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Agogobell28

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Not that I want to see it again -- but just the idea that certain things are no longer in the table because they don't meet the "checklist" requirements is somewhat lacking in creative energy.

Are you implying, Arranger, that one person's "creative energy" is another person's "balls"? If so...then I'm with you.

Edited by HornTeacher
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Not that I want to see it again -- but just the idea that certain things are no longer in the table because they don't meet the "checklist" requirements is somewhat lacking in creative energy.

One of the reasons when there was a topic about changing the point system. Give some more points to music was a suggestion. But, with so many artsy instructors, judges, corps mgmt., etc. the odds of it happening are very slim.

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Music teachers don't make great music. They make great musicians.

I believe this is at the heart of this issue. While the arrangers are certainly capable of producing works of professional depth and subtlety, this activity is led by teachers, not arrangers. And by led, I mean the directors, instructors and judges are all teachers, not music critics, composers, designers or arrangers.

Last year George Hopkins said their goals were, in order: 1. Challenge the members, 2. Entertain the audience, and 3. Impress the judges [my wording]. I believe these values are fairly consistent across DCI.

Is this inconsistent with the result? Are they arranging more for the judges than for the audience or students? It does seem that way, but I think these teachers may feel that it's so difficult to express a subtle mood, and to transition from one mood to another, that they have rewarded more moods and transitions over more time expanding on each mood. I'm not saying that's right - I'm saying they do it because they believe it's better education.

Perhaps they feel that the kids have the rest of the school year to play it straight. I don't know the reasoning, but I think the intent is sound and since they are by and large teachers the rest of the year, they may have some experience that tells them this is the way to go.

I do think the pendulum is swinging back slightly. The important thing about Bluecoats show isn't the pitch bend, it's Hymn of Axciom. They played that piece entirely. All 3+whatever minutes pretty much straight. BD did something interesting; they played the Nino Rota theme from La Strada several times over the course of the show so that while it was broken up, at least the corps had a chance to explore that one theme more fully. And in both cases the audience had one key melodic idea to anchor the show on the way home. Almost like the old days. They got great audience response. And they came in first and second.

So maybe we will see a trend toward developing one idea more fully at some point, and cramming as many statements into the rest of the show as possible as they do now. I would like to see this trend continue, more ABABCABC rather than ABC-next piece, but I am also impressed by these corps ability to turn on a dime emotionally.

Edited by Pete Freedman
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There are many reasons for the current trends in brass arranging.

Chiefly: impatience by visual, percussion and color guard judges and writers, who think of their own compartmentalized piece of the puzzle rather than allowing the music to live and breathe.

We've been hijacked by WGI pacing, and designed judging sheets that reward frantic moods and over-writing.

It's all VERY coordinated and well-thought-out on paper. In performance? It becomes mangled and generally meaningless musically.

I won't speak for all arrangers. Some just aren't very good. Some are. Some do not assert themselves, while others do. Some are more concerned about keeping their gig, rather than making music.

And sometimes, speaking up in defense of music isn't a popular thing for a younger generation of writers and teachers who didn't grow up listening patiently and thoughtfully.

And sometimes they don't care. It's a paycheck and someone else is responsible for the show -- so they cash the check, and move on because their voice was drowned out a long time ago.

Lots of reasons.

I'm sure there are more. These are my particular views on the subject.

Myself? I like music, but rarely like drum corps anymore. Love the performance levels. Truly over the "every 30 seconds needs an impact" school of thought, and the "cheats" used to achieve "clarity" and the "checklist" mentality of the design process. Double tonguing? Check. 192 bpm? Check. High sticking and a leg kick? Check. Gratuitous 16th note run living outside the musical idea? Check.

Blah.

Chuck

Wow,

Someone who arranges in DCI pretty much confirms what I've been saying about WGI's influence on DCI here for a long while, but that so many have dismissed as being silly.

So there you have it from someone more respected than me.... I totally agree with what Chucks saying here and I have always respected Chuck's opinion. I wish there was a way for a happy medium, where music can drive high scores along side the chop-n-bop shows. I mean, the idea is for these corps to be unique, right?

Also, it seems there IS a rubric for scores. Sounding like my grad school experience....

Interesting to hear for sure!

Edited by jjeffeory
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Wow,

Someone who arranges in DCI who pretty confirms what I've been saying about WGI's influence on DCI here for a long while, but that so many have dismissed.

So there you have it from someone more respected than me.... I totally agree with what Chucks saying here. I wish there was a way for a happy medium, where music can drive high scores along side the chop-n-bop.

Also, it seems there IS a rubric for scores. Sounding like my grad school experience....

Interesting to hear for sure!

Agreed......hearing it from someone like Chuck says something.

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Agreed......hearing it from someone like Chuck says something.

From ArrangerX:

We've been hijacked by WGI pacing, and designed judging sheets that reward frantic moods and over-writing.
It's all VERY coordinated and well-thought-out on paper. In performance? It becomes mangled and generally meaningless musically.

From the sheets:

General Effect 2014::

Repertoire Effect:

- Audience Engagement

- Audio and Visual Coordination

- Programmatic Interpretation

- Variety of Effects

- Creativity, Originality, and Artistry

Performance Effect:

- Engaged the Audience

- Delivered/Sustained the Effects

- Embodied/Sustained Character, Role, Identity, Style

- Communicated Detail, Nuance, And Artistic Qualities

On the Rep side I agree there is nothing that rewards the challenge of performing music in which subtlety evolves within a single work. However the Perf side includes the word Sustained in two out of four bullet points.

