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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?

Maybe a little off with the facts, but this is an outstanding synopsis of what went on and the situation overall. Your conclusions regarding motivations, and your arguments regarding instrumentation, I believe, are spot-on. All I know, the subsequent impact over the intervening years on the activity, IMO has been disasterous. Regionalization is gone. Those 100's of corps from Little-town USA, that used to surprise and entertain that you used to look forward to seeing every year, are gone.

Edited by ereese
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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

Some people thinking that drum corps died in 1971 had nothing to do with DCI. In fact DCI did not exist during the summer of 1971. It was about the show designs of a few corps. There were a few corps that completely changed their way of designing a show. Some people hated it and they had t-shirts made. When that happens today, they just rant on DCP.

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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.

To answer your question....a model that is stratified by geography. In other words, a model that promotes local and/or regional levels of participation rather than just national.

Much as we like to pick AL/VFW apart, this is one thing they did. Both AL and VFW held annual state contests all over the country in addition to the nationals. And in some areas, "district" contests were staged as well. It wasn't the most elegant or efficient way to regionalize, but still, it's interesting how the corps population grew under that model, and shrank continuously the instant the national model was promoted above all else.

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To answer your question....a model that is stratified by geography. In other words, a model that promotes local and/or regional levels of participation rather than just national.

Much as we like to pick AL/VFW apart, this is one thing they did. Both AL and VFW held annual state contests all over the country in addition to the nationals. And in some areas, "district" contests were staged as well. It wasn't the most elegant or efficient way to regionalize, but still, it's interesting how the corps population grew under that model, and shrank continuously the instant the national model was promoted above all else.

"Shrank Continuously the Instant etc":

DING, DING DING!!!!!!! :smile: Hold all phone calls Norma Jean, we have a WINNER!!!!!!!! :smile:

Elphaba

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Maybe a little off with the facts, but this is an outstanding synopsis of what went on and the situation overall. Your conclusions regarding motivations, and your arguments regarding instrumentation, I believe, are spot-on. All I know, the subsequent impact over the intervening years on the activity, IMO has been disasterous. Regionalization is gone. Those 100's of corps from Little-town USA, that used to surprise and entertain that you used to look forward to seeing every year, are gone.

"Going, Going, Going...."

Yep. :smile:

Elphaba

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"Going, Going, Going...."

Yep. :smile:

Elphaba

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May I ask, please, what you're conveying? Risks were taken in 71 from what I've read yet drum corps continued?

We stretched the limits back in the old days too. Many threads talk about that special moment in time,

when it was different or wow or something that we saw or heard that left us speechless.

How could 1971 change anything when we're still here? Enlighten me please.

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May I ask, please, what you're conveying? Risks were taken in 71 from what I've read yet drum corps continued?

We stretched the limits back in the old days too. Many threads talk about that special moment in time,

when it was different or wow or something that we saw or heard that left us speechless.

How could 1971 change anything when we're still here? Enlighten me please.

This whole idea that the show design changes that took place in 1971 changed the direction of drum corps is really not correct. In 1971 several corps tried the "total show concept". A show based one or two ideas. If you look at the show designs for the years after 1971, you see the "total show concept" didn't really take hold. While the judges wanted more developed design, the sheets were not changed to reflect this. So generally the corps that tried this new idea didn't really get any credit for it in their scores. If you look at show from the rest of the decade, very few had this type of design. Mostly, just a bunch of pieces put together in an unrelated fashion. It wasn't really until the mid 80's that the design really started to change.

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Fleetwood's 5.0 LP has been mentioned serveral times in this thread. I have to admit that I had not heard it in many years. At the encouragement of one of my buddies, I just purchased a copy from Fleetwood at:

http://www.fleetwoodsounds.com:80/catalog/...products_id=466

Most do not realize that the recordings include (what appears to be) a prepared statement from Ray Baumgardt regarding the Madison Scouts and an eight minute interview with Sandra Opie regarding Argonne and the current state of the activity. The interview was conducted between the 1971 and 1972 seasons, and was on the heels of Argonne's 19.0/5.0 brass performance at the VFW National Championship. I believe it was after the Uniformed Group Congress meeting in Indianappolis.

Sandra's interview was very revealing. You can sense her frustration with the drum corps establishment. It touches most everything discussed in this thread including:

- The different interprepretions of the "Total Show" concept (themed show vs. a musically integrated presentation);

- Musical staging/drill design;

- Corps unwillingness to put the advancement of the activity above their own betterment (the beat the sheets mentality);

- The '68 and '69 Kilties;

- The realization that judging would need to dramatically improve; and

- The sheets would need to be modified to lift restrictions, and reward what was happening on the field.

By listening to the 5.0 interview, watching the '72 DCI Championship show, and reading Jeff Mitchell's post on the Evolution of Scoring Performance (twenty+ years after the fact), you can get a pretty good feel for what was going on in the early 70's. This period was clearly THE crossroads for the activity.

I would again refer you to Jeff Mitchell's post on the Evolution of Scoring Performance (section II - The Era of Transition) at:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.ma...32f13681d7b7c09

There were differing interpretations of the "Total Show Concept". Musical evolution through the 70's was substantial. Those changes did take hold, and were contantly evolving. If your view of the "Total Show" was one of a themed/theatrical presentation, ....not so much. The thought that shows during this period were piece together may be a little misplaced (IMHO).

Edited by jkyeag
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There were differing interpretations of the "Total Show Concept".

The much-ballyhooed Total Show Concept in 1971 turned out to be not much more than what one might witness at a middle-school talent show.

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This whole idea that the show design changes that took place in 1971 changed the direction of drum corps is really not correct. In 1971 several corps tried the "total show concept". A show based one or two ideas. If you look at the show designs for the years after 1971, you see the "total show concept" didn't really take hold. While the judges wanted more developed design, the sheets were not changed to reflect this. So generally the corps that tried this new idea didn't really get any credit for it in their scores. If you look at show from the rest of the decade, very few had this type of design. Mostly, just a bunch of pieces put together in an unrelated fashion. It wasn't really until the mid 80's that the design really started to change.

And of course, we are now at the point in DCI that judges are being encouraged to meet with Corps show designers this year in pre season , so that the Corps show designers can explain in a coherent and rational manner just what exactly their 2010 season's " Total Show Concept " will really be all about for that Corps.

This would be akin to a movie or broadway show newspaper critic meeting with a movie or show producer before the movie or show opens to have EXPLAINED to them what their movie or their show will be trying to convey as it's theme.

This just demonstrates how far off the track the activity has gone, when a judge needs to meet with show designers over cocktails to have the show designers EXPLAIN to the judges what the hell the show and music are all about in this age of " The Total ( ly confused ) Show Concept ", where admittedly even many of the learned judges don't have a friggin' clue as to the " Total Concept " that many of these DCI Corps are trying to convey on the field these days.

Edited by BRASSO
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