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BigW

Big Sounds, Bigger Reflections

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Man, I come into this weekend just hoping for a Drum Corps Show. It became more than that. It really made me sit down and reflect very seriously on a lot of things- my Mom, Dad, Sister, my friends, my Brothers at Kappa Kappa Psi, my new and also very long friendships from this activity, I can go on. Maybe things didn't go for me the way I wanted to in my life, but the weekend reminded me how blessed I really am in so many ways and never to take those blessings for granted.

A lot of memories came back as well to me. I'll talk about all of those things as well as Big Sounds in Motion, which became almost incidental for everyone this weekend. They all weave about themselves.

I just wanted to get this started for now and keep thinking some more over cleaning up a bit and dinner. I just felt the need to start- and think some more about it all.

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Well, I'd better get crackin'.

I deliberately avoided reading Jeff's review until after I complete this so readers don't think I ripped him off- or, perhaps influenced my writing. I do look forward to reading it later, though. :satisfied:

I was pretty high up but on Side 2, 35 yard line, so I'll avoid worrying about tears and timing issues in this review.

Big Sounds is basically the Big Reunion for the Bucs family. Large blocks of seats are taken for families year after year. For those curious, Mabel was there with her husband, and her sisters, and was very excited that her grand-niece and nephew were marching that evening with the Bucs. She should have been. :satisfied:

The Bucs Banner Brass performed the National Anthem in their usual musical and quality way. I think I always mention how much I like the arrangement they use, but it's always worth mentioning to be fair to the arranger.

Bush started the contest in tidy fashion and did what it needed to do to keep the 10th seed heading into Prelims. The growth of this corps since Lehman has been noticed and appreciated here.

There's a much better sense of the intent of the design staff from the performer, and the moments are coming off well.

I loved the Flugel feature in Clair d'Lune.

The duts need to be made more inaudible in the stands at certain points, however.

The ELP segment was really snarky and splanky, and I was really into it. I love that sort of stuff, though I could tell Mabel wasn't really sure about it. It's okay. Not everyone likes snarky and splanky. :satisfied:

I think this season's been good for Bush. Now, just bring it home, get into the Sunday contest, and build for the future.

I think some readers believe all I see are pink clouds, happy rainbows and little ponies in Ponyville with DCA. I've truthfully liked everything I've seen to this point. Unfortunately.... my bad side is about to come out.

I'm going to preface the next section with the following statements to make myself clear.

I think Gold's performers are doing everything they can to perform the material given to them to the utmost of their ability and to sell the program in place. I hold them zero percent responsible for anything that's not kind in the rest of this section and I have a lot of respect for them- in fact, I believe they deserve a much better vehicle than has been provided.

The program was far more coherent, better-performed and complete, which it was not at Ijamsville.

When the brass is more static and staged more carefully, they have a pretty nice sound for 28 horns. The problem is that many of their similarly sized competitors are capable of sounding like 40-45 horns. There were some instances of stress in the upper voices and thinness and some bobbles, but still a decent job with the material given. The Battery and Front Ensemble were pretty tight, with some balance issues with the brass at times. Their guard was quite good as always.

The program does pick up some steam after the windows break, which is where the program finished at Ijamsville, but, I really and truly feel no sense of vector, direction, impetus, or engagement in the music book. None. It's the fault of the arranger, not the performer. The rest of the audience was trying really hard to be engaged and like the corps- the Big Sounds crowd is very supportive and kind, but I could feel that they just weren't with the corps at all.

Frankly, I have a disconnect with the 80 in Music Communication given, seeing as this was the most uncommunicative program I saw all summer at any contest. I feel it was incredibly generous. I know, I know, usually I feel pretty much in line with numbers, in this circumstance, I am not.

Gold has to do something about the Brass/Music books they present. I've felt this way for the last 4 seasons and keep hoping something will be done to create a more engaging and enjoyable music program for this corps to present but it's not been happening. I said much the same last season. It's very frustrating because the corps deserves better.

Look- I love the obtuse and more serious stuff. It's not that I expect a book that's something everyone knows or is comfortable with. Bush's closer is certainly not easy listening but I'm all in when they perform it now. I loved it last season when White Sabers did "Incantation and Dance", for Pete's sake. I'm not asking for the greatest hits of DCA here.

I sat at Chili's eating dinner Sunday after the contest mulling over this issue and while sitting there came up with three better show ideas for Gold than they've been doing.

-The music of Carlos Santana

-The music of Led Zepplin

-The music of Paul Simon

Nothing fancy for God's sake, nothing super-esoteric, intellectual...-- but a decent DCA brass arranger could take those and come up with some good, engaging, varied, and emotional moments for any corps. And.... create better moments for the visual design team that would, guess what-- showcase their guard far more then they have been showcased!

Please, do something so I don't have to be a PITA next season, please. I'd much rather discuss how much I enjoy a show and the corps. If things continue, I will keep beating the drum about it and beat it even harder. :mellow:

In contrast, the next competitor, the White Sabres, held the crowd's attention tightly throughout their run and grabbed them fast in their introduction.

