Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

DCA Observations from a DCI Fan.


  • Please log in to reply
51 replies to this topic

#1 doctortelco

doctortelco

    DCP Rookie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 36 posts

Posted 03 September 2012 - 06:35 PM

*
POPULAR

I have been a drum corps fan since I saw my first McCormick how to marching video in the fall of 1975. I went to my firstDCI contest in Atlanta, GA in 1976. I have attended 3 DCI Championships (1980,1984 and 2000). I have a minor in music and I wrote for Drum Corps World from 1983-1996. With all of that drum corps fan experience up until last night I had never seen a DCA corps live. So here are some random observations:
1) The DCA corps are more fun to watch. They haven't got caught up in all the "I must play music the audience may not understand".
2) The DCA corps are not electronic junkies. My observations is the DCI corps have lost their way in the electronics. If I want to hear an electric piano I have plenty of Chick Corea CD's I can listen to at home. I go to a drum corps contest to hear brass, percussion, not MIDI music. The Blue Devils this year used mics for their soloist--I had no problem hearing any of the non-micro phoned DCA corps this evening.
3)The DCA Corps were not hung up on props. I know some of the DCA corps this year used props, but all the ones I saw were tastefully done, fit in the show and were not covering up for some lack of imagination drill design.
4) The fans of the DCA corps are more mature. The crowd was not full of high school band students.
5) I was surprised to find out that the upper deck of the stadium was not utilized for seat sales. I actually thought my ticket was in the second deck only to find myself considerably lower in the stands.
6) The DCA corps are not afraid to play loud. Nothing stirs up an audience like pure impact volume. Many of the DCI corps have cut back their volume level to sound more musical....bad trade. I don't expect a drum corps to sound like the London Symphony Orchestra.

I guess the biggest surprise was the size of the crowd. The crowd was a fraction of what I saw at any of the DCI championships I have attended. The DCA corps are great! Many DCI fans maybe missing out on the best half of the activity. After the second open class corps of the evening I was wondering why I still followed DCI when this experience was so much better. The good news is I don't need to choose between the two halves of drum corps, but if I had to make a choice I would attend DCA first. I am already looking forward to attending next year.
Scott Smith

#2 Kyle B

Kyle B

    DCP Fanatic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,646 posts

Posted 03 September 2012 - 06:45 PM

Glad to hear you had a good time Scott!
~Kyle

2002 - 2003 Crossmen
2006 - 2008 Bushwackers

2009 - 2012 Buccaneers
Retired?

#3 Mick Krackin'

Mick Krackin'

    DCP Veteran

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 866 posts

Posted 03 September 2012 - 09:04 PM

You make some good points. I'm glad to hear that such a long time drum corps fan finally made his way to a DCA show after 37 years. :doh:

While I agree with some of what you say, I wanted to throw my own observations in the mix. I have been going to/competing in DCA since 1985. I actually got involved after seeing the Garfield Cadets and Spirit of Atlanta in 1984 at a DCI show. I have marched/taught DCA and DCI corps ever since. I have attended numerous championships for both circuits, so I think I also have a fairly broad perspective on the activity. I'll number my observations to match yours...

1. Both DCA and DCI have had corps over the years that have stretched the limits musically. Many other corps stay much more in the average fan's "musical comfort zone". While there were a few years that many of the DCI corps played very obscure music, the vast majority of drum corps shows that I have seen have used great source material for their shows. There has to be a constant exploration of new material or this activity would have dried up decades ago. Someone has to keep looking for the next "Malaguena", "Channel One Suite" or even "Appalachian Spring" for that matter. If that wasn't happening, the activity would become stagnant and die off quickly.

2. I have found some corps use amplification and electronics well, adding to the effect of their shows, while others either overdo it or don't integrate them well into the overall ensemble. Big Bands began "miking" their soloists as soon as they were able, to allow them to be heard over the roar of the band without having to blow their heads off just to be heard. The trumpet soloists of today can play just as loud and high as their predecessors, but nowadays, they are playing over top of a 150 member corps.

