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pudding

Why Jagged Line is actually brilliant

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2 minutes ago, Jurassic Lancer said:

You may want to contact Cadets for an exorcism. 

Ironic, he would pitch a fit at their show this year. 

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2 minutes ago, pudding said:

Ironic, he would pitch a fit at their show this year. 

I am all about irony. Always have been.

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7 hours ago, ftwdrummer said:

I think he meant Channel3, the guy who got into massive fights last year because Madison's show didn't go through backer's auditions or somesuch bs.

Oh ok.  I avoid fights on here.  

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On 8/4/2017 at 2:42 AM, pudding said:

Bluecoats' 2017 production, Jagged Line, has met with quite a bit of controversy. "It the same thing as last year!" "There's no theme!" "Dancing is dumb, why would anyone do it?" Well, these are all completely valid concerns, so I decided to dive into the Jagged Line and try and figure out what the show is actually about. What I found shocked me, and may shock you.

In an unprecedented move, the 2017 Bluecoats design team actually had the cajones to do a show of commentary on drum corps itself, both acknolwedging its past, and looking toward its future.

Hear me out.

The very first thing we hear when the show begin is a sample of the "Prelude" from Thank You Scientist's album Maps of Non-Existent Places; the lyrics are "Leaving without a trace / Don't know when I'll be back again". That is, we are starting from a place of familiarity (the paradigm of drum corps until now) and moving into uncharted territory (innovation in design). As the full brass choir comes in, we are given a final sample of "Leaving...", signaling our departure from where we "are" and the start of our journey into "where we will go".

As the percussion enters, the brass ensemble struts out from under the prop and performs a choreographed dance program. Some say that this is simply recycled from last year's program; in actuality, it is the beginnings of an examination into the "past", beginning with just one season prior. In fact, this is our first hint into the theme of the Jagged Line in general: the Jagged Line represents the schism of past and future. If you don't see it, simply look at a timeline that has been abbreviated:

0P4dtvE.png

Things that happen on the left of the prop represent the "old", and things that happen on the right represent the "new". This is a recurring theme that will show up later. But what does it mean when the corps is on the prop itself? Back to the show: The very first impact of the show takes place with the entire corps on the prop. Is this just a visual decision in order to emphasize the Jagged Line visual theme? Or is it more? When you think back to the left/right of the prop design from earlier, the answer becomes clear: when the corps is on the prop, it represents the marriage of old and new; the intersection of tradition and innovation in the present. Thus, the initial impact is a statement that while this show is going to examine both past and future, it is going to do so from the perspective of unifying them. 

Immediately after the opening chords, the high brass marches down the ramp and veers straight off into the "past" side of the prop. What does their drill do? They make rectangles and do box rotations, classic drill characteristics of the 2000s decade. When the low brass on the right side of the prop joins the high brass in the standstill with body movement, the form is disinctly reminiscent of 2000 Cavaliers, and the footwork reminiscent of 2010-era Crown; when they break into individual movements, it's a taste of "breaking down" the form and movements from unity into elements; a "deconstruction", if you will.

What's interesting about the next phrase of drill is that while the horns start off facing backfield, they quickly turn to face right; facing the "future". The battery drill seems to lead them to want to go to the "past", but they reverse their direction and follow the horns. Meanwhile, the guard is gathering in the "past", and using traditional guard equipment such as flags and rifles, both things that are becoming more and more scarce in modern guard design. 

After the impact, the quad feature; a standard of drum corps designs both old and new. This one combined both style, utilizing both modern rhythmic and melodic vocabulary (in the feature proper) and traditional, less active writing (in the ostinato). Note also that this feature is in 7/4, and then moves to 4/4; even while the written material moves from traditional to modern, the time signature moves from modern to traditional, ending on the same spock roll that was so lauded in 2015.