I really respect how much their Guard's come on throughout the season- Much improvement, and their inspiring performances made me smile.

There were some feedback issues with the speakers which I figure will get addressed for Championship weekend.

The brass spin-turn and impact was exceptional, it signatured like a 48-52 horn impact. They played like a bunch of monsters. :worthy:

The program ending, well done. :biggrin: The White Sabres have really grown exponentially over the last several seasons. They deserve and have a lot of respect amongst the DCA hard-cores. I wore the Sabres shirt I picked up at an earlier show to Big Sounds and a lot of the folks thought I was on staff or something. It amused me a ton, and that's pretty flattering, especially for a drum corps bum like myself. I guess if you're not wearing a Bucs shirt to Big Sounds.... you must be with that corps. :blush:

The Cabs keep growing in power and strength. The links between the opening phrases were wonderful in the opening segment, and the pace in "Red", nice, the sound very full.

Look in "White" for the BFA and just sit back and listen. It's a wonderfully tasty moment.

There were some subwoofer issues- my guess is that humidity was playing games with a few of the competitor's sound systems at Big Sounds.

The percussion feature was dashing and aggressive things were really happening. I like the Cabs' Battery- they have a real Zorro-swinging-from-the-chandelier vibe to them, and it stirs up and sets up the audience for the big brass entrances.

I do think the brass section's capable of some more tweaks and nuance for Championship weekend which will make them even more tasty and exciting.

The 5/4 ending, well done, the Cabs closed out their program very, very strong. The question was now whether C2 could buck up and turn up the wick like they have for the past several seasons at Big Sounds.

C2 did just that.

At one point early on, the one Guard fellow tosses a 7 or 8 on the 50 in the center of a cluster of guard folks framing him... and no one reacted. :blink: If a big dummy like myself saw this... sheesh! Were some folks sitting on their hands at that point? :innocent:

The transition from the opening fanfare to "Third Wind" was pretty sweet, the brass laid off the center of the beat in a wonderful way. With Pat Metheny charts, groove is King.

C2's shout segments were really powerful and laying out some legit smack-down on the stands. No more iffy, wimpy, brass at C2 anymore.

"Heat of the Day" was really cohesive and improved, and C2 was really getting in the audience's face at times. They made me smile. They've really been busting to get that push and vibe, and they're making me believe through their playing. Their musicality spoke for itself.

Now, for "First Circle".

C2 had me tearing up. They got to me. That takes a lot of work to get to my somewhat jaded heart.

Yeah, there's been a hose job on the brass parts at the end which still bugs me to a certain extent, BUT- the sincerity of the corps in their presentation and their XXX-busting sheer effort sold the moment and touched my heart. How could I not love, enjoy, and respect their effort? :happy:

C2 earned their 2nd place seed. Put that in the Bank.

I... took no notes for the Bucs. Those who see me at shows know I take a lot of notes for every corps. Not for the Bucs this time. The program started, things clicked as always, I'm drawn inside the program as always.... I looked over at the Tubas, who performed masterfully.

The reason I didn't take notes was this:

I realized my eyes saw 7 Tubas on the field. I then further realized that my heart and soul saw 8. I realized with deep awe and inspiration that there was no hole on that field for that performance, nor would there be a hole for Championship weekend. The Bucs performed with every bit of their hearts and minds and transcended any negatives that were placed in front of them.

When they came off the field, the other corps were there to receive them. It was a thoughtful and right thing to do.

The White Sabres were in an arc, and played a really luscious arrangement of "You'll Never Walk Alone" for the Bucs, again, a right, kind, and heartfelt gesture. I saw Donny Allen in that arc, towel around his neck. The Samurai say that your actions speak for you far more than anything you can say, that words are just mere words. Donny's actions spoke beautifully for himself and for all of us who have marched. :worthy:

I'll wrap up later today. I've been at the keyboard for a couple of hours. :turn:

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Yet another wonderful review, W!!!!

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I think some readers believe all I see are pink clouds, happy rainbows and little ponies in Ponyville with DCA. I've truthfully liked everything I've seen to this point. Unfortunately . . . my bad side is about to come out.

Anybody else reading this think of The 6th Sense?

COLE

We were supposed to draw a picture. Anything we wanted . . .

I drew a man. He got hurt in the neck by another man with a screwdriver.

An uncomfortable silence overtakes the den.

MALCOLM

You saw that on T.V., Cole?

Cole answers by taking a small step back. Beat.

COLE

Everybody got upset. They had a meeting. Momma started crying.

(beat)

I don't draw like that anymore.

MALCOLM

How do you draw now?

COLE

I draw people with smiles, dogs running, and rainbows.

(beat)

They don't have meetings about rainbows.

MALCOLM

(soft)

I guess they don't.

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Gold has to do something about the Brass/Music books they present. I've felt this way for the last 4 seasons and keep hoping something will be done to create a more engaging and enjoyable music program for this corps to present but it's not been happening. I said much the same last season. It's very frustrating because the corps deserves better.

