SWriverstone

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  1. Original poster here. Look, I am truly sorry for sounding so condescending in my OP. As someone else pointed out, I was NOT attacking any person or any creative staff member individually. And yes—my OP was not tactful. I'm actually NOT a mean person. My post admittedly came from a place of deep frustration at what—in my opinion (yes, it's an opinion)—is hearing the same kind of disjointed, jarring music coming from top corps for several years now. I was also frustrated because I keep hearing all sorts of talk about "innovation" (which is pretty wide-open term in itself), and yet from what I can see, not one corps seems to have the cojones to go out on the field and play one *fully intact* work of music (with zero cuts or edits and no park-and-blast power chords added). As others have said, my opinion is that the music has taken a backseat to the visuals—and as a musician, I hate this—and think it results in weaker shows. I know plenty don't agree–fine, don't agree. For anyone who said I was trying to make my post about me and my degree, you clearly didn't read my OP. I don't give a flip about my degree—it's just what I got, and I only mentioned it to point out I spent a long time deeply immersed in musical study and performance. (If I'd said "I know something about music" and not mentioned my degree, it's likely someone would have asked "How is it that you think you know so much?") I've been on web forums since the primitive beginnings in the late 80s and early 90s—and learned a long time ago the Number 1 Rule of the Web: You ALWAYS give people the benefit of the doubt. If you assume that everything you say might be misconstrued or interpreted in the worst possible way, everything you say would be useless (because it would be so butt-kissingly polite from fear of upsetting someone). Anyway, I've listened to (and watched) SCV's show a total of 13 times now since yesterday (over 2 hours of focused listening and watching). And I guess in spite of my music degree I'm clearly deficient because it hasn't grown on me one bit. If I were listening to it in a vacuum—never having heard any other music in my life—it might be different. But in spite of everyone swooning over the ballad in the show, I can think of many, many other ballads I've heard (both from drum corps and elsewhere) that I think tower over this particular ballad from a musical perspective. I cannot evaluate any corps music in a vacuum without comparing it to every other work of music I've ever heard. If you think SCV's ballad was the most beautiful thing you've ever heard, I'm baffled. (Which is okay—it's okay to be baffled!) I appreciate the good comments above about the drum corps audience, whether or not the activity will grow (and whether it should), and how teenagers in 10 or 20 years will like something completely different that ALL of us think is lousy, LOL. Good food for thought. In closing, I'll say this: there's often an underlying assumption (both on the part of individuals and in society as a whole) that "evolution" always equates with "progress." In some areas it does—but this isn't always the case. Just because something is "current" or "new" or "the latest" doesn't always mean it's the "best" (however you define the words in quotes). It's entirely possible that things (particularly where subjective art is concerned) just go in circles or even regress and actually get worse over time. With drum corps, I think the overall level of ensemble performance has absolutely progressed—but I don't think the music has gotten any "better" over the past few decades. It's been twisted and chopped and spliced to fit the insatiable needs of a hyperactive drill and choreography. In my opinion. Scott PS - I'm still interested and somewhat amused that not one person in this huge thread has made a single comment about the musical merit (or lack thereof) of the examples i linked to in an earlier post (even from older SCV shows) of what I think are brilliant musical examples. It would be GREAT if someone would take any of those pieces and explain why (in your opinion, of course) what SCV performed this year was so much better?
