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What's in a name

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
#1
I've noticed that many community bands are removing "community band" from their names. I suspect it's an attempt to indicate that they are better than your average community band. So Podunk Community Band becomes:

  • Podunk Concert Band
  • Podunk Concert Winds
  • Podunk Winds
Ad nauseum, you get the idea. Maybe naming a band Community Band will become a vintage thang?
 

tictactux

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#2
in my ears, the term "community band" rings the "sit in and play as you like, all members welcome, no commitment required" bell. Maybe many a band, in the process of "professionalising" a bit, wants to get rid of that image.

Then, you don't hear the term "community band" outside the USA very often, here it'd be "Podunk music association" or, per your observation, "Podunk wind band" or "Podunk concert band". Internationalization?

BTW just bought a polo shirt of "Bagad Kemper" the other day. It just means "Podunk Band". :)
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#4
There are a lot of airports where I live and have lived that call themselves "international." If I live 200 miles from Mexico and used to live about 20 miles from Canada, "international" doesn't mean that much :p.
 

SOTSDO

Old King Log
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#6
"Punching up" a group's name is nothing new - symphonic orchestras have been doing it at least since the early part of the Romantic Age. Before the listener hears the music, they hear of the group, and any "hook" that can grab attention is worth the minimal effort to attach it to the public face put on by the printed word.

Pop groups have to deal with this in spades. Ranging from my relatively tame effort for my main group (Sounds Of The South Dance Orchestra), on through some of the more extreme names used in the "cool young culture" world (see below), all seek to communicate without resulting to recordings or YouTube videos, since the main means of communication, even in this "connected" world we live in today is through the print medium.

With our name, I aimed for a generic sounding solution that described what type of music we play, as well as our general location in the physical world. I also aimed for a decent looking logo, one that was evocative of the tradition of performance music for entertainment and social purposes. I've gotten a few comments about same, but mostly it passes below the radar.

Modern groups (i.e., no more than five or six musicians accompanying a group of vocalists, with mostly "electric" music) aim even further with their naming conventions. Something like Lady Gaga or Madonna is pretty self explanatory, but Three Dog Night or Chicago are a bit more abstract. Just what does "Three Dog Night" denote to the reader? Maybe others know, but I haven't a clue.

Of late, "really modern" groups seem to aim for a usage that involves one or two terms that are often completely unrelated, and are deliberately aimed at shocking the reader, the better to attract attention. The more unrelated the two terms, and the more shocking the ultimate meaning, the harder that the name grabs the reader's focus, which in turn may lead to a decision to attend a performance.

Many years ago, I came up with what I think is the ultimate modern group name. Short, snappy, vulgar, and yet following the "unrelated terms" rule, it fits the "young modern" mould to a "T". Yet, I have yet to encounter any such group willing to embrace it (although my wife's grandson, who was the lead singer of a grunge type group named Spitjack (think about it) up in Burlington VT, has indicated that he has it under consideration for his projected new group out on the West Coast).

In the interests of delicacy, I have not included it here. If I knew the secret as to how to encode the text so as to change its color to white/blue background (so as to make it visible only through highlighting), I would have taken that route. But, I'm not that on top of browser technology any longer.

Should you deem yourself capable of being unshockable, feel free to email me to get the full value. I guarantee that your initial reaction will be one of "interest", even if that quickly turns to offence. I apologize in advance for any who may be so offended.

In any event, "What's in a name?" can span quite a spectrum, from the barest minimum ("Band" or "Philharmonic") through locale to various adjectives all the way down to the unspeakable. The ultimate goal remains to engage someone not familiar with the group, and to draw them in through the gate.
 

saxhound

Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
#7
IIRC, Three Dog Night refers to an old Eskimo tradition of sleeping with your sled dogs for warmth. A particularly cold night was referred to as a "Three Dog Night". Then again, my brain cells are going into hibernation at an alarming rate, so I could be mistaken. I could check Wikipedia, but I'd rather go take a nap before the gig tonight.
 
#8
For what it's worth, I play in a long-established "swing orchestra" (but the only strings are on the upright bass and inside the piano), and a "community symphonic band" that plays marches, broadway, and light classics. Neither name makes much sense to me, but that's no biggie because the leaders like the names.
 
#10
IIRC, Three Dog Night refers to an old Eskimo tradition of sleeping with your sled dogs for warmth. A particularly cold night was referred to as a "Three Dog Night". Then again, my brain cells are going into hibernation at an alarming rate, so I could be mistaken. I could check Wikipedia, but I'd rather go take a nap before the gig tonight.
'Steely Dan' is a sex toy.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#11
I once played in a group called Kaleidoscope. The members kept changing from one gig to the next.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#14
The Kaleidoscope story is true. Did you hear the one about the band that was so bad, they had to change their name every week to get work? I played in a few of those kind too.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
#15
... Did you hear the one about the band that was so bad, they had to change their name every week to get work?...
Badumbump....

You really need your own drummer. :emoji_smile:

I gotta' admit, I've never worked in anything that band. I played a few shows that might have been a bit shaky, but the band didn't have to go into witness protection afterwards or anything like that. ;)
 
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