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 Post subject: Entertainment vs. Sophistication
PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2002 4:32 am 
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O.K., I know this has been discussed alot, but don't you think that the drum corps shows over the last few years have become less and less entertaining? Maybe I should say "harder to get into.." It appears to me, a drum corps fan for 16 years, that the shows lately are awfully hard to enjoy the first dozen times I view them. :( Am I alone here? Now, don't get me wrong....I eventually "get into" them, but they still aren't as enjoyable in the end as shows from years past. (I'm talking strictly junior divison I corps here...)

I think part of the problem is that each corps has an identity, and with that identity comes certain kinds of music that they, for the most part, stick to. (Phantom=classical, BlueDevils=Jazz, etc..) I guess the corps feel that they have played all the "recognizable" and "easy to get into" "standbys" and feel that they need "new" material. This is why, a lot of the time, the shows are hard to get into. If you don't know how the music, you won't enjoy the show as much. (most likely..)

But, I think another part of it is just this "ideal" that the corps have of sophistication, and the need to have subtle undertones and interpretations going on. For example, (and I'm not trying to knock any individual corps, this is JUST an example I thought of..) when I first viewed the Cavaliers 2000 program, I really enjoyed the drill, but the music left me lost. As I listened and watched repeatedly, I got into it, and eventually came to like it very much. Then, I listened to the alternate audio tracks on the dvd by the corps director, Jeff Fiedler (sp?) and he talks about the white-tipped flags, and how they represent the white water of niagara falls, and how the corps members moving to the front sideline represents the falls falling, etc... and I thought..."Huh?" :? How is anybody watching this supposed to know this without hearing it from the director himself?

In other words, is it really necessary to put all these things into shows with "inner meanings"? If we don't understand it without being told what it means, isn't it useless to 99% of the people who view it throughout the season? I don't know the answer here, but I can remember shows (Velvet Knights 88') where the first time I saw them, I LOVED them. Of course, I had not been watching drum corps for very many years at that point, and that may be a factor, too...but, I don't think so. I think music is key. I think that if a corps chooses music that crowds will love, and puts it to drill that is exciting and challenging at the same time, the shows will become much more accessible (sp?) to the common fan. In the end though, I still love drum corps, and probably always will... These are just my thoughts. :) I'd like to know what you, my fellow fans think...

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2002 9:35 am 
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Two thoughts.... I think you're right about the music but I don't think it's because the music is unfamiliar. Even when some of the big dogs are playing familiar music they over arrange it to the point you barely recognize it. I think there's no question you can excite audiences with unfamiliar music as long as it's arranged in such a way to emotionally involve the audience. Lately I've heard a lot of musical tension without a lot of resolution.... it kind of leaves me hanging and wanting that final chord to hang on for a few more counts. Not all corps are doing this and the ones that do aren't doing it all the time, but it seems as if this is the musical trend in drum corps.

As for the Niagra Falls show, I will have to disagree with you on that one. Visually that program is a masterpiece. The first time I saw it, I saw Niagra Falls on the field. The marriage of the visual to the musical program was incredible. Even though the Cavies lost that contest and I had never seen the Cadets perform, I knew I had seen the 2000 World Champions.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2002 10:58 am 
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Well, my own feelings on this issue disagree with yours, but I think this issue has many facets to it, the biggest of which is what era does each individual fan belong to. I think a lot of the younger fans are able to enjoy the shows more because they are more familiar with the music being played on the field. I knew about Niagara Falls well before seeing the show and had heard the original piece several times.

I agree with Machine that sometimes the problem has to do with the arrangements. One of the top corps in particular has had a problem with "over arranging" where they arrange the emotion right out of the show.

BUT. . . I still feel the big issue here is age/era. This is most evidenced by who brings this topic up (and I mean no disrespect in saying this). Almost every time someone is complaining about lack of entertainment in today's corps they are from the older crowd. :roll:

It is like how I no longer listen to pop or top 40 radio because it caters to kids I teach rather than people of my age group. Pop radio has "evolved" to a spot that I don't really care for. I might could learn more about it and possibly like it more, or I could just hang on to the songs of the 70's and 80's as my favorites and go with it.

Just a thought. 8)

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2002 1:33 pm 
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Hey, don't get me wrong. I love the Cavies 2000 drill. I have also come to really like the show musically. I was just using them as an example for what I was talking about. I am a fan of ALL the corps, and I'm not that old, either. (Younger than 30...) :) I'm not saying, "Let's go back to the way things used to be in the 80's..." I mean, I never ever complained once when most of the major corps switched to B flat horns, because to me there wasn't THAT much of a difference and, in the end, it's a step forward. I'm just trying to get people to give their ideas so that maybe, if there are some good ones, someone from one of the corps can at least look at them and say, "You know, that may work for us..." You just never know... :wink:

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2002 1:43 pm 
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I think that maybe there's this idea that entertainment and sophistication are mutually exclusive terms. Here I disagree intensely.