  2. Sorry ouooga—let's see how the activity is doing in 10 or 20 years. Then tell me if SCV 2018 is marketable. And anytime you'd like to convene a focus group of people on the street and ask them to compare SCV's music to the examples i posted above, I'd be happy to do it with you if we can find funding to do it. Because I'm 100% certain the average person on the street would NOT find this music satisfying to listen to. Sure, they might be impressed with the visuals...but not the music. Scott
  3. I guess you're right StarOrg. And it's really sad, because drum corps as an activity will NEVER grow if it stays on its current path. If everyone's okay with it remaining a "music education insider's activity" forever, then okay. I'd like to see more. Scott
  4. Lots of interesting posts and points—thanks! On the definition of quality—lots of people put forth the notion that "there is no such thing as definable quality." Maybe. But if you follow this concept to its logical conclusion, then DCI wouldn't exist—because there would be no competition. Why? Because you can no more or less define "quality" in music than you can in execution. Just because a row of musicians marches in a flawlessly straight line or a mathematically precise curve isn't "proof" that it's "high-quality marching." Yes, DCI *attempts* to set forth standards by which certain aspects of a show are judged objectively—but it's just as subjective as me saying SCV's music was an epic fail. Even when given clearly-defined criteria, everything judges do is subjective. They are expressing their opinions about who is 1st, who is 2nd, and so on. (If someone has some omnipotent, mechanically precise method for determining who executes the best, please enlighten us!) If you think I'm undermining my own argument, bear with me—in the absence of any real ability to judge objectively, subjectivity is all we have. If we don't at least try to establish some definition of quality, then we're totally unmoored—just a bunch of babbling fools making progress toward...nothing. --- Getting back to the issue of SCV's music—some here seem to think I lack the ear to understand it. Again, I love a lot of music considered "difficult" by most people. I love Charles Ives' Concord Sonata. I'm no stranger to dissonance, odd-meter rhythms, abrupt transitions, non-chord tones, bitonalism, etc. And yet I still thought SCV's show was an awful mashup filled with jarring transitions and musical filler. --- I'd really like to continue the thread and try to add to the conversation, but (contrary to those who suggested I don't have enough going in my life) I have a busy life with a family, kids, and a great job with en environmental nonprofit, and I just don't have the time. Haters and single-syllable grunters rejoice! YOU WON!!! Thanks to those who made intelligent, reasonable posts—I really appreciate your replies! Otherwise, this whole thread has left me believing that DCI has a serious case of "The Emperor's New Clothes" going on: drum corps fans have become so blinded by flashy baubles in the form of scatter drill, props on the field, hornline choreography, amplified digital samples and the like that they've forgotten how wonderful it is when a corps plays music that the crowd can actually relate to and groove with. And imagine how amazing corps shows would be if you added the scatter drill, choreography, props, etc. to an accessible musical show! It's also clear that as a youth activity, drum corps will never grow beyond its current state without making shows more accessible and entertaining. You can deride that as lowest-common-denominator BS all you like, but it's just reality. (What's that? You think the activity is healthy and growing? Look around a bit.) If you want drum corps to be what it currently is: an insider's activity where the target audience is corps alums, parents, staff, corps members, and every high school and university band director in the nation, then Hallelujah! But if you'd like to see every major city in the country have a great corps—and see the activity catch on in a meaningful way in smaller cities and communities (and internationally), shows like SCV's will not get you there. Scott PS - A couple folks asked me what drum corps shows met my criteria for great music? I could pull a list together, but it's pointless—because most of the list would be of shows from 10, 20 and 30 years ago—which many here would laugh at as being old-school and irrelevant. This is because "old-school" drum corps relied mainly on the music to sell a crowd (because they didn't have much else to offer). • For SCV, my "Exhibit A" is their 1999 opener "The Canyon." Absolutely brilliant musically (and supported by a drill that perfectly fit the music). • Another brilliant SCV opener: 1985's "Festive Overture" (Shostakovitch) • The Cadets entire 1983 show: Rocky Point Holiday was one of the greatest openers in DCI history, bar none. • Phantom Regiment's "Malambo" in 1979 I could go on—the point is NOT that the visuals of the above examples compare with today's. The point is, minimize your browser window and just LISTEN. If you''d really rather hear SCV's music from this year's show than the above examples, I just shake my head.
