan Waters continued the scrambled eggs tradition with their uniform hats. The directing staff today wears the following:

  • Hat: The directing staff wears black, airline pilot style hats with a silver chin strap and Eagle Ohio.
  • Jacket: The jacket is a double-breasted U.S. Navy dress blues jacket. The buttons are silver Great Seal of Ohio buttons like the student band uniforms. The band uses 1/2" silver braid on the sleeve cuffs to denote a band staff members' position, using a system similar to the U.S. Navy. The ranking system of the directing staff is as follows:
  • 4 stripes and “scrambled eggs” hat visor: Director
  • 3 stripes: Associate Director
  • 2 stripes: Assistant Director / Percussion Instructor
  • 1 stripe: Graduate Assistant Conductor(s)
  • Trousers: The trousers are matching black U.S. Navy issue dress pants.
  • Band staff wear black band shoes without spats.

Other members of the band staff such as School of Music staff who conduct (including Dr. Mikkelson and Dr. Jones during their term of interim leadership) and Marching Band staff who do not conduct wear gray blazer jackets with the OSUMB crest embroidered on the left pocket, white dress shirt with an OSUMB red tie (or any red styled tie), black dress pants and shoes.

Blazer Uniform[edit]

Prior to the 1960s, the band wore a modified version of the full uniform on all away trips. The modified uniform was also worn when the band was in concert. This consisted of the band hat without plume and a white waist belt was worn instead of cross belts. The band also wore a red citation cord on the left shoulder. As more away trips were taken, the band found it necessary to create a separate travel uniform which allowed the regular uniform to stay clean and pressed. Band students wear a black blazer with a patch of the OSUMB crest on the left brest pocket, white dress shirt, red OSUMB tie, gray pants, and black shoes. While not technically allowed, many band members can be seen wearing their band hats on away trips using air travel, as the hats cannot be placed in the luggage bays for fear of breaking. Band students often collect pins at various functions they attend, which they then wear on the Blazer uniform.

Band staff all wear gray Blazers with an embroidered OSUMB crest on the left breast pocket, white shirt, red OSUMB tie, black pants, and black shoes. While pins are generally not worn by band staff, some members do wear one or two.

Gray Uniform[edit]

The Gray Uniform has been seen in photos as early as the 1960s. The purpose of the Gray Uniform is to give the band staff an idea of what the band looks like in formations while all dressed alike. This allows for last minute modifications to drill without making the band wear full uniform. The Gray Uniform is nearly identical in use and wear as military Physical Training uniforms. The Gray Uniform consists of a gray T-shirt and gray shorts. The band hat with plume is worn with this uniform. In 2013, additional funds allowed for the purchase of new moisture-wicking shirts and shorts, as well as zippered windbreakers, sweatpants, and hoodies for cold weather. To save on wear and tear on the band hats, all band members also received gray OSUMB baseball caps. Some performances around campus simply want members of the band, regardless of uniform, so the Gray Uniform with baseball cap is considered to be a relaxed uniform for the band.

Instruments[edit]

Current Instruments[edit]

The band after marching into the stadium.

The OSUMB uses only the brass and percussion instruments listed below:

S - Yamaha Silver Plate, SP - King/Conn Silver Plate, SB/SBW - King/Conn Satin Silver Special Order Plating

Brass:

  • E♭ Cornets (Yamaha Xeno YCR-8620S)
  • B♭ Trumpets (Yamaha Xeno YTR-8335GS)
  • B♭ Flugelhorns (Yamaha YFH-631GS)
  • F Mellophones (King 1120SP and 1121SP)
  • B♭ Tenor Trombones (King 2104SP and Conn 8HYSP, both large shank)
  • Bass Trombones (Conn 110HSP)
  • Baritones (King 625SB)
  • Sousaphones (Conn 20KSBW)

Percussion:

  • Snare drums (Pearl custom-made 10"x14" free-floating shell)
  • Cymbals (Sabian 18" HHX Evolution)
  • Tenors (Sextets) (Pearl Custom-made series 6", 8", 10", 12", 13", 14" sets)
  • Bass Drums (Pearl custom-made)

Previously used instruments[edit]

The Marching Band has used instruments from the following manufacturers in past years.