Granted, this does not show the other sheets (which I couldn't find), and we also don't know what was/is said at the various meetings where judges discuss this, but it does look like they are trying to reward more fully developed ideas.

So, how should this sheet be changed?

Edited by Pete Freedman

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As someone who has listened to many shows from the past 30 years through fan network, I agree with you in that the style of shows have turned into something like a highlight reel. However, i disagree that it takes away from the shows and their impacts. I like both styles equally and each have their own pros and cons.

"Highlight reel" and no one squawked yet..... I call it 'chop n bop" and some folks get irate... go figure...

If done right it works, wish I could think of a better example than Crossmens "Crusin'" a few years back (which had good use of amps with the radio static) but not have time to follow DCI for years now.

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There are many reasons for the current trends in brass arranging.

Chiefly: impatience by visual, percussion and color guard judges and writers, who think of their own compartmentalized piece of the puzzle rather than allowing the music to live and breathe.

We've been hijacked by WGI pacing, and designed judging sheets that reward frantic moods and over-writing.

Chuck

This mostly sums it up for me. Spot on!

Keep in mind, we still get some gems in drum corps from a standpoint of music. Also, to be fair, part of the problem is the sheer difficulty in syncing music, drill, visual ideas, staging, and thematic progression into ONE cohesive show. This isn't easy stuff.

If you listen to the Cadets 2010 show music in a stand-still performance you would love it. And even on the field I loved it. Great music. But when combined with drill, staging, visual concepts, thematic ideas, well...ultimately it was a good show but didn't quite hit the level they had wanted. On the flip side, if you listened to the Cavaliers 2006 show in a stand-still you would love how the corps performed, but you would have questions about the abrupt and contemporary-style of phrasing and motifs. Certainly not traditional. Yet, when it was married with visual and theme it was off-the-charts good. Star 1993 was somewhat like this, but the phrasing was impeccable, just not exactly what the average fan wants to hear.

BUT...there is a clear difference between my examples of the Cavaliers and Star (above), to what some other corps have tried. In the worst cases of music construction we've heard too many bops, chops, bleeps, whole-note builds while running, then the ultimate park and POWER CHORD! YUK.

The key to me has been a loss of melodic line and thematic development. There is a limit to each show, and perhaps corps should consider less material with better development. When music develops well it can absolutely bring a person to an emotional high. Think Phantom Regiment at their finest. Think SCV's "Les Miserables" show, or their "Appalachian Spring" show of 2009. Think Cadets "West Side Story" or "Angels & Demons," and think Madison's ability to milk the crowd when at their best. Music alone can do this. But the trick has always been to combine that music with drill, staging, visual concepts, and overall show theme that aids the musical passion.

The competitive rules (judging sheets) ultimately govern and control a lot of what is happening. As long as a corps can get away with poor music construction, poor development, poor phrasing -- just because it happens to sync well with visual -- then it is unlikely the arranging styles will change.

Edited by jwillis35
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I agree with jwillis above - the one show that comes to mind instantly for me that would never be made in this environment is Phantom Regiment of 1996. No way that opener survives the season without some major retooling. Such a slow burn to start a show, but with a huge emotional payoff.

I do agree with the example of Hymn of Acxiom from last season as a fine example. Hopefully more of these gems make it to the field this summer.

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Music teachers don't make great music. They make great musicians.

I believe this is at the heart of this issue. While the arrangers are certainly capable of producing works of professional depth and subtlety, this activity is led by teachers, not arrangers. And by led, I mean the directors, instructors and judges are all teachers, not music critics, composers, designers or arrangers.

Last year George Hopkins said their goals were, in order: 1. Challenge the members, 2. Entertain the audience, and 3. Impress the judges [my wording]. I believe these values are fairly consistent across DCI.

Is this inconsistent with the result? Are they arranging more for the judges than for the audience or students? It does seem that way, but I think these teachers may feel that it's so difficult to express a subtle mood, and to transition from one mood to another, that they have rewarded more moods and transitions over more time expanding on each mood. I'm not saying that's right - I'm saying they do it because they believe it's better education.

Perhaps they feel that the kids have the rest of the school year to play it straight. I don't know the reasoning, but I think the intent is sound and since they are by and large teachers the rest of the year, they may have some experience that tells them this is the way to go.

I do think the pendulum is swinging back slightly. The important thing about Bluecoats show isn't the pitch bend, it's Hymn of Axciom. They played that piece entirely. All 3+whatever minutes pretty much straight. BD did something interesting; they played the Nino Rota theme from La Strada several times over the course of the show so that while it was broken up, at least the corps had a chance to explore that one theme more fully. And in both cases the audience had one key melodic idea to anchor the show on the way home. Almost like the old days. They got great audience response. And they came in first and second.

So maybe we will see a trend toward developing one idea more fully at some point, and cramming as many statements into the rest of the show as possible as they do now. I would like to see this trend continue, more ABABCABC rather than ABC-next piece, but I am also impressed by these corps ability to turn on a dime emotionally.

I was merely citing the "pitch bend" as being a final, culminating figure or "high point" to which everything up to that point led -- not as the greatest thing in the entire program.

Edited by HornTeacher

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