Blog: “Pomp and Circumstance” and why every musician probably hates it

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The song “Pomp and Circumstance” should be familiar with anyone who has been involved with a graduation of some sort. Also known as the “Graduation March,” it is what plays as degree candidates enter and go to their seats during the commencement ceremony.

In the world of music, “Pomp and Circumstance” refers to a series of five military marches written by Sir Edward Elgar between 1901 and 1930. The tune we are most familiar with comes from a small segment which is known as sometimes called “Land of Hope and Glory,” in his first march in the series. It was first used as a commencement song at Yale University in 1905 and has been used in the United States as a commencement song since.

There is a very specific reason many music students dislike this song, it is very repetitive and in some places overly simple.

“We only hate it because we have to play it over and over and over [again],” said graduating senior music performance major Morgan Mason.

The duties of playing the songs go to either the NAU Wind Symphony or the NAU Symphony Orchestra, and occasionally smaller ensembles will perform it as well. For May 2013 ceremonies the saxophone ensemble will be performing during some of the ceremonies.

For many, graduation is a time of excitement as students complete a major chapter in their lives. But for the musicians performing the ceremony, some of them just wish it would end.

(What we know as the graduation march begins at 1:57)



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