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Apologies if this link has already been posted, but the Marching Round table guys had a discussion of the brass rule changes. The whole discussion is almost an hour long, but an interesting look at various points of view.

One of the participants was a past Finals judge, and in fact judged GE Music at last year's World Class Prelims. Is it just me, or did it seem like Joe (and others) were basically saying to those opposed to the rule change (without actually saying it) "You're entitled to your opinion, but your opinion is obselete?"

http://www.marchingroundtable.com/2014/02/16/290-trombones-dci/

Edited by wolfgang
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Idiomatic? Since when did that become the standard? Ninety-five percent of all music ever performed by a drum and bugle corps was not composed for drum and bugle corps. Even Sousa wrote woodwinds into

If Joe Allison wants to contend that the Madison '88 baritone solo would have been "more idiomatic" with a trombone, and that a high school wind ensemble which played one of the Holst suites with nine

First NAMBLA, and now Caligula. Stu, you are so lost in your own sauce, man. Come up for air.

Well, Stu should be amused that Joe Allison defends new drum corps instrumentation on the grounds that "this is marching music's major league". Pay no attention to the judge using the sports metaphor behind the curtain!

Thanks for posting that link. It's a fairly interesting discussion, if a bit one-sided. Really, though, there isn't much said in that podcast, on either side of the argument, that hasn't already been said here on DCP. Accordingly, I look forward to people commenting about how nobody in DCI takes those Marching Roundtable folks very seriously.

And in fact, in some ways, DCP discussions of this subject have been more intelligent. Probably because it's easier to compose your thoughts when writing, but also because the panelists, despite their credentials, haven't given enough thought to the ramifications of their arguments, and in at least one case, don't know as much about DCI as many contributors to these forums do. I almost choked when one them asked another if the rules before last month required corps to use only Bb instruments. And it's weird that at least two of the speakers either didn't know that Madison Scouts were the corps who proposed this change, or pretended not to know.

Anyway, the key takeaway from listening to this podcast should be that the most ardent defenders of trombones in drum corps are also proponents of woodwinds in drum corps, though sometimes they pretend otherwise.

Joe Allison's argument that Madison '88's baritone solo would have been "more idiomatic" (and thus preferable) if it had been a trombone solo is also an argument in favor of woodwinds. So is Matthew Parunak's argument about experienced college players being told by their instructors that they can only participate in marching band (and presumably drum corps) if they remain on their primary instrument.

Allison soon half-acknowledges that he's on this "slippery slope", though at times he mocks that argument: how dare Tim Hinton suggest that this change could lead to woodwinds? But later Allison admits that he would welcome the addition of woodwinds. At first he does this somewhat evasively but eventually (at about the 46:30 mark), after getting worked up by Hinton's rather mild counter-arguments, Allison states this wholeheartedly. (And what reason does he give for supporting woodwinds? "That's my life! ... Raise your hand if you're not making money off of woodwinds!" As often, we must follow the money.) I will certainly grant his point that electronics, and some other changes through the years, were a much bigger change in themselves than trombones, sousaphones, and French horns will be. But it's not like he's arguing for the abolition of electronics from drum corps. Apparently he thinks all change is "progress" since he mocks Hinton's position as "regressive". See my signature for the obvious response.

Also notice that Allison argues at one point that the possibility of trombones will give drum corps the chance to sound different from one another, in response to the claim, with which he apparently agrees, that too many corps all sound the same, but at another point he hints that corps will soon have to use trombones, because judges will start to expect that extra element. So much for variety!

