Nashville, TN – This fifth quarter matchup in Nashville last weekend had the band world talking all week! The reason why is because one band turned heads and caught everybody off guard.

The Thoroughbreds of Kentucky State University marched into Nissan Stadium, woke the entire band world up, and introduced themselves. Here’s why they woke the band world up … they’re small. This school is only marching 76 instruments but sounded twice their size.

But of course you know the Aristocrat of Bands at Tennessee State University was not going to lay down, let them come in their house and takeover. You mix these two ingredients and you easily get one of the best fifth quarters of the year. So let’s break down the first two rounds to give you a sense of what happened.

Round 1:

KSU came out the gate SWINGING. The band opened up with some funk playing “Fantastic Voyage” by Lakeside. This was where everybody was truly introduced to their power. Everything from the instrumentation to the arrangement itself was pretty well balanced for the most part. The only thing that was missing was the woodwinds. Tubas really carried the bassline and flexed their power. A really nice way to open up a fifth quarter.

TnSU returned the favor in the form of musicality. They played “Maybach 3” by Rick Ross I believe (If I’m wrong please correct me in the comments). They started the arrangement by flexing their musicianship through executing dynamics. The song started soft and quickly crescendo’d into a wall of sound with the trumpets sitting on top. You could clearly hear everything from the woodwinds to the basses (Which you’ll always hear, especially at TnSU). This was great way to return the punch.

Round 2:

KSU came back with the volume on MAX. They blasted “Track star” by Mooski. And one section that really stuck out was the mellophones. They sat on top of that arrangement and made sure they were heard throughout the stadium. They arrangement was clear catered to the size and instrumentation of the band, which can go a long way in carrying the sound when executed correctly. A great way to not be intimidated by TnSU’s size and amazing musicality.

The Aristocrat of Bands (TnSU) came out with a unique song selection “Loki” from the MCU series on Disney +. This was the perfect song to express their instrumentation and musicality once again. Whenever you have a unique song in your book that people recognize it can go a long way. The woodwinds were cutting through and the dynamics on this arrangement were on another level. You can truly tell this band takes pride in their musicality because it definitely showed. Every note was crisp and clean in terms of articulations. Their response is a great way to not let another band take you out of your comfort zone and remain true to your identity.

All in all, this was an amazing fifth quarter. Some say KSU won because of their song selection and power, for their size, while others lean towards TnSU because of their musicality. Whenever you get a matchup like this everybody wins because you’re pleasantly surprised by a small band with a big sound and get to hear a phenomenal band that emphasizes musicality. If you want to check out the rest of the rounds yourself, click here.

Some other arrangements to be on the lookout for in this fifth that were really good:

-“I want you” Marvin Gaye (KSU)

-“Stranger in my house” Tamia (TnSU)

-“Candy Rain” Soul for Real (KSU)

-“Regulate” Warren G (TnSU)

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