Roundtable Editor

Judging Amplification and Electronics

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I'm not certain whether the DCI adjudicators have held a specific seminar about these issues, but judge coordinator John Phillips did ask me to supply copies for all his music people. This happened right after their pre-season conference, so the subject must have been addressed there.

I expect he and I will follow up in the next few weeks, and I may do some sort of group presentation or webinar for the adjudicators.

The book will at least provide you with the information to which they have access.

it had a ton of info, and I actually knew some of it! I have forwarded it to the head of the band circuit I judge in

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I think all groups have too much volume coming from the pit. It was worse in person than listening via stream, but maybe that was because of where I was sitting (17 rows up on the 45). I've always felt that pit instrumentation is meant to enhance the music, not take over from the horns as the primary voice. It may be that parts of classical music meant to be played on piano are being played by 5 pit instruments at once.

As a side note, the top volume level of horn lines is a lot less than it used to be, and it's not just the switch from G to Bb horns. We amped up the pit, probably too much, and the horns lost their top end, which makes for a problem. I listened to the final 20 seconds of 2014 BD over and over and I kept waiting for that extra gear from the horns, but it never came.

17 rows up on the 45 puts you in the firing line...amps are usually aimed right at you

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These are some of the standards for professional sound reinforcement. Drum corps and the best marching bands aspire to these levels in movement and instrument mastery, but even the best are a long way from "professional" at the mixing console.

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Mike

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17 rows up on the 45 puts you in the firing line...amps are usually aimed right at you

I know that now! It used to put you right in the wheelhouse of the hornline, but I don't know that I ever felt like I got "hit in the face" like that this year. I think Crown got me two or three times, and Blue Devils maybe once, but no one made me reach for the earplugs the way Madison or Spirit used to. :wow::wow::wow::wow:

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I must say I am very encouraged by what I heard last night at Stanford.

All corps have greatly improved their approach to sound reinforcement. Overall, the balance and blend between acoustic sound and electronics is far better than it has been in recent years.

Kudos to the tech teams.

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I think Crown got me two or three times, and Blue Devils maybe once, but no one made me reach for the earplugs the way Madison or Spirit used to. :wow::wow::wow::wow:

For all of you born too late to have heard 1970s-1980s brass lines live, I wish I could invent a time machine and take all of you back to that time so you could experience it yourselves. Recordings and YouTube do not do those great lines justice! While the majority of brass arrangements in modern drum corps are far better than those 30-40 years ago, the arrangements by Jim Prime, Ray Baumgardt, Wayne Downey, and especially the great Jim Ott stand the test of time. My ear is pretty good for these things and while Carolina Crown can crank out the power today, even Crown at fff can't match the volume of the old G bugle lines.

Let me clear something up, too: The old G bugle lines did not sound crass. They were just as transparent as today's Bb/F lines but with a throatier tone with more "core" to the overall sound. The Bb/F horns are much better made -- and mouthpiece technology has improved infinity-fold over the decades -- and as I said arrangers are overall better than ever so in many ways today's brass lines might be the best in DCI history.

With that being said, the individual talent of the brass soloists from the 1970s and 1980s has never been matched since!

Edited by ThirdValvesAreForWimps
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Very easy answer..... I hate it!!!!

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Great line from David Edelstein's review of Suicide Squad (in New York magazine):

"Promiscuous CGI makes even the miraculous seem ho-hum."

That's how I often feel about drum corps electronics (and sometimes about amplification).

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Great line from David Edelstein's review of Suicide Squad (in New York magazine):

"Promiscuous CGI makes even the miraculous seem ho-hum."

That's how I often feel about drum corps electronics (and sometimes about amplification).

Amplification is great to the point that it allows someone to perform a pit instrument accurately without having to worry about banging on it loud enough to project the sound up to the pressbox. When it is used to employ elements that don't really work/fit onto the field and instead are toys used by staff/directors to pretend they are "pushing their artistic boundaries", it fails miserably. To this day, I have not seen any use of electronics or other use of amplification that I thought justified having it on the field. Not once have I ever thought, "Now that is something amazing that makes me happy they've made this rule change..." I keep trying, because I am apparently a bit of a masochist, but nothing has convinced me yet.

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