Looks can be deceiving, and what this group of college students does is about to prove just that. The group called HarvardTHUD looks like an elementary class sitting in a half-circle with a bunch of brightly colored sticks and cowboy hats about to play a mediocre performance of hot cross buns, but what they start playing is actually incredible.
Once the first few musicians slap their sticks against their legs, the unmistakeable first chords of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus can be heard. But this is so much more than just a cover of a popular country song. This group nails every beat, melody, and harmony of the song, and plays it all the way through almost perfectly.
The eight members of this band make playing this song look easy.
At first glance they’re all just sitting back, hitting their sticks to the beat of the song, but there is so much more that goes into it than that. First of all, they probably had to make an arrangement for this. There’s no written music for “Old Town Road” played on boom whackers. And second of all, timing is everything. If one person messes up it throws off the whole band, so it’s clear that a lot of work and practice went into this.
It should be noted that these aren’t just any old sticks used to make music. For those that don’t know what boom whackers are, they’re lightweight hollow tubes in various colors, and when struck- make the sound of different notes being played, depending on the length. The shorter the tube, typically the higher the note.
HarvardTHUD is a group of college students who decided they wanted to get together to play some percussion instruments. THUD actually stands for The Harvard Undergraduate Drummers. Their repertoire doesn’t just consist of brightly colored boom whackers and pop songs, though those tend to be their most popular videos on youtube. They also play on real instruments, plastic cups, buckets, and more and play a variety of songs from pop to classical and everything in between.
With influences and inspiration coming from groups like Blue Man Group and Performances like STOMP, the group has not only grown more talented, but also more popular.
Their YouTube channel has over 200,000 followers and climbing, and some of their videos even have over 1,000,000 views. If you’re a fan of “Old Town Road” look them up, theres a good chance you’ll get hooked on their other videos.
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