Niagra Falls blew me away. But so did BAC back when they were still doing 30 sec. of Conquest at the ends of their shows. Sometimes simple has a power all it's own, and sometimes the layering of patterns upon patterns makes for a jaw-dropping experience. It's all about how it's presented.

If a show is nothing but atonal or twelve-tone music, that might be pretty sophisticated, but I wonder how many people are going to be able to sit through it? On the other hand a section of atonal stuff followed by a complex but thorough resolution might leave the audience gasping for breath before exploding in applause.

CONTEXT is just as important in music as it is in language. "Complex," is not synonymous with "weird" or "boring," but neither is "Simplicity." I can't much stand a show that's complex for the sake of being complex, but if the complexity has a purpose that I can see and get into, that makes a big difference.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2002 10:00 pm 
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Dave, you are soooooooo right! Good going! :D


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 Post subject: Technical Demand as compromising artful arrangment.
PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2002 6:02 pm 
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Today's corps place far to much emphasis on technical demand in their arrangments. It's not 'sophistication' per se--sometimes its the anti thesis of sophistication--it's simply-- "well the other corps is getting points for playing a passage like this, so why don't we imitate it." In the push to be more and more demanding in horn and drum writing, often the nuances of composing and arranging are lost. Sometimes I think the people doing the arrangements don't have as much e><perience as they need--perhaps there aren't as many talented arrangers as there used to be-- certainly it seems that people with a real creative vision for drum corps writing are rare.

One of the corps who does have great arrangments all the time is Southwind. Every year their staff takes great care as to the sound of the corps-- the horn line is ballanced--the drums are in tune-- the writing in the pit really supports the horns--even the visual packages tend to make the show cohere. I think the Glassmen do a great job getting their whole creative staff on the same page. One of the biggest tricks in drum corps arranging is achieving a sucessful marriage between the horn/drum arranging and the drill writer. Glassmen get it right every year.

I think one corps whose drill really compromises the technical abilities of the drum line especially, but also the horns, is the Blue Devils. They have perhaps the greatest performing talent of any corps-- but often there is a lack of cohesion between the drill writing and the musical arrangements.


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 Post subject: my thoughts
PostPosted: Sat Jul 06, 2002 11:56 am 
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I know this topic was from awhile back, but I wanted to chime in. The whole issue of complexity an sophistication is very tough to talk about. A question for anybody would be; who defines complexity and who decides that a show is officially a "sophisticated show for the sake of being complex?" Somehow in one of my earlier points I had made a comment that some corps don't necissarily write shows that are crowd friendly(maybe not on purpose), however, there are plenty of people that like this. So people either like it or not. I think the word sophisticted and complex get used to often to describe a show or an idea that is not liked. I am certainly not a sophisticated person but I do like some of the things done by corps like BK, SCV, or Glassmen, where they are doing new things. I disagree with the notion stated above that some corps and arrangers say well, they're doing it so we should. I believe that these corps are doing just the opposite, they are trying new things. Imagine what must have been said when a drum corps marched a non military, curvalinear drill for the first time. I know what is being said, I believe shows should be accessable, however, my whole point to all of this is to say that people will like these things and will not think them complex or sophisticated. I think it is just simply hard to say that something is sophisticated.

Wes Perkins
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 Post subject: Entertainment vs. Sophistication
PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2002 1:09 pm 
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Howdy!