  5. Sorry—forgot to add: I really don't think my Juilliard degree means much, and shouldn't have mentioned it—because it clearly derailed parts of the conversation. I only mentioned it to show that I'm not a musical amateur, but someone with somewhat high-level musical training and professional performing experience. That's it. If I thought my Juilliard degree meant so much, I wouldn't have abandoned music as a career 25 years ago and launched a now-very-successful career in marketing and communications. Scott
  6. Hi again all—dipping in and out of the thread throughout the day while I get real work done. :-) The highly critical nature of my OP was calculated to get some attention—but unlike a lot of clickbait, I'm trying to elevate/extend the convo beyond "Gotcha!" In hindsight I could have been softer in my opinion of SCV's show. Putting some people on the defensive is never a good thing (because some people lash out and aren't receptive to anything else). But the truth is, a lot of people have been saying what I'm saying for years—and it hasn't made a bit of difference (again—in my opinion). IMO, from a musical perspective, drum corps has gone down what I think is the wrong path—that is, taking a longer original composition and trying to edit it to fit 11 minutes. That's like trying to show only 25% of DaVinci's Mona Lisa—it doesn't work, and results in fragmented music with rushed transitions. On the other hand, there are plenty of original compositions that are 11 minutes long (or shorter) that could make great shows. No—I don't have an example off the top of my head...wait, I do! another great SCV example: Shostakovitch's Festive Overture (1985). A good friend of mine suggested that I should never use examples like that from drum corps' past because it'll just brand me as an "old fart" who is irrelevant now. But (with respect to my friend), there is a LOT we can learn from the past. (And it's interesting that nobody has commented on my earlier example of another fantastic SCV musical opener, The Canyon.) There is no law that says drum corps must "innovate or lose." Judges aren't required to reward innovation—they can also reward meaning and emotion, which are entirely independent of innovation. (I'd suggest meaning and emotion are more important than innovation.) It's also a mistake to assume the most technically demanding shows are the most difficult. That's complete BS. Ask any professional musician what's harder to SELL to an audience: a blistering-fast piece filled with 16th-note runs and technical fireworks? Or a slow, sustained piece that builds to a climax after several minutes. Most will say the latter is FAR more difficult to do well. I'm not suggesting music shouldn't be one or the other—both are good. But DCI has been sucked down the same vortex of the Olympics: if some is good, more is better (More speed! More acrobatics! More props! More everything!) And what happens when human limits are reached? Several good pieces have appeared in the media lately pointing out that this is exactly what's happening in the Olympics—the limits of human performance are here—and times (for timed sports) aren't getting faster. So now what? What's a drum corps gonna do when you can't play more notes or have more props on the field? BariGirl78—you ask some good questions. I still need to listen to the other shows from the top 12 this year. (Stay tuned.) As far as my musical tastes go, they're incredibly broad—which is one reason why I think my opinion is well-informed. I love classical (from every century), jazz (whoever mentioned jazz failed to recognize that "jazz" is about as broad a category as "classical"), pop and rock from every decade (but particularly the 60's, 70's, and 80's), gospel, blues (both the Stevie Ray Vaughan kind and the Mississippi John Hurt kind), African gyilli music from Ghana, Indonesian gamelan, Latin music of all kinds, 20th-century minimalism—the list goes on and on. I listen to all this stuff on a regular basis. On page 6 of this thread, MarimbaManiac suggested that composers like Persichetti, Sessions, Cage, Stravinsky, etc can't be considered avante-garde anymore. I disagree! Maybe they aren't considered avante-garde in music schools, but (in case you didn't notice) the general public never got as far as any of those composers. So in that sense they absolutely are (still) avant garde. (Maybe in another century the public will catch up—who knows?) You think John Cage is "old school?" Try performing his Third Construction flawlessly. And what about a piece like Frederic Rzewski's Les Moutons de Panurge? You think that's old school??? It's every bit as "innovative" as anything with that label today. I've gotta go for now, but maybe a good related question is: who is the audience for drum corps? And more importantly, who should it be? Clearly a lot of people think the audience for drum corps shows is made up almost entirely of music school students or graduates who are drum corps fans. Because if anyone thinks the general lay public is going to love a piece like Metropolis 1927, you should spend some time listening to FM radio. (I think DCI would be shocked to find out how quickly their fan base would grow if shows were more accessible to average audiences-which could easily be done without dumbing them down.) More later! Scott
  7. Thanks for all the good replies everyone. Of course—everything I say is my opinion. It's my hope to sway some people to my way of thinking, and I know everyone won't agree. To those who asked, I've NOT watched other shows from this year yet, but will—and am happy to offer my thoughts on them. And you'll never hear me attack anyone (or their opinions) personally—though sure—I have no problem with calling SCV's show a musical fail. And there are probably some who'll say "well if you haven't watched any other shows then shut the eff up because your opinion is meaningless." I think much in these conversations is timeframe-dependent. Most younger drum corps fans by default will think only the last few years of shows is important and everything earlier than (to pick a year at random) 2014 is ancient history and lame. LOL There are other folks (I'm one of them) who've followed the activity for decades and have a higher-level view of how it's evolved over the years. I don't expect someone who's 18 to be able to effectively compare the music in today's shows to the music in a 1999 show. I haven't yet watched all the top 12 shows from this year, but I've watched a lot of shows over the past many years. Speaking of 1999 (and maybe this will better frame my original post), Santa Clara's opener that year, "The Canyon," was one of the greatest openers in drum corps history. Musically, it was brilliant—one seamless musical thought from beginning to end, supported by a spectacular drill that perfectly fit the seamless flow of the music. Was the execution sloppy? Sure—but it still packed an incredible emotional punch. (I could say the same about many other SCV openers and shows from the past.) I'll address a few specific posters' thoughts and comments later-gotta get some work done now. :-) Scott EDITED TO ADD: Just wanted to say "The Canyon" has all of what I believe are the critical elements of great music: it has a sustained melodic line that repeats (and you can remember); it has a steady rhythmic pulse that runs throughout the entire opener; it sustains a single musical thought beautifully from a quiet beginning...to an climax...and then a long, gradual decrescendo to a beautiful ending. ALSO: I should have clarified a few things in my original post: first, as others have said, I think the individual performances of the corps members in SCV's show is amazing. And I'm making no comment whatsoever on the quality of the choreography, the execution of difficult moves, etc. The core of my argument is that everything else in drum corps depends on the music—if a corps went out on the field and did nothing at all but stand there and play great music, I'd be willing to bet that people would enjoy that show a lot more than one where the instruments got left on the sideline for the entire show while the corps ran and danced their butts off doing amazing physical feats in perfect synchrony.