Greg Basham says at one point in defense of DCI's potential use of French horns that "At least you still buzz your lips on a mouthpiece". This implies that he wouldn't want woodwinds in drum corps. But later he's "offended" that "band" is being used by Tim Hinton as a "dirty word", which suggests that Basham doesn't care if the two activities blend. (Kudos to Hinton, who's generally not very good at defending his position, at this point for at least trying to explain the idea that there ought to be a uniqueness to drum corps. To which Allison immediately sneers, as is his wont throughout the discussion, that he doesn't see much difference between them anymore--which is just Hinton's point! Allison the enabler is apparently incapable of recognizing the irony here.) But then Basham makes his position absolutely clear when he says he'd rather have a drum corps play Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 with clarinets than mallets. To which one might as well ask, why not strings, then? Why not have the players sit for the entire show like a real orchestra? Why not allow corps to play or the full 50 minutes Shostakovich's piece requires as originally written? After all, as Allison says at one point, DCI and BOA shouldn't be making rules that limit the corps' choices. (But can you really trust someone--a judge no less!--who says that show designers are "brilliant minds" who "always come through" with shows that "wow" the audience?)

Later Allison completely contradicts himself without realizing it, when first he discusses an occasion where a high school wind ensemble "played one of the Holst suites with nine bell-front euphoniums and no trombones" and he calls that a "sacrilege", despite having said that all instruments should be welcome in drum corps because it's wrong to "limit artistic choices". On what grounds can he possibly claim that it was wrong for that wind ensemble to expand their artistic choices?

Finally, Basham's claim that if a corps like Crown or BD or Cadets thought that it was artistically important to use a woodwind instrument and take a deduction in points, then they would do so is ludicrous. When was the last time a Finalist-caliber corps deliberately risked a penalty for the sake of artistic achievement? Even Boston, a lock for Finals after Prelims but with no shot at a medal by that point, didn't use the baby powder last year after they were penalized for it in Prelims. If it were the case that top corps really would take such risks, then George Hopkins need never have bothered with all his rules proposals through the years! Any corps who wanted to use electronics or amplification or woodwinds before they were permitted would have done so. But who actually used a synthesizer before 2009, because they felt they had to for the sake of their musical selection? (I think they were wrong, as it happens, but never mind that.) The 1985 Boston Crusaders, who finished in 20th place with little chance of moving higher than 19th place no matter whether "Axel F" included a keyboard or not.

(Edited to fix a couple typos.)

Edited by N.E. Brigand
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Regarding the "Major league" comment - Let's look at the REAL Major Leagues (ie - baseball). Do they offer more choices, or force the best to work within some contstraints? To the best of my knowledge, there is only one level of baseball in America that uses wooden bats by rule (Major League and it's professional minor league affiliates). College, High School, on down all use aluminum bats. Likewise, what's wrong with "Marching Music's Major League" arrangers using all their creative skills within certain constraints?

Using a percussion example, would '91 SCV "Miss Saigon," if it were done in 2014, use a helicopter patch, or would the drums have created that sound effect like in 1991? Which would be more impressive to the viewer?

Edited by wolfgang
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And in fact, in some ways, DCP discussions of this subject have been more intelligent. Probably because it's easier to compose your thoughts when writing, but also because the panelists, despite their credentials, haven't given enough thought to the ramifications of their arguments

So true.

There is no better way to develop your thought process than to engage in discussion with contrasting viewpoints. In an online forum such as this, there are an unlimited number of such viewpoints, and no time limit on the discussion.

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Good analysis, N.E.

It's important to understand, most of these guys are more than satisfied to do WHATEVER it takes to keep the paycheck coming. Kinda like many of members of our U.S. Congress. To remain in place, they MUST appear to be at the forefront of everything, on the cutting-edge, visionary, and indispensible. Their employers simply NEED them! But, more importantly, they must continually change. To always pursue change means to keep actual accountability at bay. Every idea is thus new and requires more time. Notice how people at the upper levels of the corporate world rarely stick around in one position very long? Hmmmm.

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Regarding the "Major league" comment - Let's look at the REAL Major Leagues (ie - baseball). Do they offer more choices, or force the best to work within some contstraints? To the best of my knowledge, there is only one level of baseball in America that uses wooden bats by rule (Major League and it's professional minor league affiliates). College, High School, on down all use aluminum bats. Likewise, what's wrong with "Marching Music's Major League" arrangers using all their creative skills within certain constraints?

Using a percussion example, would '91 SCV "Miss Saigon," if it were done in 2014, use a helicopter patch, or would the drums have created that sound effect like in 1991? Which would be more impressive to the viewer?

