Explore Our History

Tulane Stadium - Dec 4, 1948

The Tulane University Marching Band shares the heritage and lineage of America’s most cherished band traditions.  More than a century ago, marching bands and brass bands incorporated blues and ragtime, the intermingling of which became jazz.  The contemporary TUMB is a descendent of these progenitors, and carries the art form to new horizons as a catalyst for Green Wave spirit!

Tulane Band Directors:

1920 - 1936: Frederick Hard

1936 - 1938: Maynard J. Klein

1938 - 1968: John Morrissey

1968 - 1978: Ted DeMuth

1971 - 1978: Bruce Pollock

1978 - 2004: John Dikey

2004 - present: Barry Spanier

The First TUMB Bands

The Music Department as a whole got its start in 1909.  Music Department papers that list performances as early as 1919.  The earliest mention of a University Band is in the 1921 Jambalaya, which states that the Tulane University Band was organized during the 1919-1920 scholastic session by Marx A. Raymon and Harry Wallace.  Evidently they didn't perform much:  "The work of getting the men together, organizing and practicing took up most of the time and very little was heard from the band in public, as a band cannot be made in a day.

"At the beginning of the present session the foundation laid the year before showed good results and the Tulane Band played merrily at every football game under the management of Frank Broussard, holding its own at Baton Rouge against the famous band of the Tigers on Turkey Day.  Since that time it has livened up the basketball games and other student gatherings.

"Since the T.A.A., on account of the financial troubles, could not afford to send the band to Baton Rouge for the Thanksgiving Day game, a subscription was taken among the student body and funding was secured for the purpose."

The first Tulane band was formed in 1920 as a military band under the direction of Dr. Frederick Hard.  In the yearbook photo for 1920-21 the band is dressed in suits and ties.  In their 1923-24 yearbook photo the band is sporting a traditional Marching Band uniform with tall caps.  The text reads:

"With a half-dozen of last year's men as a nucleus, a musical unit was formed this year that was well suited to carry on the traditions of Tulane University.  The largest band in the history of the university; its uniformed musical organization; a band representing Tulane in the carnival parades for the first time; and being, in short, one of the most truly representative activities of the entire school...

"A trip to Montgomery, for the Tulane-Auburn football game, was made by the full Band as its first real activity.  Heretofore, at the close of the football season, the previous Bands have gone out of existence; but, consistent with its program of being a better Tulane Band, the musicians performed upon various occasions throughout the year.

"Under the able direction of Professor {Geo. A.} Paoletti, the Band has made wonderful strides along musical lines, and the untiring efforts of Albert E. Holleman, drum-major, and both Manager Robert G. Polack and his successor, Bennie Cohn, have assured its success."

In 1932 the Tulane Marching Band travelled to Los Angeles to march in the Pasadena Pageant of Roses parade and to support the Green Wave football team in the Rose Bowl football game vs. the USC Trojans.  Although dominating the game statistically, the Green Wave did not get the victory.  However, the experience at the Rose Bowl was a catalyst for the establishment of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

Maynard J. Klein, composer of the Tulane Fight Song, became the band director in 1936.


From The Times-Picayune  

A change of nickname had Tulane playing a different  tune
Tuesday, July 12, 2005 By Marty Mulé
Staff writer

It was an intriguing line: "The 'Great Rolling Green Wave' lived true  to its name when it washed over Mississippi A&M." It was from The Times-Picayune on Nov. 15, 1920, two days after Tulane claimed its fifth victory in seven games.  Just a few days before, "Green Wave" was not Tulane's nickname.    Nobody in the mainstream sporting public had even heard of it.

Almost 85 years later, the words "Tulane" and "Green Wave" are so linked they are almost interchangeable. Tulane fans owe a major debt of gratitude to former student E. Earl Sparling, at the time a student, part-time sportswriter -- and a pretty lame poet. But it was Sparling who started Tulane on its way to its enduring identification and away from its early, unofficial nicknames of "Olive and Blue" and "Tulanemen."  Change had been in the wind. In 1919, the Hullabaloo, the Tulane student newspaper, started referring to the dark-shirted Tulane team as the "Greenbacks." Eventually the moniker came into general usage and became the school's first formal athletic identification.

