shofmon88

So what are we going to do about it?

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It is readily becoming apparent this season that the new trend of amplifying entire hornlines (or large ensembles) is not sitting well with the fanbase. I have seen many calls for either the judges to limit rewarding or even penalize amplification of this magnitude, I've seen calls for DCI to change rules to better define what can and can't be done.

All this clamoring will not do anything if confined to DCP. 

Action is what brings change. I ask the community, the fans, parents, and alumni, for help in drafting an open letter to DCI. We obviously have concerns, let us voice them directly.

Being able to sign on to the letter will obviously be important, as there is strength in numbers. It should be disseminated as far as possible as well: to Reddit, at shows, etc. I do not know a platform that will facilitate this, so help here is appreciated. 

Below, I've typed out an example of what this could look like. Please help me flesh it out a bit. I will consider all criticism, as long as it is constructive. And please, keep the subject to amplification and electronics usage, this is not the proper time for an argument about rights, streaming, the fan network, etc. 

 

Quote

For 45 years, Drum Corps International has wowed millions of fans with pageantry, precision, and musical excellence. The spectacle of brass and percussion playing powerful music whilst simultaneously performing a demanding visual program has drawn people to this activity for decades. It is a unique activity; nowhere else can you feel the impact of the wall of sound, a sound so powerful that it has literally caused buildings to crumble. Yet this very thing that sets DCI apart as unique is under threat.

We, the fans, alumni, family, and friends of the drum corps activity, voice our concern over the direction show design has taken. Specifically, we are concerned about the prevalence and extent of amplification. This season, 2017, has seen several corps, namely Phantom Regiment, Santa Clara Vanguard, and the Bluecoats, use amplification to boost the volume of large numbers of the brass section, up to and including the entire corps for the duration of the show. We feel that this cheapens the effect, as a loud hornline is no longer achieved by talent alone. We feel that this is dishonest, a form of audio doping, that can be used to mask errors, or enhance the performance of a select few and mislead the audience through volume manipulation that their skill is reflected throughout the entire corps. Often, the amplified horns tear apart the musical tapestry woven by the rest of the corps, and the experience can be so jarring as to prevent enjoyment of the show.

We respectfully request that DCI revise its rules and judging criteria to prevent the use of amplification in such a mannor. We realize that amplification is now a reality within the activity, and has been since 2004, but we insist that limits be placed on its utilization. The current usage has become a detriment to fan enjoyment, and a threat to the identity of DCI itself. We, the fans, alumni, family, and friends of the drum corps activity, thank you for your consideration of this matter.

 

 

Edited by shofmon88
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3 minutes ago, mcjordansc said:

Fans in the stands seem to like what they are seeing and hearing. A small minority are complaining. 

Do YOU like the usage of amplification this season? Do you like listening to Phantom Regiment's entire hornline through amps, for the entire show?

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I don't understand why This is an issue now... corps have been experimenting with this for years. I mean, did nobody notice that the bluecoats had more speakers on the field than contras in the hornline in 2016? That show was fantastic and almost everybody that saw it ate it up. This activity is designed to evolve. To become new and different, and to reach new generations. If we rehashed the same techniques we used when we were limited by the technology of the time how are we improving the activity? It's a hip hop world out there folks. Keep up, enjoy the incredibly hard work the members are putting in, or get out of the way. These shows are rather enjoyable if you let them be instead of choosing to be upset about things that are new and different. 

Edited by CCond
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I don't know whether a petition is worthwhile, but as to the logic of amplification applied to the entire hornline:

If you don't have a problem with it, then you don't have a problem with diminishing the size of the hornline to maybe an 8- to 12-piece ensemble, enough for one player on each part in each of the four horn sections, and then using amplification to blow down the stands. After all, if volume, and volume alone, is the critereon for GE and crowd enjoyment, then the method of achieving it is irrelevant.

