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Marching Cymbals

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I replied to Scott's post about suspended cymbals in the pit, which never mentioned being able to use crash cymbals.

The difference of course is - like other drums and brass in a corps - a cymbal line can put those orchestral parts in motion.

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here's what it boils down to....

marching cymbal lines are the exact opposite of narration and electronics.

Narration and electronics have been executed horribly since it's inception. Horrible volumes, crackling sounds, and incredibly trite, sophomoric narration...and yet corps aren't (obviously) being punished for such. Corps directors have found out that there is NO way electonics can equal a negative, they use it. Even if it doesn't add anything, they know it's not going to be "punished" for being carried out poorly, so it's used.

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. 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.

This tells me how they feel about marching cymbal lines. Cymbal lines have no possible way to add a positive to a show, so they are not being used. All a marching cymbal line can do is produce a negative, and why write a show including marching cymbals, when there is no chance to add points to a show, and only has a chance to subtract points.

(broad brush here....) anything NEW is judged less harshly than anything "dino" in drum corps. The board and directors have to justify all the "changes for change sake" by not punishing the new stuff, even if a large portion of the fan base don't like the changes.

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I do too. and I know top names in the community that use the lame excuses seen here and in the thread in the main forums

Yep!!! So many of those sounds that " can be reproduced in the pit " are not at all the same sounds. Except for impacts where performers use hand cymbals for an " orchestral crash ", a stick or mallet to a suspended cymbal is nothing like hand held cymbal to cymbal crashes, sizzles, suctions, tings, etc... I mean man just plain physics... Maybe if some of those people were shown those sounds at a clinic put on by so good cymbal players I bet they would change their minds.

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I feel that a marching cymbal line is now purely a visual component similar to a flag. Cymbal sounds eminating from the pit ar far more musically appropriate. My own personal opinion is that cymbals positioned in the back half of the field cannot be heard. Furthermore, since they are accents and not part of the pulse of the ensemble, their sound appears to lag behind the rest of the musicians. This can be effective such as in the example of the Cavalier alumni corps closer "Somewhere/Rainbow" medley where they (I'm) way back on the number 2 side. Mostly, cymbals are drill dots and bits of flash. Remember that one of the last Cavalier cymbal lines wore guard uniforms.

Years ago I got the impression from Fiedler that he is not a fan of marching cymbals, but then again he is savy and he understands tradition more than most of us. It wouldn't surprise me if SCV brought up the subject of marching cymbals with Rennick during the pre-hire process.

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ah but marching cymbals can be used for pulse. See the Bucs in DCA and a variety of WGI lines...

and before you start that hooey about finals being inside, horns etc...hello, in indoor, it's a smaller space with a ton of plugged in keyboards...and synths...right in your face

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I feel that a marching cymbal line is now purely a visual component similar to a flag. Cymbal sounds eminating from the pit ar far more musically appropriate. My own personal opinion is that cymbals positioned in the back half of the field cannot be heard. Furthermore, since they are accents and not part of the pulse of the ensemble, their sound appears to lag behind the rest of the musicians. This can be effective such as in the example of the Cavalier alumni corps closer "Somewhere/Rainbow" medley where they (I'm) way back on the number 2 side. Mostly, cymbals are drill dots and bits of flash. Remember that one of the last Cavalier cymbal lines wore guard uniforms.

Years ago I got the impression from Fiedler that he is not a fan of marching cymbals, but then again he is savy and he understands tradition more than most of us. It wouldn't surprise me if SCV brought up the subject of marching cymbals with Rennick during the pre-hire process.

Um.......... This is not opinion it is fact... They can ge heard from " back " field although drill has evolved a lot now a days and I don't mean " accent " impact crashes. You can hear sizzles, slides, tings, and mp level crashes when the writer knows how to write for cymbals and uses the proper dybamics vs the horns or winds... That is a fact.

No disrespect to the Cavaliers but when you guys had a cymbal line the writing was only used for impact and not music coloring or rythmic texturing. That is the truth I have seen the videos and yes cymbal sound does cut through to the mikes..

