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Everything posted by SWriverstone

  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 wha
  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 cer
  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).
  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
  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 genuin
  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
  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
  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 W
  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 correc
  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 a
  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
  15. Sure MGC---by the way, who did you play for? Scott
  16. Hi MGCpimpOtimp... Good question! Unfortunately, the short answer is...no. Even on a 32" drum, anything below an F is gonna start getting flabby, and there's no way around it. In the entire symphonic repertoire, it's rare to find Es and Ds ever scored louder than mezzo-forte. Any louder, and the "trash can" starts kicking in. In marching band and drum corps pits, I'd never score below an F unless it was only during quiet sections of the show. If your parts call for fortissimo playing on a low E or D, they need to be re-scored! Intonation-wise, you can get a clear pitch from those ultra-low
  17. SCVTeerav---you hit on probably the single toughest issue with timpani---tuning! As you guys know, there isn't any specific thing I can say in terms of getting the pitch "right." There are just too many variables. Even in a hypothetically "perfect" set of drums with "perfectly" mounted heads...the timbre of a timpano is enormously complex. With a good ear, you can hear all sorts of stuff going on besides the fundamental pitch. And different frequencies in the overtone range are going to cut through in different environments (again, piles of variables). Switch to harder mallets, and the higher
  18. Hi Amanda...I remember you! I actually watched you guys practice Friday (on the field right next to the stadium). As I recall, your technique looked solid...but...I think you could have played (at times) with more power. When I said earlier that I "couldn't hear" timpanists, that wasn't literally the case---I could hear everyone...but I just don't think the volume was enough relative to the output of the rest of the pit, horns and battery. Please understand that my perspective regarding volume and balance comes from years playing in a large, professional symphony orchestra indoors. In that
  19. Yep, sounds like that's what was going on. The reality is that they're both important---and I'd always teach someone both techniques at the same time. Tuning changes are fun (and challenging)...but in my opinion, pit arrangers (and/or whoever else has a role in the timp parts) are way too carried away with tuning changes. I think a big reason I didn't see timpani players as physically into the parts as they should be is because you guys were all so busy pedaling your butts off! Here's a radical thought---stand up! Yes, that's what I said---stand and play. I'd never play any other way, unle
  20. Hi CapRegTimp04... I'm not quite sure what you mean by "both ends of the fulcrum strength," but I'm guessing you're wondering which is better---squeezing like crazy? Or being loose and relaxed? The answer is...both! Playing timpani (like a lot of drumming) is a combination of arm, wrists, and fingers. If you're playing French grip, it requires more finger strength (particularly between thumb and first finger) than any other kind of drumming. Many timpanists don't play French grip because it's harder. Holding the mallets, say, like a tenor player (which is more like German grip) is easier...
  21. Hi Los... I think most players understand the mechanics behind French grip...but what they don't get is that to project effectively, you've got to have enormous strength in that fulcrum between your thumb and first finger. You support the fulcrum with other fingers, but you still have to have the strength in the fulcrum itself. The only way you build this strength is by pinching. Yep, plain ol' pinching---hard! If you're doing it right, it should hurt. If it doesn't hurt, you're not building any strength there. You won't make the fulcrum any stronger just by playing without pinching. As it
  22. A quick report on Saturday's Allentown show... I was hoping to hear more timpani the second night, but again was disappointed. As with Friday night, I saw plenty of good technique, except everyone was lacking in power. I was impressed with the female timpanist for the Colts (don't know her name?), who came closer than many others to actually projecting. When Crossmen came on the field, I noticed they were actually miking the timps. "Great!" I thought, "Now I'll hear them!" But no...even with individual mics on each drum, Crossmen's timps were no louder than anyone. When Carolina Crown (I th
  23. Arranging the drums "backwards" is (as someone pointed out) a traditional German/Austrian arrangement. I don't know where the tradition came from. Here in the U.S., former Cleveland Orchestra timpanist Cloyd Duff arranged his drums in the German style, and many of his students do as well. There is no advantage nor disadvantage to doing this---it's really more of a personal "label" to say "I play German style" or "I studied with a Cloyd Duff student." Yes! I love that one...but alas, I've never performed it. :( Yes, driving a full, professional orchestra requires some serious power output
  24. Qualifications:I'm a professional timpanist and occasional drum corps fan (meaning I dip in and out of drum corps every few years, but don't have time to follow it constantly). I graduated from Juilliard, and have studied timpani with Fred Begun (National Symphony), Saul Goodman (NY Philharmonic) and Roland Kohloff (NY Philharmonic). I've performed (on timpani) with the Colorado Philharmonic, National Repertory Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Venezuela Symphony, and many other ensembles. (Just so nobody accuses me of not knowing what I'm talking about!) Rant: I'm in Allentown for the D
  25. Hi---I'm interested in all 3 if I'm not too late, and will gladly pay $50/each for them! (I sent a private message as well.) Thanks, Scott swpublic@shadepine.com