  8. I fully expect many people to make the "all music is subjective" argument. (Or the "personal taste" argument.) What I'd love to hear (which admittedly takes a bit more time) is more detail—focusing particularly on the underlying elements of (in this case) SCV's music that you liked. It's certainly okay to say "I liked it." I'm just politely asking people to explain why they liked it. (I'm happy to explain further why I didn't—but it'll take some time and specific musical references to the show.) Heck, I'm even willing to watch (and listen) to SCV's show a dozen more times in a genuine attempt to appreciate it. But one of my points is that I shouldn't have to. Scott
  9. There's a well-known and studied psychological phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect (also called the familiarity principle). It means people develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. Put more simply, if you listen to lousy music long enough, you'll start thinking it's good. (This isn't opinion—it's fact.) It's clear that DCI audiences are suffering from this effect in a big way. Witness what DCI judges considered the pinnacle of shows in 2018 by awarding it a championship (SCV). Now I get that drum corps is more than just music—it's "art" (though I could make a case for why it really isn't, even at the highest levels). Drill, choreography, difficulty, etc. are all part of the activity. But the emotional underpinnings of any show are the music. You aren't going to be swept to emotional highs by a single high rifle toss or a big two-handed rimshot. The music matters—a lot. I've spent countless hours of my life studying, listening to, and performing music of all kinds. I have a BM degree from Juilliard—which doesn't make me more knowledgeable than anyone else—it simply certifies that I'm very knowledgeable about music—and what distinguishes good music from bad music. Contrary to popular belief, music isn't "in the ear of the beholder." It's entirely possible to judge it objectively and even place it (roughly) on a universal scale from bad to good. (If you're someone who believes the quality of music is entirely subjective, you're a hypocrite—because you logically must say the same about everything in life—which I'm sure you don't.) So on to SCV's show: I've watched it several times. Not dozens or hundreds of times—because remember the mere-exposure effect? I'm not going to destroy my judgement by watching it every day for the entire summer (like the corps members and staff do). The first criterion for great music is that—on the first listen—it moves you. If it doesn't, then it could easily be argued the music has failed. Some might argue that it's not just the music in drum corps that should move you, but the collective experience of music, drill, and choreography. Fair enough. But nobody would argue that the music has a far greater impact on a show's general effect than either drill or choreography. And drill and choreography don't even come close to having the emotional impact of music. I watched SCV's show with an open heart and mind. I love SCV! I always have. And I give every show the benefit of the doubt because I want to be moved emotionally. When I watch a drum corps show, I want to have tears in my eyes. I don't give a flip about how cleanly a difficult move is executed. It's interesting, but that will never move me to tears. (That's a bit like trying to be moved to tears by a brilliantly-designed coffeepot—it ain't gonna happen.) While watching (and listening) to SCV's show, I paid attention. I focused on the melody (or absence of it), the harmonies, the transitions, the tempo changes—I sat back and let it wash over me without judgement. It left me cold and feeling completely flat. After hearing it the first time, I thought "Okay, I'm just not familiar with it." (There's that principle again!) So I watched/listened again. And again. And in what is a testament to the absolute sterility of the show's music, familiarity didn't help at all. Every time I listened to SCV's show, it was just as pointless and unemotional as the previous listening. Here's what I noticed, repeatedly: • There were no discernable, memorable melodies in the show—and by melodies, I mean a sustained melodic line lasting at least 8 bars (at the same tempo) that very clearly moves from point A to point B in an emotional arc. (Think of just about any Beatles song, any Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, or any Beethoven symphony.) Even after repeated views, I couldn't sing along with 2 bars of this show (and I have a good ear for remembering melodies). • There was no sense of a grounded tempo anywhere in the show—by this, I mean a chance to get into a groove—to feel the pulse of the music and actually have a chance to tap your foot or rock gently along with it. Tempo changes were so frequent they suggested a kind of musical schizophrenia—arrangements driven entirely by the drill and perceived difficulty. NOTE: Even some of the most brilliant, avante-garde compositions in music history hold to a steady tempo for at least 16-32 bars—I'm thinking of pieces like Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps or Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra orJohn Cage's Third Construction. • There was no overall sense of continuity—no feeling of going on a journey from the beginning of the show to the logical conclusion. Despite the flowery descriptions creative staff come up with to justify their shows, SCV's show was quite literally like a long series of 1- or 2-second cuts in a video, each one jarring, seemingly designed to be as abrupt as possible. This was, plain and simple, an epic musical fail. (And therefore, a fail of a show—in spite of winning.) Some of you reading this will think I just don't get it. Okay—I'll humor you: I get cubist paintings. I get architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright. And I get music by Steve Reich, Igor Stravinsky, Vincent Persichetti, John Cage, and countless other "challenging" composers. I have a very sophisticated musical ear. My favorite composer is Charles Ives—I've listened to his Concord Sonata hundreds of times—and every time I hear something I didn't hear before. (And trust me—Ives' Concord Sonata is light years ahead of any DCI show in sophistication.) Some of you will think I'm just an old fart who doesn't understand current music. At this I just shake my head and laugh: have you noticed that people still love The Beatles, Beethoven, Mississippi John Hurt, and Joni Mitchell? This music isn't any less relevant and popular today than it was 25 or 100 years ago. When it comes to music, you can't get rid of the fundamental elements that make music great without destroying it: 1. It moves you emotionally on the FIRST listen. 2. It is memorable—you can actually hum or sing some of it after one hearing—and ALL of it after several hearings. 3. It has a steady, consistent pulse that you can slip into and feel—in a sustained way—while you listen. SCV's show had NONE of these qualities on the first hearing (or second, third, or fourth). which is why I call it an epic fail. What disturbs me even more than SCV performing this show (who has a long history of connecting emotionally with audiences through great music) is the fact that DCI judges apparently reward this "music" that is devoid of any characteristics of good music. Yes, I know—they're judging more than the music (I already acknowledged this), but the judging community has lost its way. Clearly judges are more focused on difficulty (in the form of chaotic, disjointed shows packed with tempo changes and 32nd-note runs) than they are on emotionally connecting with audiences. --- In many ways, I guess we've gotten what we deserve. It's widely acknowledged that young people today have an average attention span of seconds. Maybe show designers are catering to this? Maybe we—as an American species—have lost the ability to focus on something more than 10 seconds without needing an abrupt change? Listen to pop music today and it's clear that it exists on a level far lower in intelligence than it ever has in the past (just look at all the hit songs about nothing more than partying). Even the Academy Awards have officially decided movie audiences are dumb–they've created a new Oscar for "Best Popular Film." (Because a popular film can't be intelligent or have depth.) If anyone out there disagrees with my premise that SCV's show was a musical fail (and I'm sure hundreds or thousands do), feel free to explain (hopefully in more than single-syllable words) why you think it was great. Tell me how this show moved you emotionally. And as proof, record yourself singing some part of SCV's show and post the MP3 here. :-) (Corps members and staff who performed/arranged the show aren't allowed–your impartial judgement is long gone). Scott
  10. Hi again to anyone reading this thread. :) Once again, I've been completely out of the drum corps loop this season---I missed it, but life took me in some other directions (a job change as well as other hobbies like motorcycling, hang gliding, distance cycling, etc.). It sounds like some people have gotten something worthwhile from my comments---I'm glad! And I'd still enjoy working with anyone who is interested. Just send me a private message and I'll be sure to stay on top of responses. But this isn't a veiled attempt at getting teaching gigs---I'm happy to offer any advice here too. So feel free to ask any questions you might have here, and I'll do what I can to respond! Regards, Scott Wilkinson Harpers Ferry, WV
  11. To anyone reading this thread...I just checked in a few months after making all my earlier posts (life's kept me busy!). I'll try to monitor the thread a bit more often, but in case I don't, if anyone has any questions about timpani technique, scoring, etc. feel free to send me a private message---I'll get those regardless and am happy to help anyway possible. If any drum corps staffs are interested in having me come do a timpani clinic for pit members, I'd be happy to do that as well, for only the cost of my travel expenses. Just send a private message and we can talk more. Thanks, Scott Wilkinson (SWriverstone)
