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"The year DCI allows woodwinds, guitars and keyboards will be the year drum corps will truly die."

Until that day, enjoy what drew you to this activity as much as you can.

Looks like we are there. I think this is were I jump off the band wagon.

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Mike their drum line wasn't just "very good".  They took high drums at VFW Nationals in 68 and were undefeated!  That was a killer drum line.

Ken Norman

lol I just realized this thread is 10 years old....lol

Looks like we are there. I think this is were I jump off the band wagon.

CRAP! and I've got two years of tour left before my son ages out. I was hoping the apocalypse would be delayed at least until then.

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Interesting discussion about whether or not drum corps died in 1971 but I have to disagree about the idea that DCI was started by drum corps as a means to allow the activity to evolve outside of the constraints that the American Legion and VFW enforced with their rules. The way I see it is that when the "Combine" was organized in the fall of 1970, it was solely a business decision. A business alliance was formed between a handful of the top drum corps to further their financial interests. The founders of the "Combine" and later DCI could have cared less about the rest of the activity otherwise they would have included them from the beginning. Their theory was that if the top drum corps bundled themselves as a package they would be more atrractive to show sponsors. It would result in larger audiences which would make more money for show sponsors which in turn would result in more money for appearance fees. It was felt at the time that people only really wanted to see the Cavaliers, Madison Scouts, and other top corps, and as a result it was felt that a bundled group of top drum corps would be a very attractive option for show sponsors.

The other main reason that the "Combine" and later DCI was organized was because it gave the organizers control over some aspects of the activity which they previously lacked. The top corps now were in the position to make their own rules and train and hire their own judges. Important to remember, after DCI was organized only a handful of drum corps controlled the activity by making the rules and training and hiring the judges. Never under DCI was the whole activity ever included in decision making. I also have trouble understanding how DCI can claim that it was organized by the drum corps activity. That simply is not true! In fact, some of the top corps in the country were excluded from the "Combine" and DCI simply because they were not liked by the founding corps directors.

I believe that the main reason that the DCI Championship was originally organized, held, and was open to all drum corps was because contest sponsors wanted to be sure that they were getting the best bundle of drum corps, not some also rans. It was common back in the pre-DCI era for corps to come and go and having a national championship was the only way for the DCI limited business partnership to determine which corps were going to be in the DCI bundle to be offered to show sponsors the following year. This became especially important as the Kilties, Des Plaines Vanguard, Hathorne Muchahos, St. Rita's Brassmen and Blue Raiders made DCI finals in 1972 and they were originally snubbed by the organizers of DCI. Although this was somewhat embarrassing to the DCI founding corps, having their own championship now provided DCI with a mechanism to determine who the drum corps were going to be in next year's bundle.

To think that the drum corps activity as a whole was so fed up with the American Legion and the VFW that it couldn't wait to get out from under their wings is really false. Many good corps in the 1970s never competed at a DCI contest such as the Racine Scouts. The whole cadet corps activty and most of the smaller corps didn't either. DCI wasn't set up to accomodate these lesser corps nor was DCI an attractive opportunity for any but maybe the top 25 or so corps. In fact, and Brian Tolzman can correct me if I'm wrong, but probably in the neighborhood of 400 drum corps didn't compete at the 1972 DCI Championship, so that would hardly indicate that the activity was embracing and flocking to DCI. Also the 1971 VFW Nationals held in out-of-the-way Dallas, TX was one of the best attended VFW Nationals by top corps ever including "Combine" corps. If the organizing DCI corps had such a real problem with the VFW as DCI claims, it was only because they couldn't make their own rules and hire their own judges. It's good to be king!

So, in my opinion DCI initially was all about the top corps controlling the rules, judges and maximizing the amount of money they could reap from the activty. There was little to no concern about what was good for the activty as a whole. That's why almost nothing is left of it.

Another comment, with over 40 competing bands in Wisconsin either during the summer or in the fall, why would anyone think that any of the handful of Wisconsin's DCI corps "need" to add woodwinds to get more people involved in the activity. Bands already have a very viable and growing activity of their own, why would DCI think they need to expand their instrumentation to include woodwinds in order to give woodwind players the opportunity to enjoy a competing band. Let's see, I can play my flute for the Phantom Regiment for $2,500 tuition this summer, or march in my high school band for almost nothing, get a half credit for summer school, keep my part-time job and see my significant other all summer.

