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KeithHall

Is There A Difference?

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I also believe that from the 40s-80s drum and bugle corps were soooooo much better and different than the average HS band that folks were willing to go to shows because drum corps was something completely different. People seem to have forgotten (or weren't around) before say the 90s, most HS bands were show style-kind of like the traditionally black/collegiate style: high steppers, hacking drum lines, goofy dancing half-time shows, etc. In that context seeing even the smallest, most primitive drum corps was a revelation to the musicians and audience. Drum corps was light years ahead of HS band and these days, it's just not.

It was the large number of bands adopting the "corps-style" show design concepts that brought the two close together. This was due to a number of factors...the primary one being that drum corps alums becoming music teachers in larger number through the 70's and onward.

These newer directors hired corps instructors/arrangers, who were glad for the work as the hundreds of small local corps were fading away.

They also believed that the competitions they had participated in while marching corps were beneficial, so there was a huge explosion in the competitive band world through the 70's and later, at least here in my area, NJ. Judges werer glad to get the work, so circuits in my are like TOB and later EMBA thrived through the 80's, and now there is CMBC/USSBA/USBands in the mix.

This circle continued, of alums becoming band directors, and bringing the corps approach to the scholastic band world continued to expand.

This was a good thing, IMO, as it also provided the fewer remaining corps with potential members and a newer audience.

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The criticism sometimes offered by us "crotchety old people" is NOT, repeat, NOT directed at the marching members. We KNOW they are great kids, just as dedicated and hard-working as those of any era, and that they love this activity just as passionately as anyone can. And we know they give their all and deliver very exciting and entertaining performances. It's not that we're nay-saying for its own sake or that we're negative people w/ a critical outlook. It's that we're terribly sad because we miss what drum corps once was and we wish it could be that way again. Not only for ourselves, but for this generation and generations to come. The differences between drum corps now and BITD aren't small and superficial. Another poster very eloquently pointed out the profound impact large numbers of community-based corps had on the lives of thousands of young people. This is the most important thing that's missing now. While present day corps serve the relatively small number of participants very well and can still be a saving force in young lives, it's not the tremendous force for good it once was. It would be so great if DCI would seriously undertake to bring back grass roots drum corps along the lines of the Garden State Circuit and provide leadership training and a competitive framework for these low-budget corps. The other thing that's different in a big way IMO is the raw musical power and impact of corps of the 70s/80s era. Again, I'm talking about show design here, NOT performance level. Part of it is the volume difference w/ G vs. Bb horns, and I know the real financial reasons for this, but G horns are not illegal and they are still sold, and someone could field such a line if they wished to. Most of it is visual vs. music in judging and show design. Of course, the former determines the latter. BITD, music comprised 2/3 of the total score; today it's 1/2. Hence the chop and bop style of arranging to compliment visual design as opposed to a fully developed, sophisticated, completely musical arrangement which is faithful to the original piece. Not to say this is never done anymore, but seems to be more exception than rule.

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The criticism sometimes offered by us "crotchety old people" is NOT, repeat, NOT directed at the marching members. We KNOW they are great kids, just as dedicated and hard-working as those of any era, and that they love this activity just as passionately as anyone can. And we know they give their all and deliver very exciting and entertaining performances. It's not that we're nay-saying for its own sake or that we're negative people w/ a critical outlook. It's that we're terribly sad because we miss what drum corps once was and we wish it could be that way again. Not only for ourselves, but for this generation and generations to come. The differences between drum corps now and BITD aren't small and superficial. Another poster very eloquently pointed out the profound impact large numbers of community-based corps had on the lives of thousands of young people. This is the most important thing that's missing now. While present day corps serve the relatively small number of participants very well and can still be a saving force in young lives, it's not the tremendous force for good it once was. It would be so great if DCI would seriously undertake to bring back grass roots drum corps along the lines of the Garden State Circuit and provide leadership training and a competitive framework for these low-budget corps. The other thing that's different in a big way IMO is the raw musical power and impact of corps of the 70s/80s era. Again, I'm talking about show design here, NOT performance level. Part of it is the volume difference w/ G vs. Bb horns, and I know the real financial reasons for this, but G horns are not illegal and they are still sold, and someone could field such a line if they wished to. Most of it is visual vs. music in judging and show design. Of course, the former determines the latter. BITD, music comprised 2/3 of the total score; today it's 1/2. Hence the chop and bop style of arranging to compliment visual design as opposed to a fully developed, sophisticated, completely musical arrangement which is faithful to the original piece. Not to say this is never done anymore, but seems to be more exception than rule.

