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Marching Cymbals

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I'm not sure I see the merit in this question.

Surely no WC corps would choose to do anything that would knowingly put them at a disadvantage with the judges... marching cymbals or otherwise?

It is not a matter of doing something that places them at a disadvantage, but a matter of the old phrase keeping up with the Jones' within the context of going after the ring. If corps xyx does something (either additive or subtractive) and they are seemingly rewarded by the judging community while the other corps' are left behind, the other corps' tend to follow suit. Madison, up until last year, and SCV have kept their cymbal lines for sake of identity; but one also has to look at when was the last time either of those corps took home a medal. That is why to me it will be very interesting to see what Paul Rennick does at SCV concerning the cymbal line. If he keeps the cymbal line and SCV wins the Sanford trophy you might see more lines crop up in other corps' in the years that follow; if he axes the cymbal line, then it will be an indication that the lines are a disadvantage in the current judging climate.

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if he axes the cymbal line, I think he's asking for a pr nightmare.

SCV did last bring home the Sanford award in 04

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if he axes the cymbal line, I think he's asking for a pr nightmare.

SCV did last bring home the Sanford award in 04

> if he axes the cymbal line, I think he's asking for a pr nightmare.

I agree on both PR accounts (Public Relations and Phantom Regiment)

> SCV did last bring home the Sanford award in 04

True; and I am "not" stating that the judging community is completely preventing a percussion section with a cymbal line from taking home the Sanford; but '04 was seven seasons ago, Madison did axe their cymbal line last year, and more corps' are going to experimental esoteric sounds in the front ensemble to, as I put it, keep up with the Jones'.

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trust me, i'm not defending the axing of cymbal lines.

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trust me, i'm not defending the axing of cymbal lines.

I did not mean to imply that you were defending the axing of cymbal lines; sorry if it came across that way! It just seems to me to be an issue of where the priorities are at within the design staff of each corps'.: Go for the score or go for the audience. Apparently it is becoming increasingly more difficult to go for both at the same time within the current judging climate.

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Rennick has already stated outright in an interview that SCV's keeping the cymbals. No need to worry.

And as to the limited tambor thing...yes, that's true, but that argument could be extended to all marching percussion, and really, drum corps in general. The activity is an absurdity (not that it isn't awesome regardless). We aren't trying to achieve solely the best sound possible. If we were, we would be in a concert hall.

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It is not a matter of doing something that places them at a disadvantage, but a matter of the old phrase keeping up with the Jones' within the context of going after the ring. If corps xyx does something (either additive or subtractive) and they are seemingly rewarded by the judging community while the other corps' are left behind, the other corps' tend to follow suit. Madison, up until last year, and SCV have kept their cymbal lines for sake of identity; but one also has to look at when was the last time either of those corps took home a medal. That is why to me it will be very interesting to see what Paul Rennick does at SCV concerning the cymbal line. If he keeps the cymbal line and SCV wins the Sanford trophy you might see more lines crop up in other corps' in the years that follow; if he axes the cymbal line, then it will be an indication that the lines are a disadvantage in the current judging climate.

There’s no arguing over what you say about recent medal winning corps not having cymbal lines. There definitely is a trend amongst WC corps towards not having a cymbal line. The reason why I can’t see the merit in this question is because it seems to have grown from fan based paranoia rather than pure simple logic.

The fact that some corps have cymbal lines and some do not suggests to me that this isn’t a judging issue. All it tells me is some corps quite like the tradition of having a cymbal line and others think the 4 extra bodies could be better utilized elsewhere… pit, brass or guard.

Surely a corps percussion staff will know via the critiques how the current crop of percussion judges view cymbal lines, the corps staff must know if having a cymbal line puts them at a competitive disadvantage? If this having or not having a cymbal line is a genuine issue for the corps, then they will be posing this question to the judges… and they will change accordingly.

From a musical point of view I personally don't see the need for them but from a visual point of view I'd love to see more corps have them because they can look amazing!

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There’s no arguing over what you say about recent medal winning corps not having cymbal lines. There definitely is a trend amongst WC corps towards not having a cymbal line. The reason why I can’t see the merit in this question is because it seems to have grown from fan based paranoia rather than pure simple logic.

The fact that some corps have cymbal lines and some do not suggests to me that this isn’t a judging issue. All it tells me is some corps quite like the tradition of having a cymbal line and others think the 4 extra bodies could be better utilized elsewhere… pit, brass or guard.

Surely a corps percussion staff will know via the critiques how the current crop of percussion judges view cymbal lines, the corps staff must know if having a cymbal line puts them at a competitive disadvantage? If this having or not having a cymbal line is a genuine issue for the corps, then they will be posing this question to the judges… and they will change accordingly.

From a musical point of view I personally don't see the need for them but from a visual point of view I'd love to see more corps have them because they can look amazing!

> From a musical point of view I personally don't see the need for them

Your musical opinion was echoed by Madison Scouts in 2010 when the corps decided to axe the actual "percussion player" based cymbal line.

> I'd love to see more corps have them because they can look amazing!

Your visual opinion was also echoed by Madison 2010 because in the middle of the show the corps had the "color guard" pick up a plethora of cymbals.

> Surely a corps percussion staff will know via the critiques how the current crop of percussion judges view cymbal lines, the corps staff must know if having a cymbal line puts them at a competitive disadvantage? If this having or not having a cymbal line is a genuine issue for the corps, then they will be posing this question to the judges… and they will change accordingly.

This Madison 2010 situation was "not" one of Percussion Design but much more of a Visual Design. Apparently, the Madison design team felt intricate dance movement by the guard with occasional crashes (a la 'Stomp' type approach) was deemed to be more beneficial to enhance their show than having traditional cymbal line percussionists attempt the same impact.

Whether or not this design situation was a good decision or devalued/disrespected an actual "percussion player" oriented cymbal line is a matter of opinion.

Edited by Stu

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There's actually been no rubric change, and cymbals are still judged, like any other voice, for what they can contribute to the show, and how well they do that.

Ok, but then the very next sentence says:

Marching crash cymbals can have a somewhat limited usefulness musically, compared to the wide variety of cymbal sounds and metallic timbres we can get from the front ensemble.

That is a statement of opinion, not of fact. And if that is the prevailing opinion that judges currently hold, then there IS in effect a rubric change, and so it is no wonder that cymbal lines are disappearing.

Personally, I have never heard suspended pit cymbals produce nearly the variety of cymbal sounds heard from a typical marching cymbal line. The vast majority of cymbal sounds emanating from the pit are mallet swells, which occur almost continuously in modern shows (and in my opinion are used excessively).

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Your visual opinion was also echoed by Madison 2010 because in the middle of the show the corps had the "color guard" pick up a plethora of cymbals.

Without doubt one of the highlights from LOS this year!

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