The Marching Band Dictionary



(I took this from a drummer in the IUP Marching Band, Kyle. Kyle has a cool homepage including a page on the IUP Marching Band. Click here to visit Kyle's homepage!)

AIR-BAND: A form of enforced hyper-ventilation (a violation of the 8th Amendmentís cruel & unusual punishment law). See also 
cheap high.
ALTO SAXOPHONE: A musical instrument that either plays very loud or not at all between squeaks.
ARC: A shape with between one and five corners and one open side.
ASSISTANT DRUM MAJOR: Takes over for drum major when not available. See drum major.
ATTENTION: Standing still while sticking out your bum. Can only talk in whispers so that no leaders hear you.
AUXILIARY: See color-guard.
BAND GEEK: Someone who is very enthusiastic and involved in band. Willing to give up all free time.
BAND JACKET: 1. Status symbol. 2. Proclamation of true geekdom. BAND PARTY: A gathering of Band Geeks where they can wear their Band Jackets.
BAND MASTER: The person who claims to be in charge when everything is going well and claims denial when things go wrong.
BARI-SAXOPHONE: An instrument for woodwind players who want to play like a tuba.
BARITONE: 1. A device for doubling with trombones except using the right notes. 2. A device for playing during silence.
BELL-DINGING: A physical symbol of a mistake made in the last drill move.
BELL-FRONT INSTRUMENT: Always brass. Directional instruments designed to play extremely loud. See Marching French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Sousaphone, Contra, Baritone.
BRAIN FART: A mistake involving an escape of gaseous substances from the head usually in conjunction with missing a set.
BRASS: Devices designed to over-blow and blast. See also trumpet, French horn, sousaphone, trombone, and/or baritone.
CADENCE: A way of making the crowd forget the parade march the band just played that impresses people. Good time for band section visuals.
CHEAP HIGH: A form of rhythmic hyper-ventilation done for fun. CIRCLE: A closed shape with definite corners and edges.
COLOUR-GUARD: People (usually/hopefully females) who swing flags and toss rifles to distract the audienceís attention away from the band. Makes the band seem better. Get extra credit if they hit (accidentally, of course) a band member, yet defied if they hit a field judge.
COMPANY FRONT: A zigzag line within a certain area of the field.
COMPETITION: 1. A general gathering of bands so everyone can prove that theyíre better than each other.
CONDUCTOR: The person in the front who waves his arms and dances wildly to the music. Constantly marks time during halts.
CONTRA: A tuba that is snapped onto and off of the playerís shoulder. Designed to build up arm muscles and decrease brain activity. A name that is sexier than "Sousaphone."
DCI: Drum corps championship series.
5 POUND NOTE: A device for cleaning saxophone pads.
DOOR: A spontaneously located area of the field where you go if not willing to participate.
DOT BOOK: A small notebook to be kept in pocket that has complex drawings and strange numbers that people say are their spots for each picture. Designed to keep people from learning music.
DR. BEAT: A form of cruel and unusual punishment (violation of the 8th Amendment) that is bestowed over a loudspeaker when working on already-learned music.
DRUM CORP.: Very similar to marching band, except for a few differences: 1)They are good. 2)No woodwinds.
DRUM-TAP: A snare beat loud enough for the judges to hear, and quiet enough so band doesnít hear.
DRUM-LINE: The people hitting the drums with sticks in time with each other, but either a half beat earlier or later than the band.
DRUM MAJOR: A person placed at the front of the band to fight off old ladies and small dogs by waving a heavy stick. See MACE.
DRUM: Round hollow devices with covering on the top and sometimes the bottom. Sometimes have some sort of attachment(s) on the bottom. Loud. You hit them, they make a noise. What's so clever about that?
DYNAMICS: Either loud or louder (volume).
FLUTE: An un-tuned device for people who want to be in the band who have weak arms and donít wish to be heard.
FOOD: "Fuel" for band geeks. Is an attacker of performance uniforms, but can still be eaten (in secrecy) in this state of being.
FOOTBALL TEAM: The main reason the band canít always use the marching field.
FORTE: The lowest dynamic marking a brass instrument can play at.
FRENCH HORN: Only brass instrument that is played with left hand. Involves strings in conjunction with valves and an impossibility to play fast or loud.
FUND-RAISERS: Opportunities provided throughout the year for the adult staff to yell at band members while making a few extra bucks on the side.
GEEKISM: Something that is related to marching band which spontaneously happens (such as walking with friends down the hall in step).
HALT: A time when everyone is theoretically stopped.
HARMONY: All voices except the melody and percussion.
HIGH-MARK-TIME: An action that only occurs when the marcher is standing on mud.
HORN-POP: A method to keep the pit from going completely deaf when brass instruments pass directly behind them by pointing bells toward the sky. Not recommended for flutes or clarinets.
