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The Late Movies: Ohio State University's Rad Marching Band

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This past weekend we were treated to a masterful football field tribute to video games by Ohio State University's Marching Band (aka TBDBITL, or The Best Damn Band In The Land). But this is by no means the first amazing thing the band has done. Let's look back at some supremely awesome halftime performances by TBDBITL, and you may vent your sports-related frustration in the comments.

Note: if you have a half hour to kill, Wikipedia's page about the OSUMB is epic.

"To Boldly Go"

The band performs a space-flight (both real and sci-fi) tribute, including Star Trek references as well as an on-field appearance by John Glenn (!).

"Beach Boys Tribute"

Celebrating 50 years of The Beach Boys, the band performs a medley along with fancy footwork and on-field formations (starting with a lovely car). The camera is a little iffy at the beginning of this one. Stick around for the surfer at 4:20.

"Script Ohio"

The signature formation of this band is called Script Ohio, and it's exactly what it sounds like -- the band forms the word Ohio in script on the field. Here's their performance of that maneuver on October 29, 2011 (it was first performed roughly 75 years earlier, on October 24, 1936).

Entering Ohio Stadium

Not all the action happens on the field. Here's a video showing the band's grand entrance. Somehow this reminds me of the medal scene in Star Wars.

For an inside view of what the band looks like as it streams in, check out this video from another performance. I love the tuba deployment flips around a minute in.

Sousaphone vs. Camera

In this clip, a cameraman gets too close to a high-stepping sousaphone player in the middle of his act. As a YouTube commenter said: "Rule #1 of marching...if someone is? in your way...hit them."

Tribute to Funk

Honestly, I think this is only moderately funky. Their rendition of "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" is a little brassy for my taste, but I guess you work with what you've got.

Band History

This promo video explains the culture and history surrounding the band. Wow.

Post Your Favorites

I'm sure we've got some Ohio alums in the audience. What's the best thing you've seen this band do?

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

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Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
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English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]


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