ironlips

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Everything posted by ironlips

  1. Jim Donnelly's bio, from the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame web site: "Jim Donnelly was a World War I veteran who modernized the North American drum and bugle corps activity through his musical genius and instrument innovations. He is best known as the musical director of St. Vincent’s Cadets, Bayonne, NJ, selected as the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame junior corps for the 1950’s, but was earlier associated with the Harry Doremus American Legion Post in Paterson, NJ. He helped remove the musical limitations of straight G bugles through the introduction of the D crook and the piston. He helped introduce the French horn and obligato soprano horn to the brass line of drum and bugle corps. St. Vincent’s Cadets were Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) New Jersey state champions twelve times between 1944-57; American Legion state champions seven times between 1949-59; VFW national champions eight times between 1946-57; American Legion national champions 1951 through 1953. St. Vincent’s is the only corps ever to win the round robin twice: 1951-52 VFW state, Legion state, VFW nationals, and Legion nationals 1951, 52 and 53."
  2. Getting back to Vinny's, I believe Jim Donnelly was a WWI vet, making him one of the folks who actually started the veteran's organization drum corps movement in the US in the 1920s. Fr. Edward F. Wojtycha (Wo-tech-a) was the first moderator of the corps, which was an activity of the parish's Boy Scout troop. St. Vincent's is the archtypical example of a neighborhood corps growing into a national power. It took coordination and cooperation of the Church, the Scouts and the VFW, all of which were powerful societal organizations in those days. Fr. Gerald Marchand, a Vinny's alumnus, wrote a book, "All for One and One for All", a history of the corps, and also contributed an excellent chapter devoted to his corps in Vol. 2 of "A History of Drum & Bugle Corps", published in 2003 by Steve Vickers. Alumni from Vinny's fanned out across the country to provide the instruction and expertise that enabled the establishment of the activity nationally. These folks, having been taught by people like Donnelly, Petrone and Chapelle, constitute the very foundation of what came after, down to the present. They should be honored forever by all drum corps participants and supporters.
  3. If you marched in the Manville corps you must have performed my buddy John Arietano's charts. We played together in the Sunrisers for many years.
  4. " Memorial Stadium in Baltimore had the bleeping pitchers mound. " Yes, and when you turned "backfield", there was no backfield, just a symmetrically curved outfield wall that guaranteed instant disorientation. There were no yard markers, naturally. It was a baseball field, after all. There was a rumor about an orange cone somewhere, but I never saw it. The Manning Bowl was my favorite. I'm with Ghost on that. The audience was so close it was like playing in some oversize outdoor nightclub. What a great vibe.
  5. " Jim Donnelly " That man showed me how to hold a G/D single piston soprano bugle and taught me "the scale". (There was only one.) It was 1960, and I had just joined my first drum corps, the Xavier High School Cadets in NYC, having only played Boy Scout bugle calls prior to that. I had never seen St. Vincents, or any other competing corps. A couple of seasons later I began to appreciate that my first instructor was the finest of his generation. How very fortunate I was, along with the hundreds of other kids Jim taught. He was also a masterful arranger, able to negotiate the vagaries of that convoluted horn to create iconic charts like "Conquest", "Oklahoma", "Mambo Jambo" and others. Collaborating with Caesar Lamonica, he "invented" the French Horn bugle. No wonder St. Vinny's ruled the drum corps world in those days.
  6. https://bluedevils.org/programs/a-corps/about/https://bluedevils.org/programs/a-corps/about/ The photo in the upper right corner might offer a little perspective. There was no silver spoon. Their success has been earned, not gifted, just like all the other corps on the field these days.
  7. "Wait, if performers with earbuds cross in front of the speaker arrays, won’t their heads explode from the feedback?" Probably. But of course, they wouldn't need the in-ear monitors if they were in front of their own PA. This discussion sure is taking some interesting and amusing turns.
  8. Well, I wasn't actually suggesting an end to competing, just cleaning up the flea market at the front sideline.
  9. The front sideline boundary is an obsolete anachronism given today's show designs and audience expectations. Let performers go right into the crowd if the writers wish it. Banish all those folks milling around downstage between the field and the viewers, be they photographers, judges, videographers, staff members or other sideline lurkers. This is show-biz. You wouldn't see that on Broadway, in the concert hall or any other professional venue, including the World Wrestling Federation, to which parallels could be drawn to the activity in question. Actual quote from a Rules Congress debate regarding corps entering over the back sideline: Opponent: "But if we give you that, pretty soon you will want the whole field." Bobby Hoffman: "Hell, I want the whole stadium!" It may be time for that.
  10. Ghost has seen the light: Excellent Management + Superb Staff + Focused Philosophy = Success (to the 19th power) This formula is not a secret. Others have used it with good results.
  11. Good point, actually. Especially this season.
  12. Scenario: Plato enters and places two objects on the table. "Here is the Ideal Apple, and here, the Ideal Orange. Which is the superior fruit?", he asks. You get the picture. I am grateful nobody asked me to judge last night's show.
  13. Disagree? Well, ok, but you asked for opinions, no? That's just mine. Perhaps you are right. We'll both have to ask those guys when we see them next. For now, we're both just speculating.
  14. Now that's an interesting question. I'm speculating of course, but given what I know about those cats I'd say both would approve of the judicious use of sound reinforcement. I base this opinion on a couple of things. Jim was clearly one of the most forward-thinking drum corps artists of his day, judging by his work. He was a pusher of boundaries. I knew Fred better, having both shared a house and taught several corps with him (SCV, Crossmen, Freelancers...etc.). He was a technophile and had all the latest gear and gadgets. As for on-field adjudication, I can say with reasonable certainty that he was capable of evaluating a percussion section accurately from the stands, while holding a beverage and a conversation. And I mean, he could predict execution scores down to the tic, and judge microscopic technique like thumb position. That said, not everyone possessed his super powers.
