Because Sound! Euphonium is an anime centered around concert band music, many terms the characters use in their everyday conversations may not be accessible to viewers who have not participated in a concert band before. This page lists in alphabetical order many of the words commonly found in the band jargon, specifically defining those terms which appear in the anime.
8 to 5 Step
The standard marching band step size is 8 evenly paced steps in 5 meters, which is 62.5 centimeters in per step (meters in Japan and internationally, yards in the UK and the US). In short, this is called "8 to 5 step." The Kitauji marching band practices this step size in preparation for their marching performance at SunFes. Other step sizes include 6 to 5 (larger strides) and 12 to 5 (tiny steps).
When a band member marches in 8 to 5 step, it is referred to in the jargon as "marching 8 to 5." For example, Sapphire Kawashima has trouble marching 6 to 5 in Episode 5 because she is too short for steps that big.
The All-Japan Band Competition is a large wind band competition in Japan, organized by the All-Japan Band Association and the Asahi Shimbun. The competition is divided into four groups: junior high school, high school, college, and adult. Each symphonic band plays 2 pieces, a required piece, and a free-choice piece. There are three types of awards given: Gold, Silver, Bronze. Based on the sheer number of musicians participating, the All-Japan Band competition is the largest music competition in the world.
Band camp refers to a period of somewhere between 1-3 weeks where a concert band or marching band holds intense daily rehearsals, typically 6-8 hours long. Sometimes band camp will last only 3 or 4 days with long hours of highly efficient rehearsal-- which is what the Kitauji Concert Band does.
The purpose of this is to facilitate group bonding and provide an concentrated environment for musical improvement that is not possible during the school year. In American schools, band camp typically takes place during the 3-4 weeks of the summer right before school starts. In Japan, band camp is usually during the summer break between the first and second trimesters of the school year.
Some band camps simply take place at school, and students commute to and from camp every day. Other camps are overnight camps, where band students sleep in cabins. These camps typically have more bonding time built in, and are more immersive. Regardless of location, most band camps include fun activities built in such as pool parties, talent shows, prank wars, and daily games. In Japan, many band camps also include firework (sparkler) parties.
The battery is a commonly-used term that refers to the drumline, or the percussion section of a marching band. The percussion section of a concert band is not called a battery or drumline; these terms apply only to marching bands, or, in some cases, symphony orchestras.
Many people wrongly assume that the saxophone is also a brass instrument because of its color, but the saxophone's use of a single reed mouthpiece makes it a woodwind instrument.
In a concert band or symphony orchestra, the de facto leader of all the brass is the principal trumpet, while the de facto leader of all the woodwinds is the principal clarinet (concert band) or principal oboe (orchestra).
Colorguard, or simply guard, is the section of the marching band that tosses, spins, and twirls objects in sync with the band's music. The most common objects used by colorguard are flags and rifles, although guard can also use sabers (swords), pom-poms, ribbons, batons, and rubber balls. Members who play instruments in a concert band setting that cannot be used for marching (such as contrabass, like Sapphire Kawashima, or oboe, like Mizore Yoroizuka) will join colorguard in marching band. The Kitauji colorguard uses pom-poms and flags in their parade at SunFes.
The conductor leads the musical direction of the ensemble. Contrary to what most people believe, the conductor's primary purpose is not to maintain tempo (tempo is the responsibility of each individual member). Rather, the conductor's main purpose is to unify the ensemble both as students and as musicians, and also to teach his own musical interpretations to the ensemble, using verbal and body language to communicate musical expression to influence each player's style.
The conductor's job is also to execute clear meter-- which is less important for simple meters like 4/4 or 3/4 time, but very important for music that uses unusual meter like 7/4 or 5/8 time. For example, in Episode 13 at the final performance, Noboru Taki chooses to conduct 6/4 time in a distinctive 3+3+2+2+2 way that helps dictate how the band should be phrasing their music.
The drum major is the student leader of the marching band, and sets the tempo and keeps time, either by using a specific form of conducting designed for marching bands, or by using a large baton and whistle in parades. Sometimes it is a combination of the three. "Drum Major" is a title, and written in lowercase when referring to it, unless used to describe a person; e.g. "Drum Major Tanaka Asuka."
The drumline is a commonly-used term that refers to the battery, or the percussion section of a marching band. The percussion section of a concert band is not called a battery or drumline; these terms apply only to marching bands, or, in some cases, symphony orchestras.
Embouchure (pronounced ON-buh-sure) is the use of facial muscles and the shaping of the lips to the mouthpiece of woodwind instruments or the mouthpiece of the brass instruments. Each instrument has a unique embouchure that takes time and practice to learn. While woodwind embouchures are more varied, brass embouchures are quite similar across the board, and so a horn player like Shuuichi Tsukamoto could easily switch to trombone if so desired. A well-developed embouchure helps a player develop good sound quality; a poorly developed embouchure leads to poor sound quality. Hazuki Katou, a beginner, has yet to develop a proper tuba embouchure, and so is still struggling with basic tone production.
