Tag Archives: band

TMB Band Name: Venti Four Logo

While interviewing my informant, Peter, I decided to document his Band Name. He got his Band Name from the upperclassmen of his section in the Trojan Marching Band (TMB). Peter is a member of the Mellophone section. I asked him to perform his band name to me as if he were asked to “introduce himself” by another member of the band:


“Once upon a time my name is Venti Four Logo.

Someone then asks me ‘why?…’

Because I’m a Marshal Snake.”


My informant would usually perform this Band Name/Joke ritual in a social setting with other members of the TMB. Sometimes he is asked by alumni of the band who are interested in hearing the new Band Names their section has come up with. Members of the band also frequently ask each other because they are often humorous or come with humorous jokes attached. It is also used to test the band Freshmen to see if their jokes are up to par with the standard set by current band members.


According to my informant, everyone in the band has a Band Name that they have been dubbed by their older section members. The Band Names are different in each section. Some sections give their members short names that function as traditional nicknames (example: “Egg”). My informant was mostly able to give me knowledge of how the Mellophone section names its members.


My informant’s section gave him a long, complicated name because they have to figure out how it applies to them/ what the other section members know about them. My informant is dubbed ‘Venti Four Logo’ because of a few reasons: 1. He’s tall, hence the ‘Venti’ part. 2. He has a history of getting coffee at Starbucks, hence the ‘Venti’ part. 3. He’s obsessed with Apple, hence the ‘Logo’ part. He does not yet know how the ‘Four’ part fits into his name, although he recognizes that “Four Logo” is a play on the drink “Four Loko.”



I have seen my informant introduce himself on many occasions with a few different Name Jokes. The particular joke he gave me is a little tame compared to the usual raunchy, outrageous jokes the section normally uses. I personally enjoy this social band tradition. Everyone has a name, so it’s fun to get to know all the members of the band just to hear them. The tradition of Band Names also further unties the band as one entity.


Band laps

“You take a lap. You have to, like, run around the entire band and if, like, Bartner, or something happens that is about you, related to your name, where you’re from any like quirky traits you have, activities you do. [The purpose:] to point out that you have associations with that.”


The informant is a member of the University of Southern California Spirit of Troy. She is a sophomore, both in the school and in the band ranks, studying Computer Science and Computer Engineering. She plays alto saxophone and has travelled with the band to the Weekender and to Notre Dame.


Th informant was asked of any band traditions that take place during a practice. She had first learned and experienced this tradition at her first full band practice, and has participated in it ever since.


The first thing to know about the marching band is that usually a week or two after joining the band, every one is given a band name, often referred to as their “real name.” For some people, that becomes the name they are known by for the rest of their time in band. The are often only a few words long, but some have been as long as the verse of song. They are often based on traits that the person has or something that they did, and they often tie back to some kind of popular culture, like a movie or book. Some people are even given two names, in which case they are “so-and-so” AKA “something-else.” There are a lot of traditions that are attached to these band names, including taking a band lap.

Practices can be long and kind of boring, at least for rowdy college students, so there are many band traditions that are meant to pass the time and release restless energy in order to get more work done during practice. The band is a group of volunteers, so it is important to keep people entertained enough to keep coming back. One custom, meant to entertain, is taking a band lap. Everyone must constantly be on the look out for an excuse to take a lap, or to make someone else take a lap. The most common reasons to do so are if leadership says something related to someone’s band name, saying the city or state where someone is from, or some clearly identifying feature or characteristic of the person, like “chorus” (in reference to the location of the song, but pertaining to choral people) or “sexy” (anyone who thinks they’re sexy takes a lap). There was one time, the informant shared, where the band was playing “Play That Funky Music” and the director starting singing the main line: “Play that funky music, white boy…” and all of the white males in the band had to take a lap. That kept the band pacified and laughing enough to finish playing the song without outbursts.