Brass:

  • E♭Cornets - Getzen Capri, York
  • B♭Cornets and Trumpets - Getzen Capri,
  • B♭Flugelhorns - Getzen Capri, Yamaha, Couesnon
  • E♭Alto Horns - Yamaha, Holton, Couesnon, H.N. White/King
  • F Mellophones - Getzen
  • B♭Tromboniums and Tenor Horns - Conn, King
  • B♭Trombones - King, Bach, Reynolds
  • B♭Baritones/Euphoniums - King, Conn (Double belled Euphoniums were also common)
  • Sousaphones (E♭and B♭) - Conn, King

Percussion:

  • Snares - Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig, Gretsch (various models have had wood or aluminum shells)
  • Tenors - Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig (Ludwig created the first set of canvas strapped tenor duos for the band, whereas trios and quads were worn with standard shoulder harnesses)
  • Basses - Pearl, Yamaha, Ludwig, Gretsch
  • Cymbals - Sabian, Paiste

Discography[edit]

  • Ohio State Volume 1 (1958)
  • Ohio State Volume 2 (1960)
  • Ohio State Volume 3 (1963)
  • Saturday Afternoon At Columbus (1965)
  • Stadium Favorites (1966)
  • Buckeye Battle Cry! (1968)
  • California Here We Come! (1970)
  • Across the Field (1973)
  • Stars, Stripes, 'N Brass (1975)
  • Buckeye Bandstand (1977)
  • Hats Off to Heine (1978)
  • Ohio State Plays Ed Montgomery (1978)
  • Foot Tappers (1980)
  • Brass Roots (1982)
  • The Pride of the Buckeyes (1984)
  • Script Ohio (1986)
  • Strike Up the Band (1988)
  • Buckeye Brass (1990)
  • Hang On Sloopy (1992)
  • Chimes and Change (1994)
  • Hey! Buckeyes! (1996)
  • Buckeye Blockbusters! (1998)
  • A Touch of Brass (2000)
  • New Era (2002)
  • Road to the National Championship (2003)
  • The Glorious Sounds of Christmas (2005)
  • The Pride of the Buckeyes Volume II (2005)
  • I Wanna Go Back (2007)
  • Hang On Sloopy Volume II (2009)
  • Buckeye Nation (2011)
  • Time & Change (2013)

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Notes
1996 My Fellow Americans In the movie, Senator Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon), a Republican from Ohio, wins the election for President of the United States. A pep band, made of mostly squad leaders, was asked to perform for the celebration scenes. The band can be seen for several seconds during the opening credits.
2006 The Pride of the Buckeyes A documentary produced by WOSU Public Media which follows the Marching Band through the 2005 season. The program starts with scenes from Summer Sessions and Tryouts, and continues through the season, culminating with scenes from the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, and 2006 Drum Major tryouts.

Accolades[edit]

The Ohio State University Marching Band has been honored with The Sudler Trophy for outstanding college band, and in 1988 was featured in a multi-page article in USA Today.

The band has also performed in seven Inaugural Parades. The band represented the State of Ohio during the inaugurations of Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon (1969 and 1973), George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush (2001 and 2005), and Barack Obama (2009).[20]

In 2006, the Marching Band was featured during a taping of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Stewart brought his program to Columbus to spotlight Ohio's 2006 gubernatorial race. The band performed an arrangement of the show's theme music, and was featured during a closing segment known as the "Moment of Zen."[21]

During the October 6, 2012 football game between University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Ohio State University, the Band performed a tribute to video games, containing music from games such as Pokemon, Super Mario Bros., Halo, Tetris, Pac-Man and The Legend of Zelda. During the performance, the band executed arrangements based on these video games, including a falling set of Tetris blocks, and an animated galloping figure of the horse Epona. A fan's recording of the performance posted to YouTube the next day soon became a viral video, spread in part through video game fans that were directed to the video.[22][23][24] The band's interim director at the time, Jon Waters, had planned for the performance based on the national broadcast of the night game, and that the video game theme would resonate with the college students that had grown up with the games.[22] With the widespread attention to the performance, the school promoted Waters from interim to permanent band director.[25]

The September 7, 2013 game against San Diego State University, put together on four days notice, featured music from television game shows The Price is Right, Family Feud, Jeopardy (with an appearance by Alex Trebek), and Wheel of Fortune, as well as jabs at the University of Michigan.[26] The September 28, 2013 game against the University of Wisconsin featured a Country and Western themed show which received numerous accolades for a formation of a singing cowboy removing his hat, as well as a steam locomotive racing across the field. For the Homecoming game on October 19 against the University of Iowa, the band performed a tribute to Michael Jackson, featuring the OSU Gospel Voices choir for "Man in the Mirror." During the show, band members performed individual "Moonwalks," and also created an image of Michael Jackson performing a Moonwalk across the field, complete with sequined glove. This tribute has been seen on YouTube by well over 8 million people, and was featured on many television programs and newspapers. The performance even attracted the attention of Katherine Jackson, Michael's mother. She was quoted as being very thankful and gracious for the band's performance of Michael's music.[27]

However, the accolades did not stop there. With four days of preparation, the band performed a Movie themed halftime show at the October 26 game against Pennsylvania State University. This performance featured music from Superman, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Formations performed included an image of Superman righting and steadying a collapsing building, Harry Potter on a broomstick chasing a Snitch during a game of Quidditch, a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing and eating a person wearing a University of Michigan football jersey, and two pirate ships, one with an Ohio State flag, and the other with a Michigan flag, engaged in a high seas fight, with the OSU ship ramming the Michigan ship and sinking it. This show has had well over 12 million views on YouTube, and the back-to-back success of both shows has caught the attention of national media. Many news media outlets have been doing interviews with band members, the directing staff, and other University officials on the successes of the band program.