I am not at all trying to be rude but you really can hear them. That's the " other " excuse haha! Oh well.....

Edited by spirit7698
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its easier to push a key/pad/button than it is to flip together :thumbdown: ..... in the cymbal world your iether awesome or your late. I'd say cymbal lines aren't going away otherwise i'm out of the job :blink:

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its easier to push a key/pad/button than it is to flip together :thumbdown: ..... in the cymbal world your iether awesome or your late. I'd say cymbal lines aren't going away otherwise i'm out of the job :blink:

Oh,Chinaman

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What do I think of this post? I am so glad you asked.

So, I have heard all the sides to this argument over the years. Similar threads about Cymbal lines have popped up many times.

This is what I would say to this....and this is all opinion.

You have to assess the value proposition. Simply put, you have to establish the need for marching cymbals; both musically and visually for both the ensemble/corps and the customer/audience. Then determine an approach to address the need. Is the approach a 4 member cymbal line, a 5 member cymbal line, or percussionists within the pit utilizing cymbals amongst the multitude of other instrumentation they can play additionally during the performance. Following the approaches to solve for the need you must determine the benefits per costs resulting from the selected approach. Meaning simply...pros and cons for each approach; i.e.; 5 member cymbal line takes 5 spots away from other sections, or marching cymbal lines bring unique visual opportunities no other section can offer. Finally, but certainly not the least important is the competitive set. Whats is the competition doing? Does having a cymbal line vs. not having one bring an advantage or disadvantage from the judging panel? My opinion say, no more than any other section, if marching cymbals are performed with excellence, which is how any other section would be judged. But the biggest argument for or against in my mind is how can a corps get the biggest "bang for the buck", get the most out of what they are allowed. A member who can also play marimba or aux percussion seems to be the answer...sadly.

The other piece of the puzzle that no one has mentioned is the arrangers. A unique study would be to look at a percussion arrangers history. Did they march in corps with cymbal lines? Are they accustomed to writing for cymbal lines? Do they understand how to write for them? It sounds easy...ya know, big crash on the impact points and less loud taps and such on softer moments....but it is not easy. I am not saying that the very talented crop of O Class or W Class percussion arranger cant do it, but perhaps some of them are just not used to it. Most arrangers are very accomplished musicians and arrangers writing on various levels from MS/HS level, to BOA and WGI/DCA/DCI, so I am certain they could if they wanted to, but just might not want to because they never have for drum corps before. Just something to consider. It will certainly be interesting to watch Madison and SCV this year.

Lastly, I want to mention that cymbal sections are fabulous for younger students who may not possess the skills to march in another section, but by touring for a year within the cymbal section they get a full immersion into the drum corps culture and can perhaps continue to learn the skills for the other sections of the corps. but beware, once the cymbal line gets in your blood....you might not want to ever march another instrument!

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Personally I think we need to lose the pit,(and electronics) and bring back marching EVERYTHING! Timpani, keyboard percussion, cymbals, etc....

As a former pit player, I love it, it's a great thing, and over the years the evolution of the pit has pretty much relegated the marching ensemble to the part that plays when the pit is taking a breather....

As a former marching timpanist, there's nothing like 4 guys in sync, and killing it!!! (27th Lancers comes to mind as the top of the food chain)

Anyway....

Now to the cymbal argument, YES the pit can provide various timbre's by switching cymbals, and in the pit situation, you CAN have several styles of orchestral cymbals that won't get ruined by a snare drummer CRANKING out a ride pattern (MY GOD what is that NEANDERTHAL doing to that pristine set of Viennese orchestral CYMBALS!!!!) You can have suspended cymbals, etc. Take that mindset to the marching cymbal player. Who says that they NEED to have the marching pie plates the whole show? Show me some innovation by starting with the marching pie plates, but MAYBE switching to china cymbals, or a different size, graduated sizes (like DCI of old where those shiny effects that started with a set of 16's ended with a set of 26's in a line! nice effect in the high stands!)

I don't see the cymbal as a "limited" piece of gear! A little thought is all you need to make it different!

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