Two interesting questions.

No doubt in my mind that a DCI corps in 2014 would use the patch, because the DCI judges would give more credit for that. (Bear in mind that in DCI, the patch would be considered new and innovative compared to the percussion treatment, which has already been done over 20 years ago.)

Regarding which would be more impressive to the viewer, my first thought was that in contrast to the judges, the fans would find the percussion effect to be more impressive. But then, you have to consider context. In an environment where electronic samples are freely used, none of these effects are as impressive as they were on the DCI field pre-2009. As a spectator, your internal filters are already activated by everything from the bomb soundtrack of Vanguard Cadets last year, to the European siren sounds of Blue Stars 2011, or "Relampago! (thunderclap)". By the time you get to a worthwhile use of instrumentation, like the 2013 Madison drum features, while you recognize and appreciate the artillery effects they seek to convey, you simply cannot be as impressed with them amid the barrage of other effects on the electronic soundscape.

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Good analysis, N.E.

It's important to understand, most of these guys are more than satisfied to do WHATEVER it takes to keep the paycheck coming. Kinda like many of members of our U.S. Congress. To remain in place, they MUST appear to be at the forefront of everything, on the cutting-edge, visionary, and indispensible. Their employers simply NEED them! But, more importantly, they must continually change. To always pursue change means to keep actual accountability at bay. Every idea is thus new and requires more time. Notice how people at the upper levels of the corporate world rarely stick around in one position very long? Hmmmm.

Good analysis, N.E.

It's important to understand, most of these guys are more than satisfied to do WHATEVER it takes to keep the paycheck coming.

...

Okay, I've got to jump in on that because I find it offensive...NOT that the analysis wasn't good...it was great and I applaud him for his insights, which (don't tell anyone) I agree with. However, DCI judges, though paid, do NOT judge for the money. If they did, they've be the worst businesspeople in North America. Factor in the travel time it takes them to get to shows, they don't make squat for their efforts. Many of them are available because they are educators on summer break, but they would make more money (with less drag on their time) helping out in landscaping, or as tour guides, or any other number of summer jobs, than they make judging drum corps. Being a drum corps judge takes up WAY more time than just being at the show, requiring travel before and after.

The judges don't judge for the money they make that doesn't cover all the time they put into doing what they do; the judges judge because they enjoy contributing to the drum corps activity and it's the best way they know how.

Now if you excuse me, my chauffeur tells me it's time to hop in the Bentley and go to my daily massage appointment at the spa I bought with my drum corps earnings.

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You are correct, Michael. I should have been more precise. To me, the term 'paycheck' represents more than just actual cash. A better word would have been 'benefit.' That would also include concerns like power and influence, network associations, etc. I believe similar benefits accrue to corps directors who make decisions in a like environment.

Edited by Fred Windish
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Maybe I just speak for myself, but I love drum & bugle corps for the unique sound and identity it has. I find it much more interesting and entertaining when left to the basic device of drums and bugles. I don't care if they are playing Tchaikovsky, Glenn Miller, or Ke$ha, I like the sound and the vibe of actual drum & bugle corps. I don't feel like something is "missing" if corps do a tune that traditionally has a trombone feature and it is instead played by baritones. Doing more with less... being inventive and creative (like the old SCV Saigon helicopter effect) is what I find entertaining and inspiring about drum & bugle corps. It truly is a bizarro world that a judge would likely give more "creative merit" to simply hitting a sound effect patch on a synthesizer than recreating sounds live acoustically. These guys mentioned in the round table seem hell bent on destroying something really great and unique (and it seems the vast majority really love) in the world of music to create something that already exists (marching band/orchestra/rock concert/whatever)... I just don't get it.

In the spirit of "anything goes- blank cavas for artistic expression" I'd love to see Daft Punk hit a few DCI shows this summer. They don't use woodwinds or strings (they'd have to give Nile Rogers the night off on guitar duty), and they'd need to hire a few more robot guys to play everything "live", but I guess they could technically be a "drum corps", right? I am sure their brass score would be pretty dismal, but they would kill in general effect. Go drum corps!!

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