INSTRUCTOR: Person who tells you when youíre screwing up.
INTERVAL: A space between two band members that is random.
IQ: A constant combined number that does not changes as the size of the band does.
MACE: A heavy stick with a shiny end designed to be dropped.
MARCHING FRENCH HORN: An instrument designed to be unable to tune.
MARK-TIME: A time when people only move their heels (without changing location) to some tempo, usually "to the beat of a different drum.
MELLOPHONE: A tunable version of a marching French horn (is there such a thing?) also used by drum corps. Based on a trumpet design.
MELODY: The loudest voice, usually carried by the trumpets or piccolos.
MEZZO-FORTE: The highest dynamic marking of any woodwind excluding the piccolo.
MEZZO-PIANO: 1. Trumpets play as loud as you can. 2. Rest of the band play moderately quiet.
MOUTHPIECE: A critical piece to a brass instrument which is meant to be dropped or thrown onto grass, loud stages, and/or sometimes mud. Droppage of this device often results in 'shups. Can be seen to leap from trumpets belonging to small people.
NOTES: 1. Little round dots on lines that show the approximate pitch that the instrument player tries to hit. 2. The language of music, similar to "BASIC," "Pascal," or "C" for computers.
OBOE: A double-reed instrument only used in time of desperate need and crisis.
PARADE-REST: A form of relaxation while standing up. Little talking, but some required to keep band geeks sane.
PERCUSSION: The group of instruments hit by sticks or mallets that keeps some beat or other.
PICCOLO: A high-pitched instrument similar to that of the flute, only you can actually hear that it's out of tune.
PIT: Percussion instruments that have pitches (like a piano) that play either half a beat earlier or later than the band, opposite of the drum line.
REED: A piece of wood that makes a great excuse for not playing well (particularly for brass instrument(s) if broken or brand new. Usage, "Sorry, new reed," or "I broke my reed."
RIFLE: A white-colored piece of wood used by the colour guard that is intended for injury of band or colour guard members and breakage of nails. See also color-guard.
ROLL-STEP: How you step if your shoes are round on the bottom. Not bouncing.
SFZ-PIANO-CRESCENDO: The act of blatting, stopping, then blasting.
SHOPPING TROLLEY: Unlike colour guards, these often have a mind of their own.
SHOW COORDINATOR: Person who creates and draws all of the inanimate useless objects that the band attempts to form.
'SHUPS: Frequently called "pushups," these you do when something goes wrong due to you. Usually done in increments or multiples of ten. Designed as a method of self-discipline.
SITTING-AROUND: An action carried out when sitting on busses on in stands, in which band members rely on perpetual motion to keep from sitting in the same place for more than 30 seconds.
SLOUCHING: An action best displayed by concert bands. Even if it's bad for playing, it's great for the back!
SNAP: Instantly changing a horn's position from attention to horns up, or vice-versa. Havoc for someone in front of a snapped instrument.
SOUSAPHONE: An instrument that adds bass to the band. Can play any note as long as it's a low G.
SPACE-CHORD: A chord where each member plays whatever note he feels like.
SPANDEX: God's gift to mankind. A privilege, not a right!
SQUEAK: The only sign that the woodwind reeds give that they are actually playing.
STANDING: What the brass-line does at band camp. Woodwinds do not accomplish this feat due to their weak legs (in most cases). There are a few exceptions to this weakness, but they don't stand anyway.
STICKS: Dropped by drummers on a parade for the band to follow back to the start/pub.
TEMPO: The correct beat, usually (but not always) carried by the conductor.
TENOR-SAXOPHONE: An instrument similar to the bari-saxophone, except it matches the pitch of a trombone or baritone.
TIME: A way to keep the band continuously out of step.
TRUMPET: An instrument that is designed to make a band sound better. The idea is that if the trumpets play loud enough, you can't hear the rest of the band, so only the trumpets' mistakes are heard, not everyone elseís.
TROMBONE: A device with the same pitch as a baritone, except that it uses a slide instead of valves, so it's easier to forget the position(s).
TUBA: A concert sousaphone (see sousaphone).
TUNE: What the condition when all instruments are within half a step of each other is called.
VALVE: A key object on most brass instruments that sticks only during important performances.
VALVE OIL: Exquisitely tasteful with a twist of lemon. A form of currency for brass players. Most important ingredient to a beverage known as "Valve Oil Daiquiri."
VISUAL: A way of keeping marching band members busy during a show. Extra credit received if used against an on-field judge.
WOODWINDS: 1. A true sign that God has a sense of humour. 2. A biological mistake.
XYLOPHONE: An instrument that is taken to parades but never marched.
Z-PULL: Drill manoeuvre performed by DCI corps to make the crowd stand up.

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