Can't say I agree with you point by point across the board, but for the most part your points are well taken and well stated, especially the stuff about the social impact of the activity in days gone by.

I think the o.p.'s complaint is more with the self-styled defenders of the old school - self-congratulatory hard liners who make wrong-headed statements like "we didn't need 20 tubas," or "we didn't prance around like..." Comments of that nature, whether intentionally or not, take aim directly at the kids on the field. I can see no justification for all that chest-thumping bigger/stronger/holier diatribe. If their experience back in the day was truly as wonderful as those folks say, there should be no reason for them to have to try and validate it by belittling the experiences of the current generation.

Peace,

Fred O.

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The criticism sometimes offered by us "crotchety old people" is NOT, repeat, NOT directed at the marching members. We KNOW they are great kids, just as dedicated and hard-working as those of any era, and that they love this activity just as passionately as anyone can. And we know they give their all and deliver very exciting and entertaining performances. It's not that we're nay-saying for its own sake or that we're negative people w/ a critical outlook. It's that we're terribly sad because we miss what drum corps once was and we wish it could be that way again. Not only for ourselves, but for this generation and generations to come. The differences between drum corps now and BITD aren't small and superficial. Another poster very eloquently pointed out the profound impact large numbers of community-based corps had on the lives of thousands of young people. This is the most important thing that's missing now. While present day corps serve the relatively small number of participants very well and can still be a saving force in young lives, it's not the tremendous force for good it once was.

Just as we were, current members are invested in THEIR corps. Trashing what they do, and how they do it, even if not directly aimed at the members, will have an impact on how they look at the "crotchety old people"...it would have in our day as well.

It would be so great if DCI would seriously undertake to bring back grass roots drum corps along the lines of the Garden State Circuit and provide leadership training and a competitive framework for these low-budget corps.

It is not DCI's job to do any such thing. Where do the corps come from for such a circuit? Go ahead and start up 6 or 7 corps in a small geographic area if you want something like that. DCI is made up of the corps that participate...it does not get involved in starting them.

The competitive scholastic bands have taken over the slot that used to be filled by the small corps. I'd look there if I were interested in such an endeavor. It make more logistical and financial sense.

The other thing that's different in a big way IMO is the raw musical power and impact of corps of the 70s/80s era. Again, I'm talking about show design here, NOT performance level. Part of it is the volume difference w/ G vs. Bb horns, and I know the real financial reasons for this, but G horns are not illegal and they are still sold, and someone could field such a line if they wished to. Most of it is visual vs. music in judging and show design. Of course, the former determines the latter. BITD, music comprised 2/3 of the total score; today it's 1/2. Hence the chop and bop style of arranging to compliment visual design as opposed to a fully developed, sophisticated, completely musical arrangement which is faithful to the original piece. Not to say this is never done anymore, but seems to be more exception than rule.

When it comes to the shows...in general I'll take today's shows over any earlier era, understanding that there were some marvelous shows back then too.

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Just as we were, current members are invested in THEIR corps. Trashing what they do, and how they do it, even if not directly aimed at the members, will have an impact on how they look at the "crotchety old people"...it would have in our day as well.

I'm not trashing their corps either. At all. I'm just saying yes, there are real differences. And we're not haters and knee-jerk reactionaries. We are just saddened by how the activity has changed and there are valid reasons.

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I'm not trashing their corps either. At all. I'm just saying yes, there are real differences. And we're not haters and knee-jerk reactionaries. We are just saddened by how the activity has changed and there are valid reasons.

We were speaking generically, I thought. I in no way intended to signify you personally. I was discussing the "crotchety old people" as a group. There is waaaay too much (IMO) negative commentary by people who should knwo better...who went through some of it themselves when they were the cutting edge members...though of course, with no internet, it was at a much lower level...localized griping and complaining was about it back then, outside of some letters-to-the-editor of outlets like DCN.

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Electronics and amplification have really turned me off. I keep trying to give it more chances, because I loved drum corps for a long time, but it just isn't what I'm looking for anymore.

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"Electronics and amplification have really turned me off. I keep trying to give it more chances, because I loved drum corps for a long time, but it just isn't what I'm looking for anymore."

