The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 21: Traditionals

The Michigan Marching Band has a storied history accompanied by songs so ingrained in our collective psyche that we dare not go one football game without playing them at least once.  Such songs, aptly named “Traditionals” because they are, well, traditional band tunes, feature some of the most iconic music ever to grace Planet Earth (The Victors), as well as a couple others (Varsity).  Below is a brief description for every traditional I can think of at the moment, complete with a 100% unbiased analysis that contains no opinion whatsoever.


We will, of course, start with The M Fanfare.


The M Fanfare.  Pregame always begins with this amazing composition.  Drawn out in dramatic slowness compared to The Victors, the M Fanfare ushers forth a resounding burst of maize and blue from the hearts of all who behold it.  It also features the Drum Major’s iconic back bend during football pregame, and as such is accompanied by loud cheering.


The Victors (As Written).  The glorious march by Louis Elbel is a glorious rendition of everything glorious about the University of Michigan, particularly the glorious victories of Michigan Football.  It begins, as all marches should, with a trumpet fanfare and cymbal crashes, then moves through spacetime in thrilling waves comparable to the adrenaline rush one gets when thinking about Michigan’s countless triumphs over TTDS.  Loud, proud, and a definite workout, the unabridged version of The Victors inspires awe in audiences and the buildup of lactic acid in band geeks’ muscles.  Of course, every single note is a gift from God, and together they produce what can only be likened to the music of angels.


The Victors (Pregame).  The version of Elbel’s march played every pregame is not the same as As Written.  Rather, it is shortened, with some repeats taken out to give the band geeks some illusion of mercy after doing entries onto the field.  It is just as glorious as the above, of course, and is always greeted by resounding cheering from the hundred thousand or more Michigan fans soaking up every holy note.   The sound delay coming from the opposite end of the stadium isn’t so bad–as long as you don’t get distracted by it while playing.


The Victors (Trio.)  The chorus of The Victors, the trio is nearly always played at warp speed because its emergence is always preluded by a touchdown, field goal, and, at the end of the game, the W.  The trio is a pure lightning bolt of awesomeness, particularly when the victory is against TTDS for the first time in a decade.


Varsity.  The song played in pregame right after The Victors.  It primarily serves as a transition from the opposing team’s fight song to Let’s Go Blue in football pregame.


Let’s Go Blue.  Groovy, upbeat, and brimming with maize and blue, Let’s Go Blue is a short and wonderful tune that engages fans both during pregame and in the stands.  Broken into two parts based on the trumpet part, Let’s Go Blue can be played in even shorter segments between plays during games.


Temptation & War Chant.  I had to mention this here.  It’s just–it’s just so beautiful.  From the first note, it’s bound for greatness:  listening to it alone is incredible, but playing it transcends the mortal realm and temporarily elevates you to a deity so that you can finish the song without dying of exhaustion.  And good Lord, is it fun to play.


The Yellow and Blue.  Hearing the alma mater without the Trio and at least one set of entries immediately following it feels wrong after doing this after almost every game during marching season.  When you sway and lock arms while singing the lyrics, you must be prepared to play the Trio when you’re in band practice or postgame. If you listen to The Yellow and Blue in an isolated situation, your skin begins to itch with the desire to play the Trio, but alas, ’tis not meant to be.