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 Post subject: TOP DRUMLINES REVIEW 2006 PLACES 1-5
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 5:28 am 
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OK Here we go. If I don't get this done now it'll never happen....anyway-- this year is an interesting year for drumlines and here's why; There simply isn't one obvious best drumline. These top drumlines are very close-- and much much closer than some recent scores indicate. In 2005, it was a Cadets runaway in the end, with the 0.3 difference between 1st and 2nd not really defining the true difference. In 2004, it was SCV clearly. Not so this year. These five strong lines have relative overlapping strengths and weaknesses that bring them close together. I'll try and define some of the differences as I see them; keep in mind these are somewhat subtle and of course, tainted by my biases at some level.

5. Cadets - AS an FYI, I marched on this line lo those years ago. Anyway, this is a drumline on speed. Bruce Banner becomes the incredible Hulk. Really. I mean, I am sittin there with two drum fans on either side and we are enjoying the show and then all of a sudden its HYPERDRUMLINE. I mean...thats what this is-- there is just so much of the field drums everyweher being featured-- giving exposure to error a new definition. And ya know what? Its just too much for the show. The drumline writing in total overbalances the rest of the show, except that vocalist ( ok--off topic). The drumline is featuring everywehere. They are so often in front. Their main feature time, and we all know what I am talking about is accompanied by other points in the show where they are soloing as a section equal to previous years entire show. I understand taking advantage of ones strengths, and make no mistake, the percussion section is a strength, but it is over written. OK-- onto more stuff of interest-- that bass drum section solo when they are on that podium was perfect. It is in fact the absolute longest bass drum feature I have ever heard. They missed on that complex stick exchange toss maneuver by one stick--but it was a cool thing to watch. They march well, sideways quickly with feature and clean too at that point. They march 6 quads, the most out of all corps and these guys are clean--one tenth point advantage for this. Six is a lot of quad to pull off-- and to march. The pit is so musical and beautifully arranged, both in Mallet and accessory percussion; just a pleasure. The percussion section pit and field were written with each other in mind and a way that can be learned from Check em out. Lots and lots of talent and reasonably challenging writing all the way through. None of this sitting arounf for one cymbal on atsnad hit thing. Just focused musical talent. The snares have a fair amount of cleaning to do, but the line is ahead of where it was last year. Forewarned is forearmed. My only big negative is that there is no " I" in team, and the field drums as a section strike me as an "I." If there were only drumlines on the field competing and nothing else,, it would be quickly seen that first place goes to the Cedets drumline. But its Drum Corp International--not drumline international. And thats where this year is at.

4. Phantom Regiment-- This line is the cleanest of the top 5 lines. The quads when they play sound like a single quad. The snares sound like a single snare. There just is no doubt. That being said, as much as the Cadets line is overexposed, the Phantom line is relatively underexposed. It was a strange experience to see these two lines back to back. Some of the best stuff the field drums due is in the back field. And Thats OK. I'd like to see their field drums in front just a bit more. Some downtime but less than last year. They dont take any chances though. Very conservative exposure to true error from this line. The book is technically complex and well performed, but it is a very safe book. There is nothing prone to disaster here and everythingnis written for consistency. The pit is good musically. They have a slight problem in aprpoach to a duel mallet feature, where the rythm mallet player is essentially covering the lead. Its actaully a fairly extended part in the middle of the show. What I am saying is that the straight sisteeenths rythm maintained by one mallet player is too loud relative to the mallet player carrying the melodic line next to her. The judge, I believe, caught this as he was standing right in front of them while commenting. ( I was only about 10 rows up on the 45, basically in front of the pit. So Phantom is clean and relatively conservative compared to the other four lines tonight. A SAfe bet in summary.

3. Bluecoats-- After last years innovative percussion smorgasboard-- I was really looking forward to this line. I was a little disappointed but not by much. Its a good line this year for sure. The pit opening sequence is very nice, with an interesting mix of mallets, cymbals, and various bell tones. The pit does a good job during the show of taking advantage of odd time signatures during soling and corp musical trnaitions. very nive. The field goes 9 snares and 5 quads. They did have one painful exposed rim shot fiasco and it took them about 5 counts to recover actually before they were all locked back in. This happens to drumlines every once in awhile where something goes awry and it causes a momentary loss of focus before the line locks in as one and gets back on track. This is normal, especuially in July. No big shakes. Quads did tick going into their feature ( the first one). This is usually an anticipatory concentration issue of thinking ahead just a bit too much. SPirit has this tendency, but the Bluecoats really dont. Just a single concentration error. Thier multi tenor drum feature segemtn is shorter than the cadets but well performed. Overall I though the Bluecoats hit in between Phantom and Cadets not in scoring as much as fit. The Cadets are overwrriten, Phantom is underwrittne, and the Bluecoats writing is in between. Nice job !!!