  12. Oh yeah...I had a COLOSSAL moment of stupidity like that once---playing timpani for a huge concert (1,000+ people in the audience) at the Spoleto Festival. We were doing Mahler's 5th Symphony---a huge symphony with a gigantic timpani part. At the end of the whole symphony, the GRAND CLIMAX!---the timpani play the 4-note melody in unison with the brass, fff. I completely spaced on a critical tuning change (after nailing it many times in rehearsal), and came crashing in on that melody with one note a full tritone away from the correct pitch---DOH! The lick was so hard there was no time to correct it without looking really bad...so I just crashed through it---fff---with a GLARING wrong note. The conductor made a really surprised and angry face at me and didn't want me playing for him ever again. I wanted to put a gun to my head! :( So we've all been there... You make a good point, and sure---I'm willing to admit that drum corps timpani might just be a different sound, different approach, different reasoning. Lots of people have said they got compliments from judges on their solid sound and presence. Though I certainly don't know this (just a theory), I've suggested that those same judges might not have ever really spent a lot of time listening to professional symphony orchestras. I know it's common for many drum corps judges to be 100% band people---and have never really been involved in orchestral music in their entire careers. (Nothing against being a 100% band person!) So...sure, if one's goal as a drum corps timpanist is to really integrate well with the keyboards in the pit---in other words, almost serve the role of an "ultra-bass keyboard instrument," then I think many people are doing an excellent job of that. And that could be a good thing! :) My belief (and it's just another opinion) is that timpani are capable of not only blending with the mallets...but being a huge, powerful instrument that can actually support the entire horn line...and not just the pit. In other words, my philosophy of timpani is more that timpani are a solo instrument...and not just a section instrument. This is the role of timpani in an orchestra. But I'll readily admit that outdoor vs. indoor acoustics are two WAY different situations! And it's a lot easier to play over a string section than 65 horns! :) I would LOVE to find a pit instructor (and music caption head) who is willing---for one season even---to pump up the timpani bigtime---through more player projection and (yes) amplification...and not back down when judges say "timpani are a bit overpowering"...and try to educate judges that this is the way timpani are supposed to sound! :) Scott
  13. Hi Carl306... Actually, the Bluecoats' timpanist---Greg Tsalikis---was once my student in an indoor drumline. :) Not that I take credit for his talent---it's all his! Though my thread title ("Lame timpanists?") was intended to get peoples' attention, I do believe there are some good timpanists in DCI. I also believe much of that talent is still undeveloped because world-class timpani instructors are few and far between. (And I point to the lack of projection as one aspect of this undeveloped quality.) As I've said before, it's difficult to become a truly great timpanist without playing in an orchestra full-time for at least a few years. Playing in a concert band or wind ensemble at a university is fine, but it's not the same level of experience a timpanist gets in a good symphony orchestra. I'm not bashing bands---just saying that the quantity of great (and demanding) repertoire for timpani is far greater in orchestral music than anywhere else. I've been lucky enough to have that orchestral experience, and I'd like to do what I can to pass some knowledge on to people who haven't yet had that kind of experience. Scott
  14. Yeah, the issue of what the pitch sounds like to you versus what it sounds to an audience member is a b*tch. About the only way anyone can address it is to get someone with a good ear up in the stands, and spend an hour tuning a pitch, then finding out if it's sharp/flat from the stands...and trying to detect a pattern. I never did this in orchestral situations, just tuned as accurately as I could. Most conductors seemed happy with my tuning, but one could argue that they were too close! It can definitely be tough deciding which pitch reference to go with---the pit? Or the horns? My choice would be the horns---as long as they're sounding pretty in-tune with themselves! I say the horns because the timp sound is more closely akin to low brass than to marimbas or vibes, which are radically different timbres. But of course the music might dictate this as well (e.g. tune the timps to the mallets if it's a pit feature). Way back in '79-80, Art Fabrizio, timp/keyboard instructor for the 27th Lancers, had a great system for timp tuning: he'd signal from the stands---first, he'd hold up fingers indicating which number drum (1=bottom, 4=top), then for "sharp" he'd tug his ear lobe...and for "flat" he'd pat his hands against his chest. :) No reason not to use that system today! Scott
  15. Sure MGC---by the way, who did you play for? Scott