3. As a staff member, I have a love/hate relationship with props (as we usually have to drag them around all season!) However, when used well, they really add to the overall show. Some people love Broadway shows just for the props and sets, others hardly even notice them. Either way, they are here to stay in both circuits, so it's kind of a non-issue at this point.

4. "The fans of the DCA corps are more mature. The crowd was not full of high school band students." I can't imagine how this is a good thing, unless of course, you just don't like to be around teenagers (which is perfectly understandable ;>) DCA corps know that they must reach out to attract today's high school & college band students or they will go away quickly. If your fan base is too "mature" and you are not attracting young people...well, I'm sure you can see where this would quickly lead.

5. "I was surprised to find out that the upper deck of the stadium was not utilized for seat sales." ME TOO, although I'm sure there was a reason for it that we don't know about, hopefully a good one.

6. I agree that DCA corps are not afraid to play loud. Heck, some of them would even be confused by that statement. "Why would anyone be AFRAID to play loud?!? :blink:" However, I don't agree that DCI corps don't also have many moments when they play loud. Really loud. And in a some cases REALLY, REALLY REALLY LOUD!!! To quote a well known DCI brass guru, "We're going to play this part really loud. People seem to like Really Loud."

As for attendance, this is something that all live arts events are dealing with over the last decade or so. Those of us that claim to be "Supporters of the Arts" have got to help by going to as many events as we can, and more importantly, bring a new person or two (or six) with us. Go to a DCA show next year and take your kids or someone else's kids for that matter. Talk to the local band director and see if any kids would want tickets to a drum corps show if you can afford to do this. Spread the word about this cool, unique thing we call drum corps. I see no reason that both DCA and DCI couldn't dramatically increase their attendance if the current fans made an effort to do so.







I have been a drum corps fan since I saw my first McCormick how to marching video in the fall of 1975. I went to my firstDCI contest in Atlanta, GA in 1976. I have attended 3 DCI Championships (1980,1984 and 2000). I have a minor in music and I wrote for Drum Corps World from 1983-1996. With all of that drum corps fan experience up until last night I had never seen a DCA corps live. So here are some random observations:
1) The DCA corps are more fun to watch. They haven't got caught up in all the "I must play music the audience may not understand".
2) The DCA corps are not electronic junkies. My observations is the DCI corps have lost their way in the electronics. If I want to hear an electric piano I have plenty of Chick Corea CD's I can listen to at home. I go to a drum corps contest to hear brass, percussion, not MIDI music. The Blue Devils this year used mics for their soloist--I had no problem hearing any of the non-micro phoned DCA corps this evening.
3)The DCA Corps were not hung up on props. I know some of the DCA corps this year used props, but all the ones I saw were tastefully done, fit in the show and were not covering up for some lack of imagination drill design.
4) The fans of the DCA corps are more mature. The crowd was not full of high school band students.
5) I was surprised to find out that the upper deck of the stadium was not utilized for seat sales. I actually thought my ticket was in the second deck only to find myself considerably lower in the stands.
6) The DCA corps are not afraid to play loud. Nothing stirs up an audience like pure impact volume. Many of the DCI corps have cut back their volume level to sound more musical....bad trade. I don't expect a drum corps to sound like the London Symphony Orchestra.

I guess the biggest surprise was the size of the crowd. The crowd was a fraction of what I saw at any of the DCI championships I have attended. The DCA corps are great! Many DCI fans maybe missing out on the best half of the activity. After the second open class corps of the evening I was wondering why I still followed DCI when this experience was so much better. The good news is I don't need to choose between the two halves of drum corps, but if I had to make a choice I would attend DCA first. I am already looking forward to attending next year.
Scott Smith


Dan McGrogan

2004-2007, 2009-2014 Buccaneers Brass Staff
2008 Caballeros Brass Staff
1998, 2000-2003 Bushwackers Brass Staff
1997-1999 Westshoremen Brass Staff
1993-1997 Golden Lancers Brass Staff
1985-1992 Steel City Ambassadors

#4 OldManDrumCorps

OldManDrumCorps

    DCP Veteran

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 217 posts

Posted 03 September 2012 - 09:08 PM

#4 is actually a bit of a problem. Those younger fans and their parents' wallets are what DCA is in desperate need of right now.