2. CAvaliers-- I did feel the Cavies won drums tonight. They missed on a single quad entrance but that was it. The pit and field books are tough and musical and really just very well performed. I got to see this line twice in a week-- a real treat. Just love the show too. Neat. I like the fact that they really play some technically challenging stuff throughout the entire show almost and play it very well. The pit joins MAdison and The Cadets as the top pits this year IMHO. ANother pleasant musical treat to be sure. The percussion section of the Cavaliers is close to perfect on the whole. Congratulations-- you all are leaving rysa4 somewhat speechless becuase there just isnt much to say-- you all march off and leave it on the field as it should be--- a percussive experience to enjoy without the listener feeling intruded on--- Champion

1. Blue Devils-- so much better than last year. They have been working hard. Cleaner; more technically interesting-- better marching. AT the beginning they do play some nice technically cleam stuff while marching sideways over to the right of the field. SO they can walk and chew gum at the same time!!! ( Unlike last year). The pit also has some definite talent, displayed as individuals. However, they really still have this tendency to overfeature individuals. There just isnt an "I" in team, but I think this will never change. Its ingraind in the attitude of the line. This is a bias on my part. The sort of individual talent that is a hallmark of this corp doesn't at a base level appeal to me as much as a full drumline or percussion section showing equal talent. And herein lies the rub-- the individual talent as written finishes ahead of the line talent as written. Their sane line solo feature was intense but not as technically interestng or musical as the other four lines. The wriing in fact overall did not strike me as musical as the other four lines. YES_ DRUMLINES CAN BE MUSICAL. Anyway-- its just a subjective thing- The Blue Debils showed searing technical profeciency this year-- I am hoping for some more musical writing next year.



So thats pretty much all I have to say on these five wonderful strong drumlines this year. Who di I think is the best? Its not an answrable question this year and here is why; The difernce between thse lines this year CANNOT BE DEFINED IN OBJECTIVE TERMS-- and thats me-- mr super critical saying this. The global difference this year between these lines is how the instructors/writers have decided to place these percussion sections within the corps as far as "Fit"--- both visual and musical-- and we have five unique but excellent results.

Heres my subjective comparative summary take on it--- Phantom is a bit too conservative, Cadets are too forward, Blue Devils are a bit too dry-- and that leaves Bluecoats and Cavaliers with the poridge that is just the right temp with the most tasteful result. Cavies go number one;; Blue coats go number two.

An interesting year!!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 6:19 am 
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Wow..great reading again Ryan! Thanks for taking the time to put all this together. Not being a percussion person at all, I have gained mroe appreciation for it after reading both threads.

One question for you, Boston has been scoring up there with this top group. Where do you think they fit in your subjective comparative summary?


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 Post subject: A true champion to be.
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 9:13 am 
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I agreed with the majority of your accessments and evaluations with the following exceptions about PR, where we will have to agree to disagree.

1. underexposed
2. relatively conservative.

IMO, these BUZZ words (underexposed and relatively conservative), are disrespectful and in no way describes or is a reflection of this extraordinary talented group.

The complex bass writing is unmatched, BTW no need for individual snare or tenor solo's either, just pure physical demand, along with their consistant execution with a come get some attitude is unequaled this season. Sure there are other great lines this summer, but none bring it like PR and I believe that is because they have to earn respect each and every performance on and off the field.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 7:50 am 
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Nice review! It’s nice to see someone reviewing drumlines, as I am a drummer. I agree with most of your points.

I do think BD’s books are not musical enough, dry, and just not interesting. Asking for them to have a musical book next year will be a challenge, unless they get a new battery arranger. They have had the same bunch since ’94 I believe, so I doubt that will happen. I believe their time was done in ’97. Oh well. That’s why they haven’t won drums since then!

From what I’ve seen of Cavies, I do like it better than years past. Granted, Casella is my favorite battery arranger…possibly EVER! This book seems much less challenging than his past books at SCV, but that’s okay. I wonder how many of the cats in this line are vets from Cavies?!?! I wonder how they are “dealing” with such a huge technique change. Their scores at the beginning of the season led me to believe that it wasn’t working out so well…lol. Have they cleaned up quite a bit then?

Cadets…I haven’t seen them live yet…but I have seen videos online. I can see why you would say that they are too forward. However, is it much worse than last year? I mean, they had a nice long, very BEEFY drum solo last year. Just curious, because I thought last years’ drumline is on my list of some of the greatest of all time.