On November 23, 2013, The Onion, an online news satire website, featured a doctored image of the Marching Band forming a Pentagram on the field during a performance. This satire of the band was partially done because of a YouTube video that is no longer available, in which the video's creator claimed the band program was under demonic possession.[28]

The 2014 marching band season was difficult for band members and staff alike, with an interim directing staff and the national spotlight being turned on the program in a negative light due to the release of a report by the University claiming a "sexualized" culture. Many people in the media questioned whether the 2014 band would be able to continue to impress audiences without the leadership of Jon Waters. The band took to the field in Baltimore, MD, for the season opener against the United States Naval Academy. This condensed show featured much more traditional military-band style symmetrical drill that emphasizes precision. The band also created an image of soldiers marching with a Civil War regimental flag. The band also played the Navy service song and formed a floating anchor, a formation first performed by the OSUMB in 1934, also at a game versus the Naval Academy in Baltimore. This show ended with a double Script Ohio. The show was well received by fans from both schools and was featured in national headlines for being the first performance of the band since the termination of their director. For the first home game of 2014, the band performed a tribute to classic television shows, including Dragnet, The Simpsons, The Addams Family, M*A*S*H, I Dream of Jeannie, The Office, Game of Thrones, Hawaii Five-O, The Brady Bunch, and The Lone Ranger. Drill selections included Bart Simpson on a skateboard, Thing waving to the audience, a helicopter blowing up a Michigan Block M, a costumed Jeannie appearing from her magic bottle, a surfer riding a wave, costumed Brady Bunch characters in their trademark squares, a fire-breathing dragon, and the Lone Ranger's horse Silver galloping across the field. This show instantly became a viral hit, making news across the country. The band titled the show "TV Land, Too!" and had a large banner with the TV Land network logo on the field. The TV Land network responded to the band by releasing a video thanking them for celebrating classic TV. Actor Tom Hanks also gave the band substantial credit via Facebook and Twitter for this show.

The second home game also featured the annual Alumni reunion. To date, the largest turnout of band alumni prompted the band staff to feature both bands on the field for a substantial portion of the show. The show theme was D-Day, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Normandy. Selections included This is My Country, American Patrol, a medley of military service songs, and America the Beautiful. The band formed an animation of the famous image of a sailor kissing a woman in New York City upon returning home from the war, an army tank, ship anchor, the planting of the American flag on Iwo Jima, a classic twin engine bomber aircraft, and a coast guard boat. The nearly 800 band alumni framed the current band during most of their formations. America the Beautiful ended with the unfurling of a giant American flag bordered by the current band, while the band alumni formed the letters USA to every side of the stadium. The show ended with the performance of a quadruple Script Ohio. This show also received national acclaim, particularly for its proximity to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Relationship with other marching arts[edit]

The band, due to its unique instrumentation, is sometimes compared to a drum and bugle corps. The composition of a drum corps consists of brass instruments, marching percussion, front ensemble, color guard, and a drum major. Drum corps are also independent, non-profit organizations. Many have affiliation with VFW or American Legion posts, or Boy Scout troops. The Marching Band is solely affiliated with The Ohio State University. The band also does not have a color guard, permanent front ensemble, or a drum major in the drum corps' definition. A drum corps drum major solely conducts the corps during the performances, whereas the OSU drum major does not conduct the band at all. The Marching Band also does not qualify as a drum corps in the current definition because of the instrumentation. A drum corps is only allowed to have bell forward, valved brass. While the high and mid voices fit the definition, the low brass section does not. Trombones, upright baritones, and Sousaphones are not drum corps legal instruments.

The Marching Band however, is similar in style and substance to classic drum and bugle corps, such as those found prior to the creation of Drum Corps International. Most corps, for example, carried their marching percussion using slings and straps, similar to how the Marching Band still does. Many classic drum corps also performed horn flashes or swings, body moves, and performed recognizable music loosely themed in a general show idea. These ideas were developed in conjunction with the evolution of high school and college bands, such as OSU. In the 1970s and 1980s, the modern style of drum corps began to take shape. This was considered highly popular by many bands, and many schools transitioned to a corps style with roll step, asymmetrical drill, larger front ensembles, modernized uniforms, and more advanced show themes. With the transition to this new style, many schools resisted, and some (particularly HBCU bands) used military band fundamentals as the basis for a new band style, often called show or swing bands. Some college bands utilizing this style include Ohio University, Florida A&M, and Morehouse. These bands often feature dancing, high step marching, traditional style drum majors, horn movements, and typically perform popular and easily recognizable music. In the college setting, few bands retained a highly traditional style. Other bands that have remained with a traditional style include Virginia Tech's Highty Tighties, the Aggie Band from Texas A&M, and the Cal Band. The Highty Tighties and Aggie Band also require all students to be in ROTC as well.