+1

Yes, it was a very different animal BITD. Junior drum corps was a youth activity. Corps were small. Many urban corps serviced a single neighborhood. Most of the members knew everyone in their corps. Most of them knew everyone in all the corps they competed against. Less than 10% of all contemporary corps ever went to a National contest. There was very little touring. Most corps existed simply to give a valuable social activity to their members. A few still exist. Some did have a wider horizon, but for the group in New Jersey/New York City, or Boston, or Philadelphia, or Chicago/Wisconsin, their participation was simply to validate their individual local water making contests. Little more.

Oh; and there were a positive truckload of fairly evenly matched corps, primarily because none of them had any kind of serious money behind them. Corps were fanatically supported by their individual communities because everyone in town knew all the members, and all their families. They were their neighbors.

Was it better? It depends of what is important in your individual thinking. BITD drum corps was inclusive. If you wanted to join, come on down to rehearsal and sign up. Don't know anything about music, or marching? No problem. We'll teach you.

So, if being a positive service to a vastly larger number of people is important to you, then yes; drum corps was incomparably better then than it is now. Those old corps also produced a lot of very accomplished musicians as well.

If providing valuable tools for a very limited number of already accomplished musicians to add to their resumes is important to you, then yes, today's corps have a colossal advantage over corps BITD.

I don't condemn today's version of a drum corps. They are technical and artistic marvels compared to the neighborhood corps of old.

The question was; are they different? the answer is yes; in almost every conceivable way.

Edited by reallyoldfrt
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When Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Festival the crowd went "What the.....?"

What happened when Bobby Hoffman turned St. Andrew's Bridgemen into THE Bridgemen? What was you thinking, if you are old enough?

What was your thoughts when in in 1974 you are playing a valve/rotor horn and in 1975 you are playing a 2 valve horn?

Single tenors to double tenors? Double tenors to triples?

G to Bb?

No grounding of timps and keyboards to a Pit?

Symetrical drills to asymetrical drills?

Did they all really make a difference? If so....positive or negative?

Discuss please!

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The criticism sometimes offered by us "crotchety old people" is NOT, repeat, NOT directed at the marching members. We KNOW they are great kids, just as dedicated and hard-working as those of any era, and that they love this activity just as passionately as anyone can. And we know they give their all and deliver very exciting and entertaining performances. It's not that we're nay-saying for its own sake or that we're negative people w/ a critical outlook. It's that we're terribly sad because we miss what drum corps once was and we wish it could be that way again. Not only for ourselves, but for this generation and generations to come. The differences between drum corps now and BITD aren't small and superficial. Another poster very eloquently pointed out the profound impact large numbers of community-based corps had on the lives of thousands of young people. This is the most important thing that's missing now. While present day corps serve the relatively small number of participants very well and can still be a saving force in young lives, it's not the tremendous force for good it once was. It would be so great if DCI would seriously undertake to bring back grass roots drum corps along the lines of the Garden State Circuit and provide leadership training and a competitive framework for these low-budget corps. The other thing that's different in a big way IMO is the raw musical power and impact of corps of the 70s/80s era. Again, I'm talking about show design here, NOT performance level. Part of it is the volume difference w/ G vs. Bb horns, and I know the real financial reasons for this, but G horns are not illegal and they are still sold, and someone could field such a line if they wished to. Most of it is visual vs. music in judging and show design. Of course, the former determines the latter. BITD, music comprised 2/3 of the total score; today it's 1/2. Hence the chop and bop style of arranging to compliment visual design as opposed to a fully developed, sophisticated, completely musical arrangement which is faithful to the original piece. Not to say this is never done anymore, but seems to be more exception than rule.

What he said ... mostly. As to being elite, well I never was ... in our day most Drum Corps were of the blue collar variety ... we worked our butts off all fall and winter and then went out and did what we were taught. We were judged according to how well we executed - pretty much cut and dried unless you got a cadre of judges who plain didn't like you (and there were a few of them!) All in all (and I totally don't know anything much about the mid seventies to about '81/'83 because I was just plain angry at DCI!) Have come to like many shows during the past few decades and have every faith that the activity will get better. My biggest gripe is how amplification has hurt the horn sound (I mean, what the heck would a corps like the Brassmen would have done with 50 plus horns, 12 of them being Contras????) and the fact the biggest show of the year is in the very worst venue ever to be considered for music of any kind.

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