Phantom’s books are a little different. Paul Rennick writing musical, and interesting beats. They don’t “seem” all that challenging, but some of the neuances are. Buzz rolls into a crecendoing tap roll, and a LOT of dynamics in EVERYTHING he writes. A lot of low end stuff that has to be hard to clean. I just know that not many drumlines (if any) can play with the dynamics and musicality that they can, and they are very clean!

So…I don’t know WHO will win drums this year. However, it appears to be much closer this year than it has been in a LONG time! It seems that every year (for a few years anyway) there has been a clean-cut winner, and it’s usually been the Cadets. I hope that the battle is with Phantom, Cadets and possibly Cavies. I know Cadets have all of a sudden been scoring real low in drums (which I find odd, because at Indy, they tied for 1st) but I think they can clean it up. I just hope BD doesn’t win with that awful book. I don’t know yet about Bluecoats, but clips of them sound pretty cool…just not clean.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:05 am 
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SNModdison wrote:
Nice review! It’s nice to see someone reviewing drumlines, as I am a drummer. I agree with most of your points.

I do think BD’s books are not musical enough, dry, and just not interesting. Asking for them to have a musical book next year will be a challenge, unless they get a new battery arranger. They have had the same bunch since ’94 I believe, so I doubt that will happen. I believe their time was done in ’97. Oh well. That’s why they haven’t won drums since then!

From what I’ve seen of Cavies, I do like it better than years past. Granted, Casella is my favorite battery arranger…possibly EVER! This book seems much less challenging than his past books at SCV, but that’s okay. I wonder how many of the cats in this line are vets from Cavies?!?! I wonder how they are “dealing” with such a huge technique change. Their scores at the beginning of the season led me to believe that it wasn’t working out so well…lol. Have they cleaned up quite a bit then?

Cadets…I haven’t seen them live yet…but I have seen videos online. I can see why you would say that they are too forward. However, is it much worse than last year? I mean, they had a nice long, very BEEFY drum solo last year. Just curious, because I thought last years’ drumline is on my list of some of the greatest of all time.

Phantom’s books are a little different. Paul Rennick writing musical, and interesting beats. They don’t “seem” all that challenging, but some of the neuances are. Buzz rolls into a crecendoing tap roll, and a LOT of dynamics in EVERYTHING he writes. A lot of low end stuff that has to be hard to clean. I just know that not many drumlines (if any) can play with the dynamics and musicality that they can, and they are very clean!

So…I don’t know WHO will win drums this year. However, it appears to be much closer this year than it has been in a LONG time! It seems that every year (for a few years anyway) there has been a clean-cut winner, and it’s usually been the Cadets. I hope that the battle is with Phantom, Cadets and possibly Cavies. I know Cadets have all of a sudden been scoring real low in drums (which I find odd, because at Indy, they tied for 1st) but I think they can clean it up. I just hope BD doesn’t win with that awful book. I don’t know yet about Bluecoats, but clips of them sound pretty cool…just not clean.


Enjoyed your post! :) I am on vacation for the next several days and will get back into the drum corps swing of things and posts etc in a few days !


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 Post subject: Quarterfinal Observations
PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 7:07 am 
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Well after 5 hours of drumlines I did leave the thetaer before the Cavies went on, but I did see everyone else, so I thought I would give a personal opnion update on the 4 drumlines out of this group I did see.

1. Bluecoats-- musical and I do like some of the frenetic moments that the field drums engage in throughout the how; nice exposure with good technical demand. The pit is also musical in their arrangment. I thought the field drums were a little off as far as cleanliness but not bad. I thought their score of 19.05 was about right too.

2. Cadets- much improved. again. They changed their show quite a bit from San Antonio and the hyper-drumming is gone. They just have the one elngated feature. That bass drum podium passase is still the longest bass drumline solo I have ever seen. They didnt tick per se on it but there was some volume uneveness drum to drum that I didnt notice in San Antonio. Their main quad feature was perfect ( they have 6 quads most this year) and their remaining field drum features were very clean. However, they had some water in the line during other parts of the show where the snareline is concerened. Not in exposed parts but audible to me. Not too bad though. The pit remains a top pit of the year in musicality, performance, and technical merit. The pit for the last 6 coprs was overmiked in the theaters which was a shame mostly but there was no problem hearing the pit tonight for sure. ANyway, the Cadets drumline again left me saying " Wow" at the end of the show and their score of 18.65 was too low by quite a bit. SCV had an 18.45 and the Cadets drumline is closer to the top than the middle. In his interview, Geirge addressed this from a corp standpoint but it applies to the drumline as well. The reaction to the show from the judges is aan issue and unfortunately it looks like the drumline score is along for that ride. Excellent line this year and a wonderful treat to watch.

