Monday, June 10, 2013

The Mystique of the Mighty Sound of the Southeast

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The Mystique of the Mighty Sound of the Southeast

By Mei Wong
The Daily Magi
September 4, 2046


The University of South Carolina Marching Band — also called the "Mighty Sound of the Southeast" or more commonly known as the Carolina Band or the USC Marching Band, has entertained football fans at the University of South Carolina since 1921. This 325-member marching band performs at all South Carolina Gamecocks football games played at Williams-Brice Stadium and most football games outside of Columbia, South Carolina—including bowl games.

The University of South Carolina Marching Band entertains fans, serves the community in a variety of service and performance activities, and provides a musical education for thousands of Carolina students. The "Mighty Sound of the Southeast" is an integral part of a pre-game experience culminating in the playing of the "Dawn" section of Also sprach Zarathustra, the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as the Gamecocks run onto the field at the start of every game, which Sporting News once called "the most exciting pregame entry" in college football.

Traditions

Alma Mater
After any gathering of the Carolina Band, the University of South Carolina Alma Mater is sung in four-part harmony. Whether it's rehearsal, a football game, or any other band event, the Carolina Band never breaks without singing their Alma Mater.

Amazing Grace
After every football game, the Carolina Band plays an arrangement of Amazing Grace that features a member of the trumpet section as soloist, a tradition introduced by Dr. David O'Shields sometime around 2000. Many members of the crowd, including band alumni, refuse to leave Williams-Brice Stadium until Amazing Grace is played.

Boogaloo (What's That You Say?)
A collection of dances formerly done after every Carolina Victory. Many band alumni in the crowd would often join in with relish each time the Boogaloo was performed, and to many band members this tradition (which had been at Carolina since 1974, if not earlier) was the highlight of the day. Its performance was suspended in 2010 due to its crude and sometimes offensive lyrics. It was reinstated for post-game performance after a major revision but ultimately discontinued following the 2010 season.

Gameday Pep Rallies
On game day, the Carolina Band performs at numerous pep rallies on the way to the Williams-Brice Stadium. These include a rally at Gamecock Village, the Cockabooses behind the Stadium, and a special performance on certain days for the President's Pep Rally at the ETV Studios.

Pre-Game Show
The Copenhaver pre-game show traditionally began with a perimeter that was formed around the field; this then became a 100-yard long block that started off with the "Carolina Moon Fanfare." The band then began the Old USC Fight Song, followed by the popular Go Carolina while forming the "USC" formation on the field. Then a single high step began the Step to the Rear fight song, electrifying the crowd.

After flipping the "USC" formation to face the East stands, the band played "America the Beautiful" and ended in concert arcs to perform the National Anthem and the Alma Mater. This was followed by Gridiron Cocks Fanfare, and a lengthy drum cadence as they moved to spell "CAROLINA" across the filed. The band then repeated Go Carolina as they moved down the field, finally ending with another cadence while forming a tunnel through which the football players would enter the field.

The pregame entrance was changed in 2006 by Dr. George Brozak receiving criticism from some band alumni and students. The "run-on" to the field, say some, left band members breathless for much of pregame and unable to perform at a high level. Alumni also stated that the new beginning to pre-game lacked the energy and drive that the old pre-game had in abundance. With the arrival of Mr. Steve McKeithen, pregame was changed back to the traditional entrance Mr. James Copenhaver adopted shortly after becoming the Director of Bands in the early 1970s.

Under the direction of Dr. Rebecca Phillips and designed by Mr. Jayme Taylor, "The Mighty Sound of the Southeast" debuted a new pre-game show in the Fall of 2011, displaying a more traditional "high-step" marching style while maintaining traditions of the band from decades earlier. Band members enter the field from the North (student) end zone to the powerful Gridiron Cocks Fanfare and are led by two mace-carrying drum majors. This is followed by the Old USC Fight Song at the end of which the Band forms a large Palmetto Tree surrounded by gates, the official logo of the University of South Carolina System. Following the National Anthem and School Alma Mater, the band plays the Step to the Rear fight song while forming the giant "USC". A major change to this tune was created by adding the "CAROLINA" Spell-out between the two verses of the song during which the Band flips the formation to face the East stands. Following the fight song is a new tune called "The Garnet & Black March", based upon the USC Alma Mater. The band then plays Go Carolina while forming the giant "CAROLINA" on the field which then moves towards the South end zone. After a final fanfare the band moves into its tunnel formation to drum cadence to await the start of "2001" and the team's entrance.

Third Quarter
A newer tradition happens at the end of the third quarter, before the beginning of the fourth quarter of a home football game. "Thus Spake Zarathustra", more commonly referred to as the theme song from "2001: A Space Odyssey" is played again while fans hold up four fingers, alluding to the fourth and final quarter. (This is believed to have some relation to former professional wrestler Ric Flair, who was associated with the Four Horsemen. Flair has been a frequent attendee at home games, especially since the arrival of head coaches Lou Holtz and later Steve Spurrier).

Entering Stadium
Upon entering any stadium, the band members yell and hold their instruments in the air until they emerge outside onto the field.

Alumni Band
The alumni band performs during one of the half times every year and consists of a volunteer group of former members of the Carolina Band during the normal half time of the game.

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