Just off the top of my head...
When I went to the show in Oswego, IL last month, it was my 1st show since Oswego, 2000. (Oh, how I missed my corps!) I was really pretty hyped before the show. Oswego is a show that has been going on for at least 14 years, so the crowd is a fairly sophisticated drum corps crowd. I was far, far, far from alone in giving a bigger hand to the Kingsmen for marching a 24.45 show in a steady rain (which quit almost as soon as they marched off the field) as I gave to the Glassmen's winning show. I cannot say that I was not at all entertained by Toledo's show, but it almost seems that they are trying very hard to live up to the "BORING" & "Boring Their Way Into Your Hearts" t-shirts that their souvie stand is selling. (Let it be noted that the crowd nearly brought down the stands, stomping and screaming for the Chicago Royal Airs Alumni Corps, who did not even march their complete show.)
My second (& God-willing, not my last) show of the season was in Frankfort, IL. This was a 1st-ever show, with most of the folks in the stands talking about the "bands" & the usual Cavvie crowd seemingly much reduced for a "local" show (possibly because of the badly over-priced gen.admiss. tickets). The Kingsmen (the only corps on both shows) were once again treated quite warmly for a low-scoring, but very entertaining show, as were the Colt Cadets. The "novice" crowd then displayed more and more appreciation for the shows of Blue Stars, Marion Glory Cadets, Capital Regiment, and Colts, none of whom were marching programs of pop standards & hits (although it must be said that Blue Star's "30 Years" show could almost as easily be called "Drum Corps Standards & Warhorses"). Finally, even without their usual "home crowd", the Cavaliers received several standing O's for their highly sophisticated and really pretty esoteric sensual assault. (And I was smiling so hard my face hurt.)
I think that this demonstrates that there is a point where corps can reach the judges and the fans in the stands (as well as their potential future members). More corps must (yes, must) make more effort to discover that point. In the end, this is not just a question of sophisticated musical esthetics. Ultimately, it is a question of economics and the survival of the activity.
There are too many other ways for the fans to spend their entertainment (yes, their entertainment) dollars. There are too many other things that the marching members can be doing than spending their time and money to march and play a show that not only does not turn them on but actually turns them off (just ask Sky Ryders and Northern Aurora to name just 2 corps that went from being "entertainers" to being "deep"--- well, I guess you really can't do that, because neither corps is on the field these days). Beyond 15-20 (if that many & not all in Division I) financially secure corps, most drum corps are one small disaster away from bankruptcy. An even smaller number, I would presume, have music majors beating on their doors to get in (after all, there are only so many future band directors, and many of them will never march in a corps).
How many more corps have to go down and out before the activity is left with
12-15 nationally-touring corps and a handfull of struggling local Division III corps? If you take a close look, we're not far from that scenario right now.
It has been said that today's drum corps' sophistication is the result of evolution. Well, friends, evolution can lead to extinction as easily as does failure to evolve.
But, I am both starting to ramble and running out of space, so...

'Til later... 8-)

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Last edited by GWFrog on Wed Jul 31, 2002 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: i hear you
PostPosted: Sun Jul 28, 2002 3:19 pm 
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:D My sentiments exactly. Believe me i love the activity and i'm amazed at all the work that goes into a show. I think that the skill is unparalled. However can you really get into the concept of a show after a first viewing or even several.
The music is key then a complex drill, my guess. However a neat suggestion would be to have a short text..a paprgraph or so just explaining the concept or story line of the show. That could be made available online thus you can really have an idea about what the corps is trying to do.


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 Post subject: Not a bad idea...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 1:51 pm 
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That's not a bad idea. Maybe the corps could start handing out librettos (sp?) before each performance, like Phantom Regiment did in 82'? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Not a bad idea...
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 4:16 pm 
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Cardman wrote:
That's not a bad idea. Maybe the corps could start handing out librettos (sp?) before each performance, like Phantom Regiment did in 82'? :)


I saw Phantom several times in 81 and 82. To this day, I have never laid eyes on their libretto. I did not have one ounce of doubt about what they were doing musically or visually. The libretto was a gimmick.

If corps really need a piece of paper to explain what they are doing, then they haven't done a good job putting a show together.

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John Swartz


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 3:38 pm 
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The only reason I have an issue with todays drum corps is because of it's lack of sound intensity,...and that it is emmense departure from days of old. The catch, is that my 18 year old son has told me the same thing along with many of his band mates...He once told me after seeing a show in Santa Ana California that he did not see the difference between bands and drum corps....there used to be an obvious difference. The generational issue with me does just not fly.....todays drum lines for example are far better and more intense than drumlines of old. I feel that the generational thing is an easy fix. However, the problems with drum corps today are noticed by both old and young.

Felix Hernandez
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1977-78 Anaheim Kingsmen
1979 Blue Devils

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 Post subject: Re: Technical Demand as compromising artful arrangment.
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 2:26 am 
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Palamambron wrote:



I think one corps whose drill really compromises the technical abilities of the drum line especially, but also the horns, is the Blue Devils. They have perhaps the greatest performing talent of any corps-- but often there is a lack of cohesion between the drill writing and the musical arrangements.


In recent years actually the reverse has been true. There has been a lack of consistency in talent and performance relative to past years and also current top competitors while the drills have been much better. The drills arent compromising the drum line; other corps are drawing the talent equally well or better, and instructional staff talent is an even balance or better elsewhere, even "close by". The DVDs are pretty straightforward these days on the talent and performance end. ( really good)


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