fifer

Forget Woodwinds – Beware of WGI

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Ya! Let's go back to color guard doing nothing but drop spins. It's oh so entertaining.

If you don't like guard integration, might I suggest getting your music heavy fix from a symphony, jazz group, or rock show.

I think the idea is in the way shows are designed and presented.

Colorguards are very sophisticated now, true, but gone is that snap precision and unison. In its place is too much free for all, individual expression crap that works well indoors but does little to actually aid and enhane a drum corps show.

G

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My first impression was to agree with you. But then I gave the subject a bit more thought and, I have to say, things just don't add up.

When I think "show design," I think of the overall package, how everything "works together" (or doesn't). Thus, and maybe I'm misinterpreting your intent, I inferred your post to be a concern that visual elements (specifically color guard) are being given more weight by the judges (specifically in visual effect, implying that the focus of visual effect judging has gotten away from drill and now rests heavily with color guard and, shall we say, "stage design").

So, I decided to look through the recaps the past ten years, to see if there was a correlation between color guard scores and visual effect scores. Surprisingly (to me), there was not one. The corps that took high guard took high visual GE only 6 out of 10 times, and the DCI Champion has won High Guard also only 6 of the past 10 years: barely better than 50-50. True, the DCI Champion has placed first in visual ensemble 7 of the past 10 years... but the DCI Champion has taken the musical ensemble sub-caption 9 of the past 10 years; in fact, 2009 was the first time since 1998 that the DCI Champ did not win the musical ensemble sub-caption.

So that's the top, what about the middle? Well, the Blue Stars with all their prop tables had a higher guard score than the Bluecoats or Crusaders in 2009, but trailed both corps in visual effect. Back in 2007, the Cavaliers took high guard but finished 3rd in visual effect, and Carolina Crown was 2nd in guard but 6th in visual effect. So guard success doesn't guarantee visual effect success, but does a (comparatively) poor guard showing preclude visual effect success? Also no: the 2000 Blue Devils, 2004 Cavaliers, and 2006 Phantom Regiment all took high visual effect despite being 3rd in guard, and the 2007 Cadets took high visual effect yet were 4th in guard.

As for designing a show (or sections of a show) around a visual concept or props, this is by no means groundbreaking stuff:

2008 Cadets' sofa

2007 Crown's fences

2005 Cavaliers' ladders

2002 Crusaders' banners and portraits

1995 Vanguard's spinning eyesores

1994 Vanguard's red poppies

1993 Regiment's helmets-as-tombstones

1992 Star's big banners

1989 Vanguard's disappearing Phantom

etc.

Lastly, let's not forget that this past summer Santa Clara had their highest score in five years (and second highest of the decade) with a show that was pretty much entirely about the musical presentation.

So, in the end, I guess my verdict would have to be this is much ado about nothing. There is a popular perception that DCI is rewarding visual creativity at the expense of the musical product, but that perception just doesn't seem to mesh with the reality of the numbers.

[edited to correct spelling/tense mistakes]

LOL, that made me crack up SCV's "spinning eyesores" ....just a simple case of left over 94 "poppies" props and not wanting to get rid of them so soon...again, LOL LOL

G

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I think the idea is in the way shows are designed and presented.

Colorguards are very sophisticated now, true, but gone is that snap precision and unison. In its place is too much free for all, individual expression crap that works well indoors but does little to actually aid and enhane a drum corps show.

G

Easy to be "perfect" when all the guard is doing is right hands spins, flip to reverse, left hand spins...repeat.

No precision and unison? Wow. I mean really, what shows have you been watching? Full rifle line tosses of 4, 5, and 6's. Glorious unison flag work. Intricate saber work. All of it precise as heck in the top tier.

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Ever since Dan Acheson and company decided to primarily market to the marching music enthusiast in the late 90's, each change (multi key, amps, electronics, more shows in domes away from the elements, woodwinds in the pit . . .or more . . .soon) is part and parcel of morphing DCI into a primarily indoor activity that will end up as the summer cross-pollination of WGI/BOA.

Yuck.

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Easy to be "perfect" when all the guard is doing is right hands spins, flip to reverse, left hand spins...repeat.

No precision and unison? Wow. I mean really, what shows have you been watching? Full rifle line tosses of 4, 5, and 6's. Glorious unison flag work. Intricate saber work. All of it precise as heck in the top tier.

Not even close, my friend, and Ive been watching shows since 1979.

Ensemble work is getting harder and harder to come by, sure a few moments here and there but way too much breaking off into little sections doing whatever, too many layers of opposing work, hard to tell whos really "got it" when there isnt much to measure by in terms of unison.

G

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Easy to be "perfect" when all the guard is doing is right hands spins, flip to reverse, left hand spins...repeat.

Im not talking 1974, go watch 1991 Cadets, or 1996 Cadets, or 99 Blue Devils, 94 Scouts.

G

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I totally agree with you...........

Until 1994, music was 65 percent of the score.....and 6 music judges to 3 visual....by 2000, it was "gunned down" to 50/50 and an even split with the judges. The judge education leadership at DCI are WGI people. Many veteran music and brass judges have left the activity. Corps with strong visual programs somehow seem to "automatically" get inflated music marks, even if they seem questionable......scoring spreads in the musical captions among contenders are rare, but commonplace in visual.

We have great musical products without any weakness which brought the house down coming in 5th and also losing music effect, while two programs with musical deficiencies are in the top 4. DCI just signed a long term contract with a venue that is arguably the worst sounding championship stadium in DCI's history.....so bad, that from up top, the product can not be properly evaluated from a musical standpoint. There was a proposal by the education director, who is a WGI individual, to eliminate music effect/visual effect separations, and only have a single effect caption (it was defeated.....imagine have a color guard/visual judge making finite calls between musical products).

Unless there is a quick "changing of the guard" in judging leadership and re-education of all of the music caption judging, DCI will continue on it's course of rapidly becoming "WGI Summer Division", and the musical products will be an afterthought/secondary to the visual presentations.

GB

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I totally agree with you...........

Until 1994, music was 65 percent of the score.....and 6 music judges to 3 visual....by 2000, it was "gunned down" to 50/50 and an even split with the judges. The judge education leadership at DCI are WGI people. Many veteran music and brass judges have left the activity. Corps with strong visual programs somehow seem to "automatically" get inflated music marks, even if they seem questionable......scoring spreads in the musical captions among contenders are rare, but commonplace in visual.

We have great musical products without any weakness which brought the house down coming in 5th and also losing music effect, while two programs with musical deficiencies are in the top 4. DCI just signed a long term contract with a venue that is arguably the worst sounding championship stadium in DCI's history.....so bad, that from up top, the product can not be properly evaluated from a musical standpoint. There was a proposal by the education director, who is a WGI individual, to eliminate music effect/visual effect separations, and only have a single effect caption (it was defeated.....imagine have a color guard/visual judge making finite calls between musical products).

Unless there is a quick "changing of the guard" in judging leadership and re-education of all of the music caption judging, DCI will continue on it's course of rapidly becoming "WGI Summer Division", and the musical products will be an afterthought/secondary to the visual presentations.

GB

Would you agree with me that Phantom's music was championship worthy? I thought so. I think they're the poster child for the argument you're making.

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I personally love WGI and openly welcome more WGI-esque type themes in DCI!

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