If you want your drum corps to convert into a band, go for it! There are plenty of circuits for you to compete in throughout the US and Canada. Why impose this on the whole activity. I would hope that many of DCI's corps would opt out and become members of DCA when DCI decides to add woodwinds.

Also it is thought that adding woodwinds to drum corps would add fans. Did anyone ever do a study on this? I go to band competitions and I rarely see a drum corps jacket or shirt being worn at one except if there's a drum corps in exhibition at one. For the most part the fans in the stands at a band contest are family, friends and and recent band alumni. The stands certainly are not packed with drum corps fans and drum corps alumni! I see far more people wearing band jackets at drum corps shows. Band people seem to enjoy drum corps; drum corps people don't seem to enjoy band contests as much. So why add woodwinds expecting to gain fans? I don't think it would happen, band fans are already attending drum corps contests. I could understand a "need" for the drum corps activity to add woodwinds if the activity was losing large number of fans to the band activity, but that is hardly the case! Also I could see a "need" for the drum corps activity to add woodwinds for creativity or opportunity if there weren't already hundreds of competing marching bands throughout North America already. Besides, how much more creative can a drum corps be as a band than any of the other existing bands?

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They definitely would have been a finalist in 1973...

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They definitely would have been a finalist in 1973...

I agree...... wonderful corps that year.

Fran

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"Their theory was that if the top drum corps bundled themselves as a package they would be more attractive to show sponsors."

Sounds like collective bargaining. The use of the term 'union' was an apt comparison.

The thing that is disappointing about 1971 is that over time since that year, competition in the business of producing junior drum corps shows has decreased. It's DCI or else - no VFW, Legion, U.S. Open, etc. It seems DCI helped eliminate that kind of competition. By comparison, although there is a WGI (a unifying organization), in color guard there doesn't seem to be a similar monopoly - and unless I'm mistaken the guard activity seems to be thriving (more guards & winter percussion lines, more competition venues rather than less).

Edited by Achilles
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...and unless I'm mistaken the guard activity seems to be thriving (more guards & winter percussion lines, more competition venues rather than less).

Of course, competitive guard is a less expensive proposition across the board. You can move a viable competing guard around in a couple of station wagons and an econoline van. Don't need three over-the-road buses, 40 or 80 bugles, battery percussion or semi full of pit equipment. And you don't need 150 kids and a 26 member teaching staff to compete at the top level. Likewise for indoor percussion, more or less - a more compact package across the board than a summertime full corps road show.

Not saying that the winter thing is a better or worser activity - just not as high maintenance.

Peace,

Fred O.

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Of course, competitive guard is a less expensive proposition across the board.

Not saying that the winter thing is a better or worser activity - just not as high maintenance.

Peace,

Fred O.

Agreed, with some snippage. But that's always been the case - a season of guard activity has always been quite a bit less expensive than one of corps. Both before and after 71 and the advent of DCI.

I still believe that the formation of the DCI monopoly has contributed to an overall decrease in the activity level (in terms of number of junior shows, number of active corps). Conversely - the number of competitive HS bands and competitions has increased in that same time, though. DCI's model seems to be closer to the major league sports franchise model - NFL, etc. - where the league 'owns' the product, and the barrier to entry seems ever higher. I wonder what model would, or could, lead to a larger number of shows or competitive corps.

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Agreed, with some snippage. But that's always been the case - a season of guard activity has always been quite a bit less expensive than one of corps. Both before and after 71 and the advent of DCI.

True, though I think the increase in cost has been much more substantial for a summertime corps than for a winter program.

I still believe that the formation of the DCI monopoly has contributed to an overall decrease in the activity level (in terms of number of junior shows, number of active corps).

Yeah, no argument, though there are certainly any number of social and economic factors that have had a significant impact on the activity as well.

I wonder what model would, or could, lead to a larger number of shows or competitive corps?

A free set of dinnerware to the guy who figures that one out!

regards,

Fred O.

Edited by drumno5
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