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Judging Amplification and Electronics

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Michael,

There is substantial discussion of the directionality of the A&E system's sound pointed at the press box, and that, as a result, a the great number of fans sitting outside that "cone" of sound who don't receive the full performance effect.

(An idea that came to me is to get the judges out of the press box and, instead, randomly spread out in the stadium among the fans. I envision those "voice cone" masks used by court stenographers so as to not disturb his neighbors as the judge records his comments.)

What realistic solutions have been discussed to a) reduce the over-blaring effect in the lower rows of the stadium, and b) to include and re-engage those fans outside the 40 yard line back into the show's full presentation?

Thanks in advance.

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Performance Caption

The percussion judges may pay the most attention in performance, but if the synth affects the horn sound, for good or ill, you will hear from the horn judges as well. In some ways, it may actually be considered double-jeopardy, if anything. The performers are evaluated regarding elements like how they strike the keyboard, or the performance techniques they display within the context of Drum Corps. Most of our judges have some piano keyboard training, and are familiar with the evaluation of that type of contribution from their concert and winter competitive seasons.

Fair enough. Many thanks for the extended clarification!

Mike

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Thank you for the clarifications! A much more satisfying response with both the additional responses.

Additional Response Provided for Further Clarification

Regarding Synthesizers – Seldom are a synth players exclusively on synth for the entire performance...

General Effect Caption

That said, with synth, which is so versatile, adjudication is a function of how the instrument is used as a component within the musical ensemble. For example, if what we're hearing are atmospheric sounds, say, waves at the shore, we might feel it is more about GE. Formerly, we might have used a cymbal and gong, or thundersheet for that effect, and would have rewarded it in the same caption.

Ensemble Caption

Even then, if the synth ran over the top of some delicate celeste playing, or a backfield trumpet solo, the ensemble judges are going to take note. If the synth players are adding a part or voicing to the piece being performed, they will be evaluated similarly to any front ensemble instrumentalists. Some of the questions asked by the adjudicator would be along the lines of, "Are they part of ensemble cohesiveness, is their tone quality appropriate, are they aware of balance and blend?"

Performance Caption

The percussion judges may pay the most attention in performance, but if the synth affects the horn sound, for good or ill, you will hear from the horn judges as well. In some ways, it may actually be considered double-jeopardy, if anything. The performers are evaluated regarding elements like how they strike the keyboard, or the performance techniques they display within the context of Drum Corps. Most of our judges have some piano keyboard training, and are familiar with the evaluation of that type of contribution from their concert and winter competitive seasons.

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Additional Response Provided for Further Clarification

Regarding Synthesizers – Seldom are a synth players exclusively on synth for the entire performance...

General Effect Caption

That said, with synth, which is so versatile, adjudication is a function of how the instrument is used as a component within the musical ensemble. For example, if what we're hearing are atmospheric sounds, say, waves at the shore, we might feel it is more about GE. Formerly, we might have used a cymbal and gong, or thundersheet for that effect, and would have rewarded it in the same caption.

Ensemble Caption

Even then, if the synth ran over the top of some delicate celeste playing, or a backfield trumpet solo, the ensemble judges are going to take note. If the synth players are adding a part or voicing to the piece being performed, they will be evaluated similarly to any front ensemble instrumentalists. Some of the questions asked by the adjudicator would be along the lines of, "Are they part of ensemble cohesiveness, is their tone quality appropriate, are they aware of balance and blend?"

Performance Caption

The percussion judges may pay the most attention in performance, but if the synth affects the horn sound, for good or ill, you will hear from the horn judges as well. In some ways, it may actually be considered double-jeopardy, if anything. The performers are evaluated regarding elements like how they strike the keyboard, or the performance techniques they display within the context of Drum Corps. Most of our judges have some piano keyboard training, and are familiar with the evaluation of that type of contribution from their concert and winter competitive seasons.

ok. sounds good. I have my doubts as to ensemble ( on how much of a pass the balance issues get in the numbers) but I'm willing to be open minded

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The problem I have, and always have had, is that electronic sound reproduction (which is judged and has a bearing on scoring outcome) is controlled by an "adult non-corps member"; which goes directly against the philosophy that only the youth performers can control performance aspects of the show which are judged.

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The problem I have, and always have had, is that electronic sound reproduction (which is judged and has a bearing on scoring outcome) is controlled by an "adult non-corps member"; which goes directly against the philosophy that only the youth performers can control performance aspects of the show which are judged.

Dangit Stu, I did it again! Consider my green plussie as a red negative, please. (I am in agreement with Stu's point. And it's a point I've made a few times myself in threds since that rule passed.)

Secondly, I would like to know what the DCI judges' stance is on synthesizer "boosting" a hornline's impact. The last thing I enjoy is straining to hear the hornline in an impact moment. But that is exactly what happened in at least one show that I saw in 2009, specifically (multiple times that year, with seats high up and on or near the 50). It was impossible for me to get a read on the balance and blend of the horns because of the synthesized contribution.

Is that good GE? (because the impact could be perceived as louder and more intense)

Or, is it bad ensemble? (because of the balance issue I mentioned above)

Or, is it both?

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I don't think that the explanation regarding where the synth fits in the performance caption is clear. Yes, it is a percussion instrument. If brass performance can consider it, however, where does that leave the synth? I understand that judges are human and considerations other than their captions may sneak in here and there, but I don't think that should be the accepted method. It really seems like the further development of A&E necessitates permanently adding the second percussion judge in the box. Make sure percussion performance evaluates all percussion. GE and music ensemble may get it, although I haven't been satisfied with electronic balance since it began, but if the performance captions bleed, what is the point of separate percussion and brass sheets? I don't think it is acceptable to allow both performance captions to consider the synth merely because most of the judges have some piano keyboard training.

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I was near the press box at finals last year, looking at the recaps of a certain third place corps, it was not judged in ensemble but did get judged in GE

No reasonable person could considered that balanced it drowned out the bleeding hornline at points and had fans screaming at the sound guy and blew my ears out for three days

I should meter it next year and submit my result to OSHA

Edited by cowtown
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I was near the press box at finals last year, looking at the recaps of a certain third place corps, it was not judged in ensemble but did get judged in GE

No reasonable person could considered that balanced – it drowned out the bleeding hornline at points and had fans screaming at the sound guy and blew my ears out for three days

I should meter it next year and submit my result to OSHA

So you can discern the specific criteria of a performance judge's analysis just by sitting in the press box area and then seeing a recap? What are the voice recordings for, then. Why aren't you judging?

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I think we should deploy Occam's razor here.

The simplest solution to all this angst is to eliminate the amps altogether. Besides creating all this hand-wringing, they attract no new fans and drive some away.

Unplug drum corps - for the love of God......

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