As early as 1914, Northeastern University offered musical activities for its students. The Northeastern Symphony Orchestra began in 1914 and continued until the early 1940s. The first general band, created in 1921, was led by Laverne Bushnell with the assistance of Northeastern University professor Joseph Spear. In addition to the band, other musical groups formed. The Banjo Club started in 1923 and was active until 1941. From 1930–1933, the Saxophone Band also performed at concerts. The Dance Band, or Bacchanalians, performed at social functions and gave concerts from 1923–1942 and 1951–1962. In response to all of these groups forming in the mid–1920s, the Musical Council was created. Active from 1926 to 1934, the council consisted of the leaders of each group and an elected president.
The marching band was directed by students until the early 1950s, when the entire musical ensemble was transferred to the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). As the National ROTC Band Association, for four years they continued the tradition of performing at football games and gave frequent concerts. They also learned songs of the United Nations and played during visits of foreign dignitaries. During these four years, only individuals enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program could participate in the band.
After the Band Association was reestablished in 1958, the group sought the direction of a professional musician. Lloyd Blakely served as the first conductor until 1960, when Professor Overcash assumed the role of advisor. The Band expanded its involvement on and off campus performing a concert series, playing at basketball and hockey games, and playing concerts, hospitals, and other venues throughout Boston.
In 1965, Professor William Tesson was named the director of the Band Association. Under his guidance, the marching band, concert band, stage band, pep band, and wind ensemble became distinct parts of the Band Association. A chamber orchestra was also formed under its first director, Professor David Sonnenschein, and it performed jointly with local community orchestras. The concert band adopted the name Trityricon, and the stage band became Rocky Road. Members of the pep band played at basketball games, hockey games, and crew meets, while the marching band played during football games and parades. Tesson resigned in 1977 and his assistant, Gary Good, served as acting director for one year.
The next two directors were Matthew McGarrell (1978–1984) and Kenneth Ayoob (1984–1990). Although the stage band, wind ensemble, and Chamber Orchestra dissolved during the 1980s, the other groups began traveling with the athletic teams, and a jazz band was formed.
Allen Feinstein became director in 1990. Under his direction, the Band Association continued to grow, forming the Composer's Collective, which arranged for professional musicians to come to Northeastern University to teach. In 2011, there are nine different groups in the Band Association: concert band, jazz band, wind ensemble, pep band, and orchestra, as well as blues/rock, rock, fusion, and electronic ensembles.