There is a lot of logic behind this idea. A corps would save a ton of money hauling around a couple dozen performers instead of 150. Think of all the bus costs, food costs, housing costs, etc., that would be saved by putting XYZ Drum and Bugle Corps into a single bus and a panel van carrying the amps. Think of how suddenly viable hundreds of new drum and bugle corps would become, owing to the dramatically reduced costs of putting 10 horn players, 4 drummers and a dozen guard members on the field. Let a thousand drum corps bloom!

So, if fan enjoyment is all about volume and nothing but volume, then bring on the amps and let's help drum corps survive into the future by dramatically reducing the overhead costs.

 

 

 

But maybe . . . . maybe there are other values that are more important than volume and pleasing fans in the bleachers. Values like teaching kids the value of teamwork, sacrifice, discipline, excellence. Values like earning what you receive. Values like exposing as many kids as possible to this kind of activity. And maybe there are strong practical reasons to uphold these values: The ability to obtain community/granting support for youth development, for one. You're not going to make much of a case for being a force for youth development when you're serving 24 kids in your city.

And if it really is about the youth -- if it is they who are the true customer, and it is they you intend to serve, then you would want to run away from whole-corps amplification as fast as you can.

Edited by 2muchcoffeeman
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4 minutes ago, 2muchcoffeeman said:

I don't know whether a petition is worthwhile, but as to the logic of amplification applied to the entire hornline:

If you don't have a problem with it, then you don't have a problem with diminishing the size of the hornline to maybe an 8- to 12-piece ensemble, enough for one player on each part in each of the four horn sections, and then using amplification to blow down the stands. After all, if volume, and volume alone, is the critereon for GE and crowd enjoyment, then the method of achieving it is irrelevant.

There is a lot of logic behind this idea. A corps would save a ton of money hauling around a couple dozen performers instead of 150. Think of all the bus costs, food costs, housing costs, etc., that would be saved by putting XYZ Drum and Bugle Corps into a single bus and a panel van carrying the amps. Think of how suddenly viable hundreds of new drum and bugle corps would become, owing to the dramatically reduced costs of putting 10 horn players, 4 drummers and a dozen guard members on the field. Let a thousand drum corps bloom!

So, if fan enjoyment is all about volume and nothing but volume, then bring on the amps and let's help drum corps survive into the future by dramatically reducing the overhead costs.

 

 

 

But maybe . . . . maybe there are other values that are more important than volume and pleasing fans in the bleachers. Values like teaching kids the value of teamwork, sacrifice, discipline, excellence. Values like earning what you receive. Values like exposing as many kids as possible to this kind of activity. And maybe there are strong practical reasons to uphold these values: The ability to obtain community/granting support for youth development, for one. You're not going to make much of a case for being a force for youth development when you're serving 24 kids in your city.

And if it really is about the youth -- if it is they who are the true customer, and it is they you intend to serve, then you would want to run away from whole-corps amplification as fast as you can.

This is the sort of thinking I'd like to incorporate. There's definitely some slippery slope here. 

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2 minutes ago, exitmusic said:

The fanbase != DCP

The fanbase doesn't care.

The fanbase is not the reason DCI exists. It exists to serve youth.

 

 . . . well, allow me to modify: DCI exists to help the individual corps serve youth.

Edited by 2muchcoffeeman
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20 minutes ago, shofmon88 said:

Do YOU like the usage of amplification this season? Do you like listening to Phantom Regiment's entire hornline through amps, for the entire show?

I like that corps experiment. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. If a corps wants to put a bluegrass ensemble in the pit and it sounds cool, I say go for it. If they decide to warm up the crowd with a comedian during pre-show, that is fine by me. If they want to play old school drum corps and blow the stands down, I would like that too. I am looking to be entertained and there is a lot of ways that can be accomplished. 

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this is a good start - but it's going to take corps directors going to the DCI rules committee and starting a process there ---

Hopefully the folks at Marching Roundtable will continue covering this issue --

If we do nothing, the activity will keep pushing in the audio engineering direction and drum corps will lose the uniqueness of live unamped brass performance -- 

Imagine if brass bands in England felt the need to start messing around with mic'ing their ensembles in order to get more sound or the sound they wanted?

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