Electronics 2015 - Good and Bad


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Corps are getting credit for electronics but not taking a hit when they blow them, this is wrong…

Every live show I have seen this year has had at electronic fails by the corps, it’s not acceptable. Punish them in the points. I feel ripped off as a fan watching it

So, should a show win if they have an electronics fail? What if Bluecoats found themselves in first place at semis then had a fail for finals?

Most electronics in drum corps are still crap and out of balance, they all seem very much the same and rather uninspired and hardly creative

I'm so sick of goo, synth faking a horn lead and hissing but still the worst are sampled trite platitudes of faux depth that would make Oprah blush….

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In total contrast to Cappybara, I am invariably opposed to sampled speech and song (including Mandarins 2013) because I want all performance to be created through the effort of the performers. We'd ne

This is the seventh year since electronics were introduced to drum corps and I feel like show designers and arrangers are starting to get a footing for how they want to use the tools electronic instru

Anyone else hear the Jurassic Park theme playing in the background of this thread?

I understand that a lot of people here feel like the kids running the electronics are just pressing a button, but you also should try to understand the demand on the members.Talk to the Bluecoats staff like I did to hear about the challenges of those backfield speakers. You'll realize how far ahead the multiple front ensemble members "pushing the buttons" have to play ahead for the sound delays to work and to match up with the ensemble timing. It's not pressing buttons at all with what they are hearing behind them. It's also interesting to hear how much the speakers in the back sound "off" to the horns, drums and guard that can hear the sounds coming out of them or even worse, if they are performing and trying to lock in time from behind them like the color guard at multiple points in the show.

I came away sincerely impressed with how well the performers are handling time and pulse responsibilities all over the field with a setup that has never been attempted before. It's an entirely additional level of environmental demand that I doubt they will get any credit for but are pulling it off at an extremely high level. As an "audio geek" I love what they are doing and I hope they continue to push the boundaries. They have over 1/2 mile of Cat6 cable on the field making this happen!

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How many of those corps/bands require their pit to do PT or marching blocks? As long as front ensemble remains stationary, and not participating in half of what makes a marching & music group unique (ie. - THE MARCHING half) ... then there will continue to be segregation, regardless of peoples' feelings regarding the musical importance of the front ensemble.

There are corps that include their front ensembles in PT blocks. I've also taught three bands that require their front ensemble to be in PT blocks. Watch Bluecoats pit to see all of their visual responsibilities. Yes, it's not marching, but they have "body" all throughout the entire show.

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I understand that a lot of people here feel like the kids running the electronics are just pressing a button, but you also should try to understand the demand on the members.Talk to the Bluecoats staff like I did to hear about the challenges of those backfield speakers. You'll realize how far ahead the multiple front ensemble members "pushing the buttons" have to play ahead for the sound delays to work and to match up with the ensemble timing. It's not pressing buttons at all with what they are hearing behind them. It's also interesting to hear how much the speakers in the back sound "off" to the horns, drums and guard that can hear the sounds coming out of them or even worse, if they are performing and trying to lock in time from behind them like the color guard at multiple points in the show.

I came away sincerely impressed with how well the performers are handling time and pulse responsibilities all over the field with a setup that has never been attempted before. It's an entirely additional level of environmental demand that I doubt they will get any credit for but are pulling it off at an extremely high level. As an "audio geek" I love what they are doing and I hope they continue to push the boundaries. They have over 1/2 mile of Cat6 cable on the field making this happen!

agreed, the listening skills required are incredible.

I do agree though that if electronics fail, scores are not affected as they should be

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agreed, the listening skills required are incredible.

I do agree though that if electronics fail, scores are not affected as they should be

I would totally agree with this jeff.

If a prop doesnt work or anything else for that matter on the field doesnt work it surely effects scores in many places, electronics should do the same

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Called me old school or whatever but to me the pit and anything from the pit (including electronics) should always be the 'seasoning' on the food....not the food itself.

I do like a pit feature such as the Cavies' 2014 Marimba solo or Nick Starr's celeste solo in Crown's "The Grass is Always Greener". And Teal Sound's guitars, electric woodwind and violin ensemble was always entertaining to me.

Those guys and gals need a little love, too.

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I agree as well that scores should be affected if the mix is too loud or if there are sounds that are incorrect and from my experience, if the judges catch the error, they are affected. I've never been a part of a group outdoor or indoor where this wasn't factored in. The judge has to realize it though and sometimes they don't. It's just having a major ensemble tear and the judge does not catch it at all. It happens from time to time.

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my big issue is the new trend of samples playing during section features in drum breaks, covering up the section features!

The first piece of the Cavaliers' encore at Murfreesboro was to play a dance track over the PAs and have the battery play along with it. You could hear that the battery was tapping along, but certainly couldn't make out any detail of what they were playing. Mainly it felt like the Cavs saying "hey, check out this sick tune!" as part of their encore, which was really disappointing.

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I definitely agree that many synth parts are challenging. My own example of the button-press being next to no achievement related to triggering sampled voice, for which the timing is rarely as critical as musical tones. And certainly the Bluecoats' use of electronics is extremely effective, and likely require special techniques on the part of the synth player that go well beyond the norm.

That said, I'm skeptical that synth players face timing issues any more challenging than what any other corps members confront (especially the guard who are literally waving a flag to emphasize their timing or lack thereof), except probably in the Bluecoats' show. And the technique they are asked to display--in my observation of many, not all corps--generally pales in comparison to other members of the pit. #notallcorps of course. This is no diss on the synth players, who are clearly very talented. Just that the designers are not featuring their skills in the same way they do more traditional instruments.

Teal Sound's guitar player is another good example of an electronic instrument being used well. That guy was very talented and I felt the guitar was extremely well utilized for a large portion of the show in their last full year IIRC.

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As long as we have indoor performance venues, electronics will be necessary. Indoors, it's impossible to have enough tubas to create the amount of sound needed when playing backfield. Outdoors this is not an issue as much because the tuba sound would bounce off the concrete bleachers on the visitors side.

I feel like this year, the groups are doing a much better job blending their electronics sound in with the brass and percussion. Those that aren't either are doing it on purpose because their show has an electronics theme to it, or the sound person didn't get the volumes right for the venue they were in.

One thing I has found to be true, don't ever sit low on the 35 yard line...

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