College Band History
College marching bands have long been admired for their ability to add to the pagentry and tradition of the American college football experience. Beginning each fall, a 12 game college football schedule is played out. Each season is concluded with the crowning of a National Champion. The games are played in massive stadiums throughout the country. The University of Michigan Wolverines and The Ohio State University Buckeye's rountinely play their home games in front of more than 100,000 plus fans on any given Saturday. And where there are football games being played there is the college marching band.
The American college marching band can trace is roots back to traditional military bands. As musicians became less important in directing the movement of troops on the battlefield, bands moved into increasingly ceremonial roles. Soon colleges across the country, led by student-run organizations, began to put together ceremonial musical bands as a way to rally student pride for various campus activities. It was in 1875 that the first recognized game of football was played between Harvard and Tufts Unversity in the US. But it was not until 1907, some 32 years later, that the first modern half-time show featuring a marching band took the field, that band was the University of Illinois Fighting Illini. Since that time, college marching bands have been synonymous with college football in America.
College marghing bands are generally known as "show bands" and incorporate field shows before each game, during half-time breaks and, on occasion, even after a game has been played. Show bands march to create designs, curves and moving illustrations as the music progresses. Elements of showmanship, marching styles and uniforms make each marching band more unique than the other.
Did you know?
- America's oldest college band, Notre Dame's Band of the Fighting Irish, was formed in 1845 and has preformed for every Fighting Irish football season since 1887.
- University of Southern California's Trojan Band always perform while wearing sunglasses and are also referred to as "Hollywood's Band" for all of the movie and television credits they have accumulated over the years.
- The University of Texas' Longhorn Marching Band performs with the world's largest bass drum named "Big Bertha."
- The Ohio State University Buckeye Marching Band is legendary for performing college football's most celebrated pre-game show forming the word "Ohio" in script while a pre-selected sousaphone musician dots the "i" to the delight of over 100,000 roaring fans.
- The University of Michigan marching band is generally considered to have the nation's most famous fight song, "The Victor's" written in 1898.
- Texas A&M Fightin' Texas Aggie Band is notorious for their precision military marching style and the fact that they are the largest marching band in the country with over 300 musicians.
- In the deep south, Louisiana State University's All American Golden Band from Tigerland is popular for their great music selections, a very beautiful dance troop called the "Golden Girls" and that fact that Louisiana's populist Governor of the 1930's hand picked the band director, co-authored fight songs and mandated they ditch their old military style attire for new showy uniforms.
- The highly unusual Rice University Marching Owl Band (aka The MOB) is known as a "scatter band", they have no marching formation whatsoever and have been known to include highly unusual instruments like cellos and electric piano's in their on-field show.
- A real Battle of the Bands takes place each year in New Orleans when the two historically black Louisiana colleges, Grambling University and Southern University , battle it out at half-time of the annual Bayou Classic football game. The battle is featured on national television.