  15. Just as a point of comparison, though not exactly equivalent to a competitive drum corps show, here's the finale from the Basel Tattoo. I was given a back-stage tech tour two weeks ago (courtesy of Erik Julliard, director of the event, WDCHOF member, and leader of Top Secret). There are well over 1000 simultaneous performers at various points, including brass bands, pipers, vocal and instrumental soloists, 100 voice choir, symphony orchestra, rock band, narrations...you get the picture. The balance was virtually perfect throughout. As an example, note the piccolo soloist feature at about 10:55 in the video. At one point, all the above were contributing, yet her sound was still distinct. Of course, it took about a week of rehearsals to tweak the production. The venue was outdoors, attended by about 10, 000. There were 3 medium sized PA speakers across the front (narrow end) and 4 along each of the sides. At no point did they obscure any acoustic sounds. The sound tech was backstage, handling about 100 clip-on mics at a time. The sound director was in the stands, adjusting balance via clear-com commands. You can judge the results for yourself. Drum corps can't achieve all this, given their practical limitations, but the point is that there are standards for what constitutes good sound mixing in a stadium and some attention might be paid to them.
  16. Interesting comparisons can be made among outdoor, indoor and streaming experiences involving the same group. For competitive purposes, corps would prioritize Lucas Oil over Allentown, for instance, yet ignoring the outdoor venue adjustments could be perilous in terms of setting a pattern of relative scoring versus one's nearest competitors. A huge problem, of course, is the night to night venue changes and the total lack of a proper sound check, unless of course you are among the very fortunate who get to rehearse in that space. Sound reinforcement is both Art and Science. Science and calculus are fine, but the proof is in the audience experience. Please let us hear yours, especially the good. We can all easily recognize the bad and the ugly. (Cue the music):
  17. Sincerest condolences to all his family, friends and former corps mates. He marched in a great drumline.
  18. This discussion has been quiet for a while, but continues to be critical. You be the judge. Whose show has the best "audio transparency", and why? Please note whether you are judging from a "live" or "streaming" experience perspective. My front-runner, based on seeing them live, outdoors in Sacramento (and understanding that things may have changed)...Cavaliers. Why? They played extremely dynamically (ppp to fff, with fine shaping), scoring for synths and other reinforced instruments was tasteful (including periods of tacet!), and the marriage of acoustic and electronic sounds was very well balanced. In short, there was clarity. I recalled standing with Ralph Hardimon the year before amps were introduced, listening to this very corps. "Do you have any problem hearing the keyboards?". he asked. "None at all", I said. "Yeah", he replied. "It's called dynamics." They're still doing it. So, who's your candidate?
  19. This discussion has been quiet for a while, but continues to be critical. You be the judge. Whose show has the best "audio transparency", and why? Please note whether you are judging from a "live" or "streaming" experience perspective. My front-runner, based on seeing them live, outdoors in Sacramento (and understanding that things may have changed)...Cavaliers. Why? They played extremely dynamically (ppp to fff, with fine shaping), scoring for synths and other reinforced instruments was tasteful (including periods of tacet!), and the marriage of acoustic and electronic sounds was very well balanced. In short, there was clarity. I recalled standing with Ralph Hardimon the year before amps were introduced, listening to this very corps. "Do you have any problem hearing the keyboards?". he asked. "None at all", I said. "Yeah", he replied. "It's called dynamics." They're still doing it. Discussion continues here:
  20. “Never give up, never ever give up”. To be precise, it's "Never, Never, NEVER give up." - Winston Churchill, to the British people when London was being pulverized by the seemingly invincible Luftwaffe. We all know the result. Never means never. In your place, I would volunteer to help instruct the high brass rookies in a corps like the Columbus Saints, or one of the others in DCI or DCA Open classes. You are a little late to the party, but so what? They need the help, and if you really are a decent player, you can provide that at some level. Trust me. Conducting a 20 person rookie horn line is just rewarding as waving your arms in front of a National Champion. I know. I have done both. P.S. My degree is in History/Political Science
  21. French Horns were irreplaceable in the bugle choir, ever since Caesar Lamonica and Jim Donnelly invented them in the '50s. Mellos are cool but not the same.
  22. Hell's been a popular theme since, well, Genesis (the book, not the corps), and probably well before that, actually. It's related to the fact that the villain gets all the good parts in literature, stage and film. Always has. We just like scary stories around the campfire, and what's a drum corps show but a big musical campfire?
  23. " I've long stated that drum corps is whatever drum corps becomes. " - Michael Boo It's hard to argue that fact, and I must agree with my colleague's statement, and it's philosophical implications. Tradition is important and needs to be respected. The best corps have also had a tradition of innovation. In no way are those concepts mutually exclusive. They are complimentary, and one does not diminish the significance of the other. When we were in charge, we did drum corps our way, to the best of our abilities. The Scouts, along with every other corps, have the right to choose their own way forward. Here's to the next 81 years of Madison.
  24. Every bugler who ever heard Riggie play knew he had no equal. If you are not familiar with him, here's a little anecdote from 2005: http://www.drumcorpsplanet.com/2010/02/inside-the-arc-riggie-maynard-a-me/
  25. A very poignant gesture, and one which will create positive results as the current recipients pass these horns on to others.