Roundtable Editor

Roundtable Editor
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  1. Additional Response Provided for Further Clarification Regarding Synthesizers – Seldom are a synth players exclusively on synth for the entire performance... General Effect Caption That said, with synth, which is so versatile, adjudication is a function of how the instrument is used as a component within the musical ensemble. For example, if what we're hearing are atmospheric sounds, say, waves at the shore, we might feel it is more about GE. Formerly, we might have used a cymbal and gong, or thundersheet for that effect, and would have rewarded it in the same caption. Ensemble Caption Even then, if the synth ran over the top of some delicate celeste playing, or a backfield trumpet solo, the ensemble judges are going to take note. If the synth players are adding a part or voicing to the piece being performed, they will be evaluated similarly to any front ensemble instrumentalists. Some of the questions asked by the adjudicator would be along the lines of, "Are they part of ensemble cohesiveness, is their tone quality appropriate, are they aware of balance and blend?" Performance Caption The percussion judges may pay the most attention in performance, but if the synth affects the horn sound, for good or ill, you will hear from the horn judges as well. In some ways, it may actually be considered double-jeopardy, if anything. The performers are evaluated regarding elements like how they strike the keyboard, or the performance techniques they display within the context of Drum Corps. Most of our judges have some piano keyboard training, and are familiar with the evaluation of that type of contribution from their concert and winter competitive seasons.
  2. Addition to Original Response: The contributions of the amplified instruments, as well as the musical contributions of electronic sounds and textures, are evaluated within the realm of the music captions. They are not separated out and treated independently from the musical presentations of the corps. There is no "A&E." If there is a concern regarding the balance or alignment, it is mentioned in Music Ensemble adjudication, using the current sheets and guidelines. Credit is only given based upon the achievement of the performers. There are no points for simply owning the equipment. If the amplified or electronic musical contribution enhances the effect and impact of the corps' musical production, credit will be given for the achievement in Music General Effect using the current criteria. There is no removal of points, or ticks, for errors since all of the scoring at DCI is based on a "build-up" system. With the recent re-organization (of the adjudication hierarchy), there are no Caption Heads, per se. Comments from several of the judges who are now Judge Liaisons for Music, and the views of the Task Force advisors were taken into account in writing the original response to the original questions posed. Perhaps we need to examine the view that DCI judging "ignores" the musical contributions of the instruments recently allowed in current competition. It has not been nor will it ever be a "free-for-all"(where corps are rewarded for merely having copious amounts of electronic gadgetry). The Corps Directors and the DCI Executive Director would not permit that to be the case. It is noteworthy, however, that those amplified and electronic contributions have not been added as a single entity (A&E) in a vacuum. They are used in context of the musical production as additional voices, textures, and timbres to broaden the musical palette, and are evaluated in context within the appropriate captions. [Additional Content Provided Below]
  3. Question: In light of the new electronics proposal passing, can you explain specifically how electronics is handled by the DCI judging system? Which captions evaluate A&E and what are their individual responsibilities in that regard? Is there specific language on the judging sheets regarding the use of electronics and amplification? In the past there have been many complaints about the balance of electronics and amplified sound relative to the level of the brass and percussion. Is the quality of this balance adjudicated? Is reinforcing a brass part considered a legitimate use of electronics or is it discouraged ? Sometimes there are clearly technical problems with sound equipment (buzzes, static and other non-desirable sounds). Sometimes the equipment fails and the audience can't hear the intended sound. Are these failures treated the same as undesirable sounds from the brass or percussion? The sound systems seem to be highly directional and focused to judges. Is there an effort to make sure that the entire (or at least a large part of) audience is able to hear a balanced ensemble sound from performing corps? Answer: (from Michael Cesario, DCI Artistic Director) As with anything new, the evaluative process at Drum Corps International grows any time a new idea is adopted. The same is true for Amplification and Electronics. The rules are actually quite specific about what can and cannot be used, but the creativity of the Performers and Arrangers is really just now beginning to be explored. Some timbres and textures that were previously unavailable are finding their way into today's productions, with everything from harp and celeste voices to thunderclaps and ocean sounds becoming part of an expanded musical score. The Music Judges, including Percussion, consider all the voices presented, each according to their caption. Certainly, overbalanced electronic contributions might not garner the same credit that a well-balanced ensemble would receive. In recent weeks, the Voting Membership of DCI passed a rule change to allow the balance of the amplified and electronic voices to be controlled from audience/grandstand/press box areas. Since the acoustic atmosphere changes dramatically from venue to venue, it was felt that the control of volume and balance might be better adjusted from "out front". Much of the aural blend also regards field placement of Percussive and Brass voices. After all, if the tubas are in front of us, we expect to hear them. In fact, they may be featured at that moment, and we would not want an even blanket of non-directional sound to encompass the entire stadium. A broken piece of electronic equipment is treated similarly to a broken drumhead or broken rifle. It may or may not affect the overall impact of the show, the ensemble cohesiveness, or the ability of the performer to achieve excellence. As with those events, the program may not receive the credit it might when all is going smoothly, but there is no specific penalty for an equipment breakdown. [Additional response within thread below]
  4. Question: Please describe the details of the new DCI Tournament of Champions events. What will a typical evening event schedule look like? Will the events be judged like any other DCI show or will there be changes (audience participation?) ? Are corps compensated for appearing just like any other DCI event or is there a change in the disbursement of funds? If TOC events continue into 2012, will the participants again be the top 8 corps from 2010 or are there other criteria involved in the selection of TOC participants? Answer: (from Dan Acheson, DCI Executive Director and CEO) The 2011 DCI Tour of Champions will be comprised of a series of eight events featuring the eight top corps from the 2010 World Championships. The directors and program coordinators of these eight corps will determine how the events will be programmed. Their next meeting to discuss the added features will take place in mid-December. Corps will allow closer audience access during the pre-show warm-up, and there will likely be instant encore performances and a special finale presentation at the end of each event. The competitive performances of each corps will continue to be the cornerstone of the evening, however these shows will be judged differently from the larger Drum Corps International tour. The eight corps will determine how the events are adjudicated but intend to include fan participation. The corps will receive more compensation than typical to assist in covering the extensive deadhead travel necessary in order to bring them all together in the early portion of the season, and also to assist those from the Midwest and the East traveling to the West. There has been no determination as to whether or not the events will continue in 2012 or how the corps will be selected if there should be another series. These are discussions that will be held later in 2011. Look for more details regarding programming and judging to be released after the New Year.
