For many people outside the US, American Football is something of a mystery, though in recent years the often spectacular Superbowl Final halftime shows have received much attention. This year’s halftime show by Rihanna is a case in point. It made, and continues to make, newspaper headlines around the world and it has 92m Youtube views in two weeks
In the US, college football is an integral part of the football infrastructure. College football advertises the host University, nurtures the game, provides an arena for talent scouts, gives a dynamic focus to campus life, and it can be very lucrative. No wonder so much effort is put into the halftime entertainment for college football.
Wow! What a spectacle. Imagine the atmosphere in the stadium. Not only is there the full-throttle playing of the marching band, but, as the band plays themes from Hollywood blockbusters, the choreographed movements of the band members create animated images that reference the music sources which include Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. Viewers unfamiliar with college football may be surprised to hear that marching bands and choreographed shows are common entertainment.
What a lot of effort. The Ohio State Univerity Marching Band’s Hollywood Blockbuster Show performance becomes even more impressive when you read that the students in the band had a little longer than a week to learn the music and only one week to practice the drill. The next video shows the Ohio State Univerity Marching Band’s signature maneuver: dotting the i. In a tradition dating to Oct 1936, on occasions when the band spells out Ohio, one of the biggest honours is being the dot on the “i”.
Whenever the band performs script Ohio, a different fourth or fifth-year sousaphone player becomes the dot, except on the rare occasion when a non-band-member becomes the honorary dot. Notable honorary dots include the comedian Bob Hope (1978) and the golfer Jack Nicklaus (2006). Interestingly, one of the distinctive features of the maneuver comes from a 1938 mistake. The drum major reached the top of the “i” 3 or 4 measures early. Glen Johnson, the chosen sousaphone player, improvised by turning and bowing in order to use up the remaining music. The crowd roared its appreciation and the bow became part of the show.
Those not familiar with US college life and the role of football at colleges, will be surprised by both the extent and prominence of marching bands. College Raptor rhapsodises: “Marching band halftime shows are a highlight of Game Day It’s the flashy uniforms, the articulate steps, and amazing choreography that gets everyone going. All around the country bands perform crisp drills and blare incredible music. Marching bands are the pride and pinnacle of school spirit.”
College Raptor notes that there are 100s of marching bands, so it highlights the bands that it considers to be the best. These bands include the Texas A&M Aggie Band (the largest), the University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band, University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band, University of Texas Longhorn Band, and, of course, Ohio State University Marching Band.
Each band seeks to have a distinct identity. Besides the dotting the “i” routine, The Ohio University Marching Band makes use of an instrumentation set-up that is unique to the band. Consisting of 110 members, the marching band is divided into nine sections — percussion, alto saxophones, clarinets, mellophones, tenor saxophones, trumpets, trombones, euphoniums, and, as we know from the signature routine, sousaphones. This lineup gives The Ohio University Marching Band a unique and identifiable sound as they blare out carefully worked-out music sequences to keep college football fans enthused at halftime.
The band likes to be known as “The Best Damn Band in the Land” or “TBDBITL”, for short. If you would like to see more from The Ohio State University Marching Band, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel. You can also visit their official website for more information.