3. Phantom-- It is again just bizarre to see the Cadets and Phantom both as drumlines and corps back to back. Quite the extreme. I really really want to be able to say that this drumline is the best line just like SCV was in 2004. I really do. But i can't. AS far as the show, the field drums, and inn oarticular the snares, start right at the beginning with an exposed passge between the 40 and 50 yeard lines to the viewers left. They had major problems tonight here, ticking 4-5 times immediately. The first one the line almost came apart ( snares). HOWEVER- after this they got it together and were very clean as far as field drums the rest of the way. Becuase of the miking issue I mentioned above, the pit was more obvious than usual. This was good for me as I really got to appreciate Phantoms pit moreso than before. Very musical-- their mallet techniques are quite good and they understand the differnce bettween pulling sound out of a xylophone. vibraphone, marimba as opposed to merely hitting the thing. Very Musical pit writing for sure moving them into a top four pit position for me along with Cavies, Cadets, and Madison. AS a whole though, and as a section, exposure to error is low compared to the top lines-- the line and section are just not put in a noticable position musically realtive to the other top corps. I view this as a safe way to go. Also, their are points in the show were the entire percussion section is simply parked and not playing, including the pit. Not good. The fact that they are able to get away with this and not have it reflect in a score is a huge advantage for the corp- as they rack up points in other well deserved areas of scoring but still take top drums in a show where a judge as NOTHING TO JUDGE for several minutes of the show. IN addition to that particular section of the show, the filed drums take, on the whole, quite the rest during the show. When they do play, I find them technically accurate with some excellent technical writing, but as I said, not particularly musically noticable. Their score of 19.55 tonight is too high and their separation between them and the remaining lines just doesnt have a justification. Sorry.

4. Blue Devils- Still SO much better than last years line. Wow. Again, searing technical proficiency just like in San ntonion. Lots of individual exposure again but their line is playing very well now. The beginning of their show had some issues as far as ticking but by the time they coalesce as a line and march off sideways they had it together. I thought they were really into their show and play a very physicial form of drumming. Their pit is excellent on the terchnical side and reasonably musical as well. The score of 19.1 ( I think that was it) is a little low.

5. Cavies- did not see tonight.

Anyway, that my take on 4 of the vie and I'll pop over to the 6-12 thread tonight as those lines were realy interesting and many played very very well I thought. The broadcast was good ! Watching 1974 Santa Clara is great; same with 1975 Blue stars. ANd by the way, what is this corp " Impulse?" Their drumlines has some absolute animals on it. Wow. The traditional technicque of their snare drummers is better than a lot of the top 12 lines. wow.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 4:28 am 
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Well just like that DCI 2006 is over. Blue Devils and Phantom with the high drums numbers this year. Thinking through what was rewarded as far as scores this year its clear that technical proficiency of field drums and particularly snare lines drove placement this year. Pit percussion seems to have not played quite as large a role. Blue Devils and Phantom had the more intricate snare line books and both lines were clean too, at least in quarter finals.

Pit, musicality, and general effect ( as far as percussion) were the purvue of the other top lines this year however, in a year without the typical obvious best drumline.

The one half point disparity between the two percussion judges on the Cadets line is among the largest I have seen as far as a top twelve corp. The 18.9 judge would seem to be closer to the truth than the 18.4 judge. Wow. Percussion judge one would seem to have placed the Cadets in fifth single-handedly overall.. No big shakes-. Cadets, you all were a really fun and excellent line this year and much better than an 18.4 whether in the stands or on the field.

I do like the musicality of the Bluecoats alot, and the signature frenetic section stuff they do is a fun thing to watch each year it seems. Still the potential line of the future IMHO.

Last year in my 2005 thread I predicted a Phantom Drumline win so congrats to them. I hope they will emphasize more percussion general effect and line exposure next year however. Certainly the talent is there both on the field and in the pit.

Nice comeback for the Santa Clara Vanguard this year after last. The filed drums have a wonderfully unique approach to music and writing, an SCV hallmark and a welcome return to the past too. The pit needs more talent and better instruction and writing. The emphasis on field drums this year helped the scoring out for them. AN excellent chance and motivation for a fix next year.

Next years winner prediction-- Blue Devils storm back to a drumline title win.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 2:59 pm 
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rysa4 wrote:
Well just like that DCI 2006 is over. Blue Devils and Phantom with the high drums numbers this year. Thinking through what was rewarded as far as scores this year its clear that technical proficiency of field drums and particularly snare lines drove placement this year. Pit percussion seems to have not played quite as large a role. Blue Devils and Phantom had the more intricate snare line books and both lines were clean too, at least in quarter finals.