In conducting, the ictus is a quick flicking motion of the conductor's fingers, wrists, or baton that signifies the exact moment the beat falls in his stroke. It is very easy to follow the tempo of a conductor who has developed a clear ictus. In Hibike! Euphonium, some of the students initially complained that Taki-sensei's ictus was unclear and difficult to follow because of his refusal to use a baton.
In music, the act of phrasing is to express the shaping of notes in time. Phrasing involves determining which notes to group together as one unit (a "phrase") and when to crescendo or diminuendo between phrases or throughout phrases. In Episode 7, Taki-sensei criticizes the saxophone section's poor choice of phrasing in the lyrical woodwind section of Crescent Moon Dance.
Earlier, during the second audition between Reina Kousaka and Kaori Nakaseko, one of the major differences between their performances lay in their choice of phrasing. Reina outperformed Kaori largely because she was able to create longer phrases due to her stronger air support, and had put more thought and intent into her choice of phrasing.
Piece vs. Song
Classical musicians and concert band members are very adamant about maintaining the differentiation between a song and a piece. A "song" refers to shorter and less serious music, typically with singers. Both folk and popular music would be considered songs. A "piece" is a more serious composition that has more complex phrasing, and typically does not have a human voice as the main focus. Both Crescent Moon Dance and March "Wind of Provence" are pieces, not songs, and many band members can become very upset when outsiders casually refer to them as "songs."
A principal player, sometimes called the "first chair," is typically the most skilled player in each instrumental section. This player typically is charged with playing any solos written in the music, and if the conductor sees it fit to reduce the amount of players playing a part, the principal player will typically be the "last one standing."
A principal player is not necessarily a section leader; for example, Takuya Gotou plays principal tuba, but Asuka Tanaka is the section leader of the bass section. A list of principal players in the Kitauji Concert Band can be found here.
To say that a list of musicians and/or instruments is in "score order" means that it is listed in the same order that the various instruments are lined up in a conductor's score. When listing musicians or sections in a concert band or orchestra, it is customary to do so by score order (rather than alphabetical or numerical). The score order for concert band is as follows (A * indicates this instrument may not always be used):
- E-flat Clarinet*
- B♭ Clarinet
- Alto Clarinet*
- Bass Clarinet
- Soprano Saxophone*
- Alto Saxophone
- Tenor Saxophone
- Baritone Saxophone
- Horn in F
- Double Bass
In full orchestral score order, these instruments would then be followed by harp, piano, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. If a full choir is present, the string instruments would be preceded by the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass singers.
The section leader is the decision-maker and usually the best player in his/her instrumental section, though that is not always the case. Sometimes, small sections are combined into one section, such as the Kitauji Concert Band's bass section—comprised of tubas, euphoniums, and contrabass—of which Asuka Tanaka is the section leader. Depending on the culture of each ensemble, the section leader is chosen either by audition or by popular vote for seniority or playing ability. A list of section leaders in the Kitauji Concert Band can be found here.
It should be noted that a principal player does not necessarily equal a section leader, and vice versa.
The term "sectionals" is used when the band breaks off into its individual "sections" (usually divided by the instrument you play) in order to practice as a group. During this time, the section leader usually helps the section members work on what they need help with the most. With all of the sections working on their own individual parts of the music, when the band meets for rehearsal next time, all of the smaller "pieces" fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
A tuner is a device used for measuring pitch, typically to the standard pitch of A440 (a stand A pitch), though there is a recent trend of many bands increasingly tuning sharper to A441, A442, or even A443. The Kitauji concert band tunes to A442. Degrees of pitch are measured in "cents."
Most tuners have a little needle that hovers in the center when the player is in tune, falls left when they are flat, and falls right when they are sharp. Hazuki asks what a tuner is during her first encounter with the brass band, and in the final episode, the clarinets nervously tune to a tuner in the warm-up room.
Tutti is a command seen in sheet music for ensembles, meaning "together." It is a heads-up for musicians that they are about to play in unison. The opposite of tutti would be "solo," meaning that the musician who has that part will be playing by themselves; "soli," meaning that the musicians whom play the same instrument with that command will play by themselves as a section; or "divisi," usually seen in parts meant to be played by more than one person per stand, and meaning that two or more musicians will split up instead of playing in unison.
Tutti is also the title of Hibike! Euphonium's closing song.
Short for the woodwind family, woodwinds consist of the following sections: piccolo/flute, clarinet, saxophone, and double reeds. The specific instruments include the piccolo, flute, oboe, bassoon, E-flat Clarinet, B♭ clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, and baritone saxophone. Less frequently seen in concert bands but still very commonly used woodwind instruments include the alto flute, clarinet in A, alto clarinet, soprano saxophone, contra-alto clarinet, contrabass clarinet, English horn, and contrabassoon. The woodwind section is much more diverse than the brass section because they are responsible for the most of the variations in color in the band, and hence would require a greater variety of timbres.
In a concert band, the de facto leader of all the woodwinds is the principal clarinet, who may also be called the concertmaster or concertmistress. In an orchestra, the de facto woodwind authority is the principal oboe. The de facto leader of all the brass is the principal trumpet, in both band and orchestra.