#5 dcpincollector

dcpincollector

    DCP Veteran

  • Inactive/Closed
  • PipPipPip
  • 122 posts

Posted 03 September 2012 - 10:35 PM

I watched the DCA semi-finals for the first time on the internet. I have been a DCI fan since 1968, but have only attended a couple of DCA shows when I was a kid (early 70's). I enjoyed watching the corps. It was a great day. I also would like to give my opinions on what I saw.

The biggest thing I noticed is how much DCI and DCA are more alike than they are different.

Music:

For the most part (BD and Governaires are exceptions) they all play the same type music. DCA seems to emphasize volume and "screamers" over quality of sound and blend, but this doesn't change the choice of music. I was really kind of shocked at how much the music was the same after all of the talk on the forums as to how the DCA corps play different music.

Now that DCA also includes recorded voice (I was shocked when I heard this in MB) it is clear that they also are moving toward the use of electronics. This is always the big issue when there are arguments between supporters of the two circuits. As they (DCI and DCA) move closer and closer together this will become less of an issue and electronics will also be allowed to be used in DCA. The designers and composers in DCA will see that they are being used to great effect in DCI. I would be the first to admit that their use has been an issue in DCI, but the corps are learning how to use them well and every year they are finding the best way to utilize them to maximum effect. Are they ever used badly? Yes!! But I have been encouraged that every year it gets better and they really do add to the musical effect IMO.

Drums

Batteries in the top DCA corps are comparable to the DCI lines. If they were to practice as much as the DCI they would be right there. The DCA corps are not as well advanced in the pit, but the top few DCA corps are in the ball park. Overall I was very impressed with the top DCA lines.

Bugles

DCI horns lines are much better, but I think that a lot of this has to do with practice time. Given 8 - 10 hours of practce every day, DCA lines would be comparable. The sound quality and blend probably would also improve with added practice. DCI horn charts are more difficult but I think that this also is because of the weekend nature of DCA.

Guard

Here is where one of the big differences is seen. There is no comparison. DCI guards are much better.

Visual

This to me is the biggest difference. It probably also is because of the practice time limitation, but DCI is much more advanced in visual design. There really is no comparison here.

Overall I really liked the show and hope to attend more of them in person in the future.

I hold to my original statement that DCI and DCA are more alike then they are different.

With DCA and DCI having more synergy (webcasts, ticketing etc),I think that eventually they will merge for the good of all drum corps. With so few corps it would help in many areas to combine the efforts of both groups. This would help all of the corps.

I will not follow this thread and will not respond to other posts. I normally do not post any more. I just wanted to state my opinions.

#6 scottgordon

scottgordon

    DCP Veteran

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 515 posts

Posted 04 September 2012 - 12:38 AM

To the original poster... I too saw my first DCI contest in about 1975, and was an active fan for about 30 years. A couple of years ago, I too jumped ship (electronics turned me completely off, sorry to say) and I had the exact same observations as you after attending my first DCA finals. I agree with your post 100%.

#7 scottgordon

scottgordon

    DCP Veteran

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 515 posts

Posted 04 September 2012 - 12:42 AM

Now that DCA also includes recorded voice (I was shocked when I heard this in MB) it is clear that they also are moving toward the use of electronics.

You could be right, that electronics is inevitable. But wasn't MB's use only during the warmup period, and not during the actual judged portion of the show? I was surprised to hear it too, but it stopped before their actual show started.

#8 TomPeashey

TomPeashey

    DCP Fanatic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,082 posts

Posted 04 September 2012 - 12:51 AM

Just in case you weren't there and are saying "YIKES, electronics in DCA?"