  5. Question: Have there been changes to the judging rubric for the Percussion Caption that have resulted in judges discouraging the use of marching cymbals? it has been said that marching cymbals are discouraged, either visually or musically, and many percussionists are curious as to their speeding demise. Answer: (compiled by DCI Director of Marketing Bob Jacobs from various subject matter experts) There's actually been no rubric change, and cymbals are still judged, like any other voice, for what they can contribute to the show, and how well they do that. Marching crash cymbals can have a somewhat limited usefulness musically, compared to the wide variety of cymbal sounds and metallic timbres we can get from the front ensemble. Given the limitation of performer numbers allowed to compete, it makes sense for a corps to "Max Out" what each percussionist can do. Consequently, we haven't seen many marching crash cymbal lines in the past ten years or so. Certainly SCV, Madison and Academy used marching crash cymbals effectively this past season, and we've seen them used in shows where the performers marched with them for one or two selections, then switched to another percussive voice for other pieces. From a visual standpoint, some audience members find them to be the "frosting on the cake", while others feel that their flashy visuals can sometimes distract from the overall impact. Marching cymbals can present a challenge to modern drill writing, although they can sometimes be used effectively as a visually connective device. DCI Percussion writers orchestrate based on the sounds they want to hear in the total package, and tend to have a preference for how they will write the score for the program at hand. So individual and Corps preference plays a hand. There is no official discouragement or encouragement from the Judging community regarding what instrumentation the corps choose.
  6. Question: Will DCI move the World Championships for the single year that is not currently contracted? Answer: (from Dan Acheson, DCI Executive Director and CEO) When we signed our original contract, there was one year in which the stadium was not available. That is no longer the case, and Lucas Oil Stadium is now available for the entirety of our agreement. Our focus thus far has been on maximizing the experience in Indianapolis and to date we have not expended any resources investigating alternatives should we choose to exercise the option of having the World Championship event leave town for a year.
  7. Question: Is DCI committed to fulfilling the Lucas Oil Stadium contract for the entire 10 year term? Answer: (from Dan Acheson, DCI Executive Director and CEO) The Drum Corps International board of directors fully intends to honor our long term commitment to the city of Indianapolis. The staff and the board of directors are confident our Indianapolis plan best serves the long-term interests of stability, sustainability, and future growth.
  8. Question: What future steps are being taken to mitigate the sound quality problems at LOS, or were the changes that were made for 2010 the extent of what we can expect to see? Answer: (from Dan Acheson, DCI Executive Director and CEO) Each year, their have been tweaks to the interior of Lucas Oil Stadium related to addressing various concerns with acoustics. New in 2010 was the installation of additional insulation panels in the south end around the window. Additional insulation was also added to the top of the press box. Additionally, fans may have noticed that all of the sliding glass windows in the suites throughout the building were opened to eliminate the reflection of sound off of those windows. The ongoing objective of the stadium management is to minimize reflection points to the greatest possible degree whenever possible. Remember too, the plan before the 100 degree heat index we experienced during the week of the DCI World Championships was to open the roof which is widely believed to provide additional remedy as well. Lastly, all the professionals with whom we have consulted related to acoustics agree the number one absorbent of sound is the human body.
  9. Question: Are there continuing efforts being made to create a Drum Corps Museum and Hall of Fame? How can DCP members help? Has there been a Foundation created for fundraising for this project? Answer: (from Bob Jacobs, DCI Director of Marketing) There has been interest shown in organizing the Collectors' and Historical Society, as initially outlined in a news story from March of 2009, however there has not been a formal establishment of any sort of official entity or foundation to this point. The idea is to preserve the history of drum corps in its entirety, and not focus solely on the "DCI Era." Those of us involved in the project would love to get something going so that we could start managing bequests and donations of personal collections to a central repository, as there have been several inquiries to that end. The intention is to eventually grow the foundation into a museum, as a permanent location and/or as a mobile touring exhibition. The exhibit hall established at the DCI World Championships this year was well-received. Now the next steps are for folks to come forward to form a steering committee and to get things off the ground. Interested parties should contact Steve Vickers ( or Bob Jacobs (