In the Oct. 29, 1920, issue of the school paper, however, as Tulane prepared for its first intersectional football game at the University of Michigan, Sparling wrote a convoluted poem entitled "The Rolling Green Wave," which was displayed at the top and in the center of the front page.   The fourth verse, in which the then-nicknames for Georgia Tech and Alabama are mentioned, seems to get to the heart of the matter:  Now Tech's got a Gold Tornado; Alabama a thin red line; But we've got a Rolling Green Breaker  That'll cover 'em every time.  In the same issue of the Hullabaloo, it was written that the "great green wave rolled toward Michigan." But after a long train ride to Ann Arbor, Tulane lost 21-0.

Two weeks later, as 4-1-1 Tulane prepared for unbeaten Mississippi A&M, a story with no byline appeared, saying that the LSU football team, returning to Louisiana by train after a game at Alabama and an upcoming Tulane opponent, would attend the A&M contest.  "When Tulane's 'Green Wave' goes into action against the Mississippi A&M machine," read the short article on Nov. 12, 1920, "it will be under the watchful eyes of the LSU team."  That was the first use of "Green Wave" in the mainstream press.  Two days later, in sports editor Bill Keefe's Times-Picayune account of Tulane's 6-0 victory, he said of Tulane holding A&M at the 10-yard line, "The Green Wave stopped (A&M) there." Fred Digby, the Item's sports editor and Sparling's boss, opened his Monday morning review of the game: "Tulane's Green Wave is still one of Dixie's undefeated elevens. . .  ."

Besides the loss to Michigan, Tulane lost to Detroit, but it didn't lose a game to a team from the South.  In less than a month the name was hatched and attached, although  "Greenbacks" was still used extensively, and even the "Olive and Blue" nickname was continued to a lesser extent.  What really welded "Green Wave" to Tulane, though, was a catchy fight song, written five years after Sparling came up with the name.  Tulane used several undistinguished fight songs, but the most popular by far was "The Washington & Lee Swing," which eventually embarrassed Tulane officials.  Gus Fritchie, a Washington & Lee alumnus from Slidell, was accepted to the Tulane law school and earned part of his tuition by working as a manager for the football team. Fritchie felt Tulane needed a real fight song and introduced "The Washington & Lee Swing" to the band, and it became extremely popular.  The problem arose when the song began being referred to as "The Tulane Swing." Radio station WSMB was New Orleans' first with a long-range signal, and one spring night in 1925, an announcer named Randall played the song. "We will now have the pleasure of listening to Tulane University's great football song, 'The Tulane Swing,' " Randall, obviously a big fan, said on the air. ". . . We want the people all over the Northland and up the Mississippi Valley to hear this famous 'Tulane Swing.' "  Several Washington & Lee alums heard the broadcast and a flap ensued, with Tulane accused of piracy. The episode was followed by a meeting of the Tulane Alumni Association, presided over by Randolf Foote,  in which it was agreed to purchase a song that would be uniquely Tulane's.

It was a dean with the highest academic credentials who gave the Green Wave its rollicking personal tune. Marten ten Hoor, a philosophy professor born in the Netherlands, was dean of Tulane's College of Arts and Sciences.  Ten Hoor and Walter Goldstein, an associate professor of music at Newcomb, Tulane's women's college, collaborated and came up with "The Olive and Blue March," for which the composers received $100.  Not only is the song rhythmic, light, and fun to sing, but it's interesting that in the lyrics ten Hoor and Goldstein included all of Tulane's nicknames: "Here's a song to the Olive and the Blue;" "Here's to the Greenbacks who never will say die;" and "Roll, Green Wave, roll them  down the field."  It's also registered on sheet music by two different titles: "The Olive and Blue March," and "Roll On, Tulane."  Even with that, the song is more commonly referred to by a third title:  "Roll, Green Wave." In any case, the song's refrain of "Roll, Green Wave, roll them down the field," ingrained that identification in the minds of the fans.  Tommy O'Boyle, an All-American lineman at Tulane in 1940 and the Wave head coach from 1962-65, loved the designation for his teams, eschewing even the popular secondary nickname "Greenies."  "I've always referred to it as Green Wave," O'Boyle said during his tenure at Tulane. "I like to think of it as something big and awesome --  fearful."

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