Pit, musicality, and general effect ( as far as percussion) were the purvue of the other top lines this year however, in a year without the typical obvious best drumline.

The one half point disparity between the two percussion judges on the Cadets line is among the largest I have seen as far as a top twelve corp. The 18.9 judge would seem to be closer to the truth than the 18.4 judge. Wow. Percussion judge one would seem to have placed the Cadets in fifth single-handedly overall.. No big shakes-. Cadets, you all were a really fun and excellent line this year and much better than an 18.4 whether in the stands or on the field.

I do like the musicality of the Bluecoats alot, and the signature frenetic section stuff they do is a fun thing to watch each year it seems. Still the potential line of the future IMHO.

Last year in my 2005 thread I predicted a Phantom Drumline win so congrats to them. I hope they will emphasize more percussion general effect and line exposure next year however. Certainly the talent is there both on the field and in the pit.

Nice comeback for the Santa Clara Vanguard this year after last. The filed drums have a wonderfully unique approach to music and writing, an SCV hallmark and a welcome return to the past too. The pit needs more talent and better instruction and writing. The emphasis on field drums this year helped the scoring out for them. AN excellent chance and motivation for a fix next year.

Next years winner prediction-- Blue Devils storm back to a drumline title win.



Will the Blue Devils change drum staff? The addition of Jim Wunderlich doing the Front Ensemble stuff is great, however, I think that the drum stuff is “done.” It’s simply too un-musical, and for me, not very entertaining at all. It’s been since 1999 that I’ve liked even PART of a Blue Devils drum book.

Just wondering if you think they’ll take the Drum Trophy with their current staff.

Nate


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 9:19 pm 
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SNModdison wrote:
rysa4 wrote:
Well just like that DCI 2006 is over. Blue Devils and Phantom with the high drums numbers this year. Thinking through what was rewarded as far as scores this year its clear that technical proficiency of field drums and particularly snare lines drove placement this year. Pit percussion seems to have not played quite as large a role. Blue Devils and Phantom had the more intricate snare line books and both lines were clean too, at least in quarter finals.

Pit, musicality, and general effect ( as far as percussion) were the purvue of the other top lines this year however, in a year without the typical obvious best drumline.

The one half point disparity between the two percussion judges on the Cadets line is among the largest I have seen as far as a top twelve corp. The 18.9 judge would seem to be closer to the truth than the 18.4 judge. Wow. Percussion judge one would seem to have placed the Cadets in fifth single-handedly overall.. No big shakes-. Cadets, you all were a really fun and excellent line this year and much better than an 18.4 whether in the stands or on the field.

I do like the musicality of the Bluecoats alot, and the signature frenetic section stuff they do is a fun thing to watch each year it seems. Still the potential line of the future IMHO.

Last year in my 2005 thread I predicted a Phantom Drumline win so congrats to them. I hope they will emphasize more percussion general effect and line exposure next year however. Certainly the talent is there both on the field and in the pit.

Nice comeback for the Santa Clara Vanguard this year after last. The filed drums have a wonderfully unique approach to music and writing, an SCV hallmark and a welcome return to the past too. The pit needs more talent and better instruction and writing. The emphasis on field drums this year helped the scoring out for them. AN excellent chance and motivation for a fix next year.

Next years winner prediction-- Blue Devils storm back to a drumline title win.



Will the Blue Devils change drum staff? The addition of Jim Wunderlich doing the Front Ensemble stuff is great, however, I think that the drum stuff is “done.” It’s simply too un-musical, and for me, not very entertaining at all. It’s been since 1999 that I’ve liked even PART of a Blue Devils drum book.

Just wondering if you think they’ll take the Drum Trophy with their current staff.

Nate


Well we are just having some fun guessing. Last year I said I thought Phantom would win this year. I thought that becuase in 2005 they maxed their show as a drumline, only limited by the writing offered to them; I also thought Bluecoats were the line of the future based on some new and unusual creativity. Bluecoats continue to move and Phantom won. But these are comments to reflect scoring patterns and habits, which are some what cyclical. You can never predict stuff like injury and its impact or worse though. ANyway, the judges clearly rewarded technical performance this year and not musicality and less emphasis on pit. I am not agreeing or disagreeing with this, it is an observation and opinion. And we are talking about separating the very best lines too; not a good line bad line discussion.

If this pattern continues--- and I think it will. Blue Devils have a lead role to the title next year as far as achieving the highest score.


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