DCI type electronics is NOT legal in DCA... there is no electronic's rules change... (although this is a rules congress year - I'm sure it will come up again, but I'm willing to bet it will again not even make it out of caucus for a vote... dca corps simply can't afford the extra cost among other things)

However, in the pre-show, before the judged 10 to 12 minutes... it has for a long time to been legal to use recorded music or amplified voice or just sound effects - think back to Empire of the 90's with their own announcer... but if you do this ... it must be with YOUR equipment and it must stop when the judging starts...

MBI during their pre-show broadcast mood setting audio from the Bonnie and Clyde vehicle... all very tasteful and well done...

Tom Peashey author of I Am Woman: The Dani Affair, Escape from Iran and Madam President 
for information: www.thedanichronicles.com

World Drum Corps Hall of Fame
Rochester Crusaders Hall of Fame
Syracuse Brigadiers Alumni Lifetime Membership Award
Northeast Color Guard Circuit Hall of Fame
Pennsylvania Drum Corps Hall of Fame (Honorary)
tpeashey@rochester.rr.com
Cell: 585-957-5722


#9 Kamarag

Kamarag

    DCP Fanatic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,072 posts

Posted 04 September 2012 - 01:37 AM

DCI type electronics is NOT legal in DCA... there is no electronic's rules change... (although this is a rules congress year - I'm sure it will come up again, but I'm willing to bet it will again not even make it out of caucus for a vote... dca corps simply can't afford the extra cost among other things)


I'll tell you what a nice compromise would be that would improve things DRASTICALLY and yet keep things "A&E free" during the judged performances...

Have a PA set up at the field level (or allow the corps to bring one) that facilitated any interaction with the crowd that the drum major, or other designee, may have. Drum majors in DCA (David Bruni and John Mayer in particular, among others) are almost impossible to hear. Where I sat we heard almost nothing. Wouldn't it be cool to have a hand-held or headset mic that a DM could wear to make that work better?

I can tell you that it would have helped several corps immensely. I will also say that I do wish DCA would allow amplification and digital signal processing of pit instruments only. Stuff like Kidsgrove's fantastic djimbe grooves would come across so much better...

I think DCA will evolve the rules in this area. I do know that DCA corps would show a good deal more creativity in their use than the DCI folks do. They tend to play it safe in a lot of ways. As for the expense, it's not nearly as expensive as most people thing to do electronics right.

Edited by Kamarag, 04 September 2012 - 01:37 AM.

John Adcock

Alumnus, Blue Devils, Suncoast Sound &
Reading Buccaneers

"If it's too loud, you're too old."

#10 KeithHall

KeithHall

    DCP Fanatic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,653 posts

Posted 04 September 2012 - 06:07 AM

John, wouldn't that set up for the use of electronics in the future? I am hoping that DCI decides enough is enough and goes back to the old way.



I'll tell you what a nice compromise would be that would improve things DRASTICALLY and yet keep things "A&E free" during the judged performances...

Have a PA set up at the field level (or allow the corps to bring one) that facilitated any interaction with the crowd that the drum major, or other designee, may have. Drum majors in DCA (David Bruni and John Mayer in particular, among others) are almost impossible to hear. Where I sat we heard almost nothing. Wouldn't it be cool to have a hand-held or headset mic that a DM could wear to make that work better?

I can tell you that it would have helped several corps immensely. I will also say that I do wish DCA would allow amplification and digital signal processing of pit instruments only. Stuff like Kidsgrove's fantastic djimbe grooves would come across so much better...

I think DCA will evolve the rules in this area. I do know that DCA corps would show a good deal more creativity in their use than the DCI folks do. They tend to play it safe in a lot of ways. As for the expense, it's not nearly as expensive as most people thing to do electronics right.


Keith Hall

What is Hip?




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Please review Drum Corps Planet's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
The contents of this site are copyright (C) 2005-2010 DCP Partners, LLC and all rights are reserved. Requests for use may be directed to the DCP Office.
Drum Corps Planet™ and the DCP logo are trademarks of DCP Partners, LLC. All rights reserved. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.