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band, in music, a group of musicians playing principally on wind and percussion instruments, usually outdoors. Prior to the 18th cent., the term band was frequently applied in a generic sense to cover the combinations of instruments employed by kings and nobles. The term is also used for an ensemble of any one type of instrument, as brass band, wind band, marimba band. As town bands once provided music for social dancing, so do modern jazz and rock bands of numerous descriptions (see jazz, rock music).

Modern bands usually include the piccolo, flute, clarinet, oboe, English horn, bassoon, saxophone, cornet, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, flügelhorn, euphonium, and various percussion instruments. Concert bands may add the cello, bass viol, and harp. The band repertory has traditionally included flourishes, marches, and music transcribed from other mediums.

Early Bands

Groupings of loud instruments characterized Saracen military bands participating in the Crusades. About 1300, similar groups, often including the shawm (a type of oboe), trumpet, and drum, appeared in the courts and towns of Europe. Town bands were manned by members of the watch and were integral to both the civic and social life of the community. These musicians participated in processions, dances, weddings, and feasts and provided incidental music for dramatic representations. During the 16th cent. the practice of playing instruments of the same family in consort (as in a shawm band) became popular, and new families of wind instruments added variety.

Evolution of Military and Concert Bands

As the town band began to decline at the end of the 17th cent., its official duties gradually shifted to the military band. A vestige of the extravagant, almost ritualistic affectations of the instrumentalists has survived in the routines of present-day drum majors and majorettes. For several centuries the general composition of the military band remained static, the fife and drum being associated with the infantry and the trumpet and kettledrum with the cavalry. France introduced the oboe in the latter half of the 17th cent., and a gradual merger with the full wind contingent of the town band ensued.

Important developments in instrument-making affected the composition of bands in the 19th cent. A Prussian bandmaster, Wilhelm Wieprecht (1802–72), introduced (c.1830) valve trumpets and horns into the military band. The saxhorns and saxophones of Adolphe Sax were incorporated into French military bands at midcentury. The sarrusophone was added in the 1860s, thus completing the instrumental ensemble that in most respects is known today.

Two outstanding European bands are the British Royal Artillery Band (founded 1762) and the band of the French Garde Républicaine, playing under that name since 1872. The U.S. Marine Band, founded in 1798, was the first important band in the United States and remains outstanding. The first U.S. band devoted exclusively to the presentation of public concerts was that of P. S. Gilmore, founded in 1859. His successor as America's leading bandmaster was John Philip Sousa (1854–1932). In 1911, Edwin Franko Goldman organized the Goldman Band, which continues to give outdoor concerts in New York City in the summer.


See R. F. Goldman, The Band's Music (1938) and The Concert Band (1946).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


1. See waveband.
2. See band spectrum.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006


A flat horizontal fascia, or a continuous member or series of moldings projecting slightly from the wall plane, encircling a building or along a wall, that makes a division in the wall.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


a small group with a simple social structure. This form of social organization is regarded by US evolutionary anthropologists as existing prior to the TRIBE, CHIEFDOM or the STATE, and is usually associated with hunting and gathering societies. For definitional purposes it is regarded as having no differentiated political institutions and no complex social institutions.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(in Russian, bandazh), in engineering, a steel ring or hoop slipped on parts of machines or construction units to increase their durability or reduce wear. For example, in turbine construction, bands tie together the ends of the blades or support the middle part of long blades. The band of electrical machines (motors, generators) is a ring of steel wire wound very tightly onto the drum of the armature that keeps the coiling from falling out of the grooves. The band in pipelines is a ring slipped while hot onto a steel pipeline.

A rolled band (tire) for wheels is a steel ring of shaped profile, made by rolling and slipped while hot onto the wheel of a railroad car, locomotive, streetcar, or other piece of equipment. Bands are made from carbon construction steel.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a band?

Dreaming of participating in a band indicates a committed team player. A band can be a complex dream symbol, depending upon the dreamer’s past associations.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(analytical chemistry)
The position and spread of a solute within a series of tubes in a liquid-liquid extraction procedure. Also known as zone.
(building construction)
Any horizontal flat member or molding or group of moldings projecting slightly from a wall plane and usually marking a division in the wall. Also known as band course; band molding.
A range of electromagnetic-wave frequencies between definite limits, such as that assigned to a particular type of radio service.
(computer science)
A set of circular or cyclic recording tracks on a storage device such as a magnetic drum, disk, or tape loop.
(cell and molecular biology)
Any of the characteristic transverse stripes exhibited by polytene or metaphase chromosomes that are stained.
(design engineering)
A strip or cord crossing the back of a book to which the sections are sewn.
Any latitudinal strip, designated by accepted units of linear or angular measurement, which circumscribes the earth.
A thin layer or stratum of rock that is noticeable because its color is different from the colors of adjacent layers.
A metal sleeve joining together the barrel and stock of a gun.
(solid-state physics)
A restricted range in which the energies of electrons in solids lie, or from which they are excluded, as understood in quantum-mechanical terms. Also known as energy bands.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


band, 2
1. Any horizontal flat member or molding or group of moldings projecting slightly from a wall plane and usually marking a division in the wall. Also called band molding or band course.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Refers to a frequency band (i.e., a range of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation).
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


1. a group of musicians playing either brass and percussion instruments only (brass band) or brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments (concert band or military band)
2. a group of instrumentalists generally; orchestra
3. Canadian a formally recognized group of Indians on a reserve
4. Anthropol a division of a tribe; a family group or camp group


1. a driving belt in machinery
2. a range of values that are close or related in number, degree, or quality
3. short for energy band
4. Computing one or more tracks on a magnetic disk or drum
5. Anatomy any structure resembling a ribbon or cord that connects, encircles, or binds different parts
6. Architect a strip of flat panelling, such as a fascia or plinth, usually attached to a wall
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(1) The range of frequencies used for transmitting a signal. A band is identified by its lower and upper limits; for example, the 10 MHz band from 100 MHz to 110 MHz. See satellite frequency bands, optical bands and 5G frequency bands.

(2) A rectangular section of a page that is created and sent to the printer. See band printing.

(3) (fitness band) See fitness tracker.

(4) The printing element in a band printer. See band printer.
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