Another purpose for taking a lap is to condition the band. A lot of stamina is required to survive a game day, where a band member may be on their feet for up to 12 hours at a time with little to no sitting down. Taking laps periodically during practice keeps band members in shape and more able to stand for such an extended period of time. Also, as the informant mentions, laps just point out that you have an association to that trait or name. It is possible to see who else in the band is Irish by seeing who takes and Irish lap (in the case of “Beat the irish” for notre dame [opposing teams and their mascots do not earn the respect of having capital letters]) with you. It is a way to bring people, who might never have met in the more than three-hundred person band, closer together and encourages connections with other sections.

There are also particular ways to take a lap. Under normal circumstances—mostly during music practice but under other instances, as well—the person whose name, characteristic, or home state was mentioned takes a lap around the entire band, including directors, silks, and all of the instruments, but not including twirlers or prop crew (if they are far away). This is always done in a counter-clockwise rotation. If the band is working on drill for a show, or during a gig when it would not be prudent to run around to the confusion of the audience, then a lap is taken in place, still counter-clockwise. If the band is at attention, then no laps are taken until after the band is put at ease. Then people can do make-up laps for the time when they were at attention. If a band member is sitting down or it is physically impossible to take a lap, but the band is not at attention, the they will do a “finger lap” and point their right index finger to the sky and move their hand in a counter-clockwise direction. There are also more local instances for taking a lap. The informant had a section leader, for example, who would encourage “Galen Center laps” during basketball and volleyball games. The band member would then have to run around the inside of the Galen Center. This is not a band-wide occurrence, just a section-wide one. Other sections have their own special lap circumstances. The flutes, for example, take laps whenever the first letter of their name is called. Since the marching band divides its music into sections with “A,B,C, etc.” letters get mentioned a lot.

No Eye Deer

“What do you call a deer with no eyes?

No eye-deer [spoken like “idea” with a drawling a that ends in an r].”


The informant learned this and other jokes (most of them he claimed to be especially bad, and possibly prized for their cringe-worthiness), during band camp when he was an undergraduate, (he was introduced to many of them in his freshman year. The informant said that telling jokes is part of the ritual of band camp, partly to foster camaraderie and boost morale, and partially to evade boredom on buss trips. He said you had to tell jokes because “you can only drink so much on a bus trip.”

This particular joke holds no specific significance for the informant, but is representative of the types of jokes he remembers.

This joke, and the group of jokes of a similar type that it comes from, seems to have a universal hold on different age groups. It’s extremely similar to the types of jokes that might be told at a camp for youths. Word play is as understandable to adults as it is to children, and the frequency of the retelling of these kinds of jokes suggests that English speakers (and perhaps speakers of other languages as well) find humor in the manipulation of speech, which is such an ordinary part of life. This works with surprise to create humor.

Three Dog Night

Transcribed Text:

“A three dog night, which as far as I can tell, means like, harsh, like probably cold night. Comes from dog sledders, when they were traversing the wilderness. A three dog night would be a night where you would have to like cuddle up with three of your dogs to be able to stay warm for the night.”

The informant is a student at the University of Southern California and he does not recall where he first heard this piece of folklore. It is a saying that is normally only used in extremely cold weathered countries where sled dogs and freezing temperatures are the norm. It has a literal meaning behind it, where in these extremely cold areas, people would huddle and sleep with their dogs in order to stay warm for the night. A three dog night is an especially freezing night, because a person doesn’t need one, or two of their dogs to stay warm, but needs three.

It is said that the band Three Dog Night is named after this saying, where one of the vocalist’s girlfriend heard the phrase being used in a documentary about Australian Aborigines. However, there has also been debate about the saying originating with the Inuits. This search unable to trace back to a single point indicates how the original source was lost and this saying has now become like many other pieces of folklore; with no one author.

Annotation: The Australian band Three Dog Night formed because the vocalists girlfriend heard this piece of folklore about indigenous Australians.