The Marching Band has remained faithful to its roots in military history, while also pushing the envelope for new marching innovations. The percussion section is a prime example of this evolution. The percussion section of the Marching Band first added tenor duo toms in 1970. Around this time, drum corps began experimenting with marching timpani as well as duo and tri toms. The band transitioned to tri-toms in the 1980s. Drum corps continued to expand their percussion section with quad toms, adding additional spot drums to create quints or sextets, along with increasing bass drum lines with multiple sizes to allow for tonal passages to be played. In the 1990s, the Marching Band changed to quad-toms, but continued to use two-pitch bass drums. In 2005, the Band made the transition to a full tonal bass drum line, and added two additional spot drums to the quads by 2008. This gives the Marching Band a percussion section on par with many drum and bugle corps. From a marching perspective, the Ramp Entrance, at 180 beats per minute, was considered to be the fastest tempo performed by a marching ensemble until the late 1980s/early 1990s, when Star of Indiana Drum and Bugle Corps broke the 200 bpm threshold. The Marching Band is also larger than any drum corps, as the maximum performers in a DCI corps is 150.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Former director Jon Woods claims, "Supposedly at a pep rally one year, Woody Hayes stood up after the band played a song and said, 'That's the best damn band in the land!' That's all it took. When Woody says something, it's law."
    Miller, Rusty (2006-11-15). "From O-H-I-O to TBDBITL with the OSMB". Associated Press. 
  2. ^ http://osumarchingband.com/osumb/history/
  3. ^ "History of The Ohio State Marching Band". The Ohio State University Marching Band. 2006-10-25. Retrieved 2006-10-26. 
  4. ^ "Songs of The Ohio State University". scarletandgray.info. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  5. ^ "Investigation Report - Complaint against Jonathan Waters, Director of the OSU Marching Band". The Ohio State University Office of University Compliance. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Ohio State fires band director Jonathan Waters over ‘sexualized’ culture". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  7. ^ http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2012/11/20/ohio-state-university-oldest-marching-band-member.html
  8. ^ "Script Ohio Controversy". OSU v Michigan. Ohio State University Archives. 2002-10-12. Retrieved 2006-10-26. 
  9. ^ Michigan Marching Band director Jamie Nix said, "Yes, that's true [that Michigan formed OHIO with its marching band], but certainly not in the complex form it takes on now with the OSU band."
    Miller, Rusty (2006-11-15). "From O-H-I-O to TBDBITL with the OSMB". Associated Press. 
  10. ^ OSU Marching Band website, Eugene Weigel biography
  11. ^ "The "i"-Dot Tradition". The Ohio State University Marching and Athletic Bands. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  12. ^ Script Ohio, Evolution. Kappa Kappa Psi, Eta Chapter. 2004
  13. ^ Ohio State Marching Band Traditions, OhioStateBuckeyes.com
  14. ^ "At least Ohio State's tuba player went out with a bang". Rivals.com and Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  15. ^ "Ohio Dept. Of Education Press Release". Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Columbus Dispatch Article on Script Braille Ohio with Pictures and Video". 
  17. ^ Castel, Brandon. "Retiring Band Director Jon Woods to dot the "i" at Halftime". TheOZone.net. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 
  18. ^ Script Ohio - Tradition of Excellence, Kappa Kappa Psi, 2013, pages 58, 66, and 67
  19. ^ "Flying Cross Uniforms". Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  20. ^ "OSU Marching Band Heading for Washington DC" (Press release). The Ohio State University. 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  21. ^ "Moment of Zen, November 2, 2006". The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Lesmerises, Doug (2012-10-09). "How the Ohio State marching band pulled together the video-game halftime show everyone is talking about". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  23. ^ Silver, Curtis (2012-10-09). "Ohio State University Marching Band (TBDBITL) Goes Retro Arcade". Wired. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  24. ^ Benedetti, Winda (2012-10-09). "From Tetris to Halo: Marching band's game tribute goes viral". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  25. ^ Netburn, Deborah (2012-10-13). "Marching band showdown: 'Gangnam Style' vs. video game tribute". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  26. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VztAMzzjH0I
  27. ^ Tzagournis, Elizabeth. "Ohio State Marching Band attracts attention of ‘TODAY,’ Michael Jackson’s mom". The Lantern. Retrieved 9 Nov 2013. 
  28. ^ "Ohio State Crowd Quiets Down As Marching Band Forms Pentagram". The Onion. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 

External links[edit]