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DCIfan04

Music Composition, Narrative, & Memory

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Generally speaking, has music composition and the quality of narratives they form with the audience strengthened or weakened in recent years as compared to years prior? Why?

OPINION: (Again, GENERALLY speaking...) It seems that in recent years the growing appeal of creating exciting visual moments has become such a driving factor in show design that the aural narratives of music composition has taken more of supportive role. (Perhaps this has developed due to evolving judging systems and pursuit to design a show that will 'win' GE and Visual captions?)

To contrast, it seems that shows from the 90's and early/mid 2000's had more musical accessibility due to stronger musical composition/form/melody and thus, stronger emotional memory.

Personally, my experience of shows from the 1990's and early/mid 2000's is that there still remains such a strong emotional connection primary through the musical story that those shows conveyed. The music told a powerful story, and the story still connects years later through through memory.

After attending several shows from recent years (though being very impressed with the incredibly high levels of performance & execution) I find myself struggling to take with me something memorable and emotional. (Again, speaking GENERALLY...there always seems to be several shows each year that would not fall into this category).

Either way you look at it, the blend of aural and visual is indeed a dynamic and beautiful relationship in any given show.

Thoughts?

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I don't know enough about drum corps to address your question, so would ask you to apply your question in a more specific manner.

Blue Knight's 2011 and 2012 shows have some distinct differences and some similarities. How would you compare each of them in light of your opinion.

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Technique and technical aspects superseded the emotional aspects of the music. It has been altered for the sake of competition because "fast runs" and "fast marching" are easier to judge than technically brilliant "Slow" "Soft" and "Emotional". Those brilliant slow soft moments are what make us remember the fast aggressive.

The contrast moments have also been shortened in length so there are more of them during an already short show - this for the sake of competition. The longer moments tend to build memory patterns.

I liked being able to walk away whistling the shows that stuck in my head.

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Technique and technical aspects superseded the emotional aspects of the music. It has been altered for the sake of competition because "fast runs" and "fast marching" are easier to judge than technically brilliant "Slow" "Soft" and "Emotional". Those brilliant slow soft moments are what make us remember the fast aggressive.

The contrast moments have also been shortened in length so there are more of them during an already short show - this for the sake of competition. The longer moments tend to build memory patterns.

It is not all fast marching these days, though there is plenty of it. And, I don't see the modern shows being designed as they are to make it easier to judge, not at all. There are fast and emotional spots as well as slow and emotional spots...and all sorts of stuff in between.

I do agree on one thing...the timing between contrasting moments has shrunk. I don't see this as a bad thing, to me it is just a "thing".

I liked being able to walk away whistling the shows that stuck in my head.

for me, I don't care about that aspect at all. I come to shows to see great music and movement performed by amazing young performers.

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Too much of the music has been "edited" for reasons other than musical; to fit a drill move, to highlight a visual moment, to open up some space for a percussion break; because it's "hard" and we just don't want to take the time to clean it, etc., etc. You can't just put a percussion break between measures 5 and 6 of an 8 bar musical phrase, or "just add a measure" (as I have been told numerous times), and not destroy the phrasing and line of a music work. Also the "baseball bat" theory of design as I call it (a "moment" every 20 to 30 seconds) destroys the ability to actually build a phrase and to use all of the sections of a piece that have been carefully developed by a composer who is a true genius. As great as many of our present day arrangers are, most are not Mozart or Shostakovitch. You do have to edit for time and the players at hand, but totally destroying the musical architecture of a piece results in music that does not truly connect emotionally with the audience.

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It is not all fast marching these days, though there is plenty of it. And, I don't see the modern shows being designed as they are to make it easier to judge, not at all. There are fast and emotional spots as well as slow and emotional spots...and all sorts of stuff in between.

I do agree on one thing...the timing between contrasting moments has shrunk. I don't see this as a bad thing, to me it is just a "thing".

for me, I don't care about that aspect at all. I come to shows to see great music and movement performed by amazing young performers.

I guess I come at it a little differently.

I guess easier to judge might not be the correct term or way to say it. Easier to read maybe or less thought provoking. Not allowing the judges to read between the lines. Putting All the ideas out there rather than leaving a little for creative imagination. The shows end up being a little "choppy" and perception is that they are trying to get technical elements in just for the sake of technical elements. That may just be a perception.

As for remembering shows, I look at it straight from the eyes of my background... ADVERTISING. I have to walk away with the memory or it did not sell their product. It is a proven fact that 2 minute ads sell better than 30 second ads and combine that over a ten minute period of time just compare remembering twenty 30 second ads to four or five 2-2 1/2 minute ads. This is the difference between todays show architecture and yesterdays show architecture. Younger generations might like this better - they are bombarded with the latest twitter tweet and other types of unfocused advertising.

This actually a reason that "theme" shows work so well because you can tie it all together with a consistent melody. SCVs Phantom is a great example - We all still have that melody stuck in our head.

What is happening is that consistent melody is now getting chopped up and they are tying the theme together with visuals. Visuals do not stick in the memory the same as music - Cant remember the study but it is a reason that "jingles" are used so often. It is also the reason your mac or pc has a certain chime when it is turned on. Visual cues sometimes get missed but audible is always caught by your memory.

This is the same reason people tend to revisit shows (which I am actually not a fan) but using an overlying melody from older years tying a modern corps to their past. I think we saw this more up to the year 2000. That is actually good because it builds "branding" but if not done well, it can be cheesy.

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Too much of the music has been "edited" for reasons other than musical; to fit a drill move, to highlight a visual moment, to open up some space for a percussion break; because it's "hard" and we just don't want to take the time to clean it, etc., etc. You can't just put a percussion break between measures 5 and 6 of an 8 bar musical phrase, or "just add a measure" (as I have been told numerous times), and not destroy the phrasing and line of a music work. Also the "baseball bat" theory of design as I call it (a "moment" every 20 to 30 seconds) destroys the ability to actually build a phrase and to use all of the sections of a piece that have been carefully developed by a composer who is a true genius. As great as many of our present day arrangers are, most are not Mozart or Shostakovitch. You do have to edit for time and the players at hand, but totally destroying the musical architecture of a piece results in music that does not truly connect emotionally with the audience.

BINGO... this is exactly what I am talking about.

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