Look--I love the obtuse and more serious stuff. It's not that I expect a book that's something everyone knows or is comfortable with. Bush's closer is certainly not easy listening but I'm all in when they perform it now. I loved it last season when White Sabers did "Incantation and Dance", for Pete's sake. I'm not asking for the greatest hits of DCA here.

I sat at Chili's eating dinner Sunday after the contest mulling over this issue and while sitting there came up with three better show ideas for Gold than they've been doing.

-The music of Carlos Santana

-The music of Led Zepplin

-The music of Paul Simon

Nothing fancy for God's sake, nothing super-esoteric, intellectual...-- but a decent DCA brass arranger could take those and come up with some good, engaging, varied, and emotional moments for any corps. And.... create better moments for the visual design team that would, guess what-- showcase their guard far more then they have been showcased!

I'm curious: do you feel it is the musical selections or the arrangements that are causing the obscurity? It occurs to me that almost everything Gold plays this year has been heard in drum corps before:

--Minnesota Brass played "Lux Arumque" in 2014.

--Blue Knights and Crossmen played "Fly to Paradise" last year.

--Empire Statesmen played "Man in the Mirror" in 2011.

--"Mirrors" is new to drum corps, but it's also a big hit by Justin Timberlake, i.e., populist fare.

--Among the many corps who have played "Joy" is Fusion Core in 2013.

--Cavaliers played "Harrison's Dream" in 2010.

--Among others, Blue Devils in 2008 played "Serenada Schizophrana".

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I've heard the original "Lux Arumque" by Whitacre. It didn't connect with me that it was "Lux Arumque", though. Yeah, I realized I'd heard Fusion play "Joy", I've heard some good HS perform it as well, didn't know the title. It's a nice piece of music.

It just feels like there's nothing to hold onto and grab musically in this program. No sense of pace, no real emotional content to really reach me- or for that matter a lot of other people if I read that audience well, and I think I did.

Gold has had this issue. The espionage show with original music, which was at best generic and kind of okay but again- nothing there to hook the listener and draw them into the world the program creates. The Guard bore the brunt of hooking the viewer with their story. Read last year's Big Sounds review about them and you'll read much the same thing. This is a real problem. It's obviously a big enough of one to prevent them form making finals, and it's a big enough issue to have them seeded last place in Open going into the weekend.

But-- this is not indoor guard. There are live performers creating music that are evaluated and making contributions that have a certain and serious weight to the overall score.

It just seems the creative people at Gold are very indoor oriented and forget this fact, and that they really, really need to find musical packages that are dynamic, creative, and can get the listener interested and involved in the performance. It's not just about what the Guard does and how well they do it. There are 50ish other individuals out there doing something as well, and they need to be provided with something engaging, not something that may translate well with a recording in an indoor arena... but does not translate well to the outdoor venue with live performers on brass and percussion.

Let's think about this-- A great arranger can take something that one would never think would translate to the field and make it something that totally gasses tho audience. Perfect case in point-- Who'd have thunk it that Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" would have made an utterly iconic moment this season in DCI with Bluecoats? Sweet Baby Jesus, it was amazing! Of course, the opposite can happen. Weak arranging, over-arranging, or not really arranging for who and what you have can make a great piece of music go bad.

Play Mennin's "Canzona"... Adams' "Short Ride in a Fast Machine"... Play Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio"... Play the Special's "What I Like Most About You is Your Girlfriend", play "Packard Goose" by Zappa for Lord's sake, just do it in a way that engages me- wants me to really listen and get mentally intoxicated in the harmonic textures, the rhythms and flow of the melody. Makes me wonder how they will resolve the piece, find moments of beauty hidden inside like a pearl in an oyster or a flower in the middle of the field. Maybe has a little unexpected turn here and there that makes me really appreciate the craft of the arranger and get wrapped up in that program. Makes me smile and feel joy or even be touched with profound sadness in my heart.

Guess what? Who was pretty good at that this season in DCA??? The Bucs and CV in particular, with C2, the Cabs and White Sabres also doing the job rather nicely.

Wow. Your question made me think very, very hard. I need dinner now, man. :satisfied: It's all good. :cool:

Edited by BigW

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I'm curious: do you feel it is the musical selections or the arrangements that are causing the obscurity? It occurs to me that almost everything Gold plays this year has been heard in drum corps before:

--Minnesota Brass played "Lux Arumque" in 2014.

--Blue Knights and Crossmen played "Fly to Paradise" last year.

--Empire Statesmen played "Man in the Mirror" in 2011.

--"Mirrors" is new to drum corps, but it's also a big hit by Justin Timberlake, i.e., populist fare.

--Among the many corps who have played "Joy" is Fusion Core in 2013.

--Cavaliers played "Harrison's Dream" in 2010.

--Among others, Blue Devils in 2008 played "Serenada Schizophrana".

IMO....the arrangement as well as the visual presentation. The corps is often staged in ways that maybe work with 60 brass, but not 30. They seem to have forgotten the old axiom "write for what you have, now what you wish you had"

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.. I looked over at the Tubas, who performed masterfully.

TUBAS ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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.. I looked over at the Tubas, who performed masterfully.

TUBAS ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Have you been out of town for the last, say, 16 years? LOL

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