Music is a universal language that brings people and cultures together, and the NYUAD Battle of the Bands is no exception. The event is a concert and contest where musicians compete for the title of “best band on campus.” Winners are determined by how loud the crowd cheers for them, and by how much they impressed the panel of four judges based on the following criteria: originality of the song, stage presence, song arrangement, and, of course, the response from the crowd.
The goal is to encourage students to create more ensembles and bands, to support the passion that a lot of students who study different disciplines other than music have, and help them keep their creative music spirit alive. The only prerequisites for participation are that bands have music to play and a desire to get on stage and share their talent. Since our campus is a wonderful hub full of talent, not only student-wise but with regard to the entire community, performers have included students, staff and faculty bands, as well as musicians from the Abu Dhabi area. BoB encourages writing and performing original music, making it an event that fosters the opportunity for people to engage with each other as a musical community, creating new bands and ensembles while exploring different styles of music along the way. The concert has thus become a wonderful showcase of NYUAD’s community spirit, with passionate musicians on stage and an equally passionate and excited crowd to cheer them on.
Aside from encouraging interdisciplinary interaction and the building of a musical community, BoB has two main goals. The first is to give the contest winner the chance to record a full-length EP, fully produced at NYUAD’s world-class recording studio by the students in my Recording & Production Techniques class, giving them the chance to apply their recording skills to a real-world scenario. Second, BoB is committed to supporting NYUAD-led initiatives. In its first year, BoB supported the 2010 Fund with a stand to accept donations. In 2017, the event supported the NYU Abu Dhabi English in the Workplace Program, an initiative that funds the education of NYUAD contract staff members through a variety of English classes from beginner to college-credit, while also providing teaching opportunities for fifteen NYUAD students.
The first edition of the Battle of the Bands took place on May 7, 2017, in the Marketplace with over three hundred people in attendance. Ten amazing acts performed in the contest, including solo performers, trios, bands, and an acapella group. To commemorate the event, The Battle of the Bands Compilation was produced and recorded, which has one song from each of the artists who performed that night. The winner of the first edition of the Battle of the Bands was Emma Tocci from the Class of 2020, who moved the audience and judges with her soulful voice. With the success of last year’s event, BoB returned for the fall semester. A great number of participants applied to perform at BoB, with students from other universities also reaching out to participate. Due to the event’s time constraints however, an audition process was held through which fifteen performances were chosen. The event was moved from the Marketplace to the East Plaza to hold the more than four hundred music lovers who came out to cheer the contestants and watch the battle begin. It was one of the largest outdoor events ever hosted at NYUAD. Of course, NYUAD’s music community does not start and stop with the artists; the Battle of the Bands required and was a wonderful showcase of NYUAD’s community spirit, with students and faculty from multiple disciplines working side by side and collaborating to bring the Battle of the Bands to life and turning it into one of the biggest and most unique events at the institution. With this in mind, it is clear that NYUAD’s Battle of the Bands is rapidly becoming the epitome of music celebration on campus, while also engaging with musicians of the Emirates and the Gulf more broadly. NYUAD has a new tradition now, with the concert set to take place every Thursday of the second week of November in the East Plaza. This year on November 1st 2018 the third edition The Battle of the Bands’ reached its maximum expression, hosting 12 amazing artists, from a 27 piece Jazz Big Band, singer song writers, rock bands, pop bands and more.
This year, the winner was truly hard to decide, for the occasion the judges decided to nominate along with the first place the band MAYA, a second and a third place for the freshmen singer song-writer Mary Collins and at the alternative-Caribbean rock band 1AM. Now the bands are going record their EPs with Professor Marciano’s Recording & Production techniques class. It’s the class project, and one of its goals is to expose students to work in different environments confronting themselves with other professionals in the industry. For the successful organization and production of BoB, I owe special thanks to the NYUAD Music Program, NYUAD Film and New Media Department, and the Department of Social Responsibility for co-sponsoring the event, as well as Interactive Media, the Arts Center, the Department of Global Education, and NYUAD Arts and Humanities Division, and all the students that helped me to make this event amazing.