The tubas being on the prop is the glue that ties the next section together; a truly brilliant marriage of old and new. The low brass on the right side of the prop are playing very modern, pointed rhythms, almost percussive; when the high brass enters on the left side, they are in the very high register, reminiscent of 1980s Madison Scouts. The tubas on the prop privde the grounding that marry the past screaming and the future minimalism together. This is emphasized even more when the brass snakes through the prop, literally jumping between eras as they bring their statement to a final close.

Now, the ballad. Much talked-about, very controversial. First, observe that the brass and guard spend the entire movement in the "past" side of the prop. This does not necessarily mean that the ballad is meant to be a representation of the past; rather, it is an examination of the past and what made the past great. The soloist stands on the prop, again signaling that the past will be viewed through the lens of the present.

There is a very clear demarcation during the ballad; the curvilinear where the brass puts their horns down. To me, this is intensely reminiscent of the visual theme of the Bluecoats 2015 show, Kinetic Noise, except inverted; where before, the frantic action taking place during the baritone solo was above the curve, where here it is below. Note that as players "escape" from the hectic choreography inside the curve, their movements "calm down"; they become pensive as they reflect on the past.

As the brass choir comes to a cadence, we expect a huge hit, but no. The brass begins marching away from us, as if to say that our expectations are outdated, and we cannot cling to the past. To emphasize this, they literally turn around, gazing one last time into the venerated altar of history as they play their beautiful chorale, which, again in defiance of our expectations, gets played back to us loud and clear, a foreshadowing of the integration of old (brass) and new (electronics). On the final chord, they turn back to the front, allowing us for one last time to luxuriate in the lushness of the traditional chorale ending of ballads old. However, even as this is happening, the battery, under the prop instead of over it, beckons us toward the present (the prop), to grow till tall, heard but not seen as if to represent the irresistable pull of idiomatic evolution.

I haven't spoken much about the front ensemble yet, because there hasn't been too much to say about them so far. However, note that for the percussion break, the marimbas (the featured instrument in the original One Study, One Summary) are pushed forward; this may seem odd in the context of their setup, but realize that where the marimbas have pushed to is actually where the marimbas would normally be in a traditional front ensemble setup (at least in terms of front-to-back). This is a small way to ease the transition into the very, very modern percussion break; our attention is drawn to the snares on the prop, who start as a solo but build into a full section, representing more and more people wrenching away from the past and back to the present. During the snare feature, notice the shapes that the hornline make with their drill; they are arrows, first pointing right, to the future, then for a moment heading back left, toward the past, before resolutely heading into the prop (the present), simultaneously "pushing" the guard into the future. Note that the guard equipment has changed from the traditional flag and rifle into a newer implement: a cane. As the percussion breaks down their groove, the hornline and guardline are integrated into a very, very modern dance choreography, in some ways reminiscent of the choreography from earlier but also different. At the climax of the percussion break, the hornline has formed a literal line through the prop; this is the timeline that got slashed in the image above. Note that most of the timeline is on the right side of the prop; we are nearly finished with the past, but the future has much to explore.

The Zappa piece, Zomby Woof, takes place exclusively on the right side of the prop, much like the ballad took place exclusively on the left. Canny observers will note the extensive similarities in visual design approach to the very recent developments of the Blue Devils, as well as the Bluecoats themselves in 2016. Musically, no more fitting word can be applied to Zappa in general than "weird"; when gazing into the immediate future of drum corps, that word applies aptly, and the strange fivelets that the trumpets (and piccolo trumpet solo) play reflect that perfectly. 

The Zappa is fun, it's energetic, and it's high energy, but it can be easy to be lost in all of that hype and energy, and lose sight of the history that got us to where we are. The quads show up just in time to remind us; two on the left of the prop, two on the right, and one up on top, they march down the field to remind us that we can't just have fun in the sun with our new design toys. Indeed, as the quads finish, the snares pick up, this time entirely on the left side of the prop, as if to emphasize that we cannot forget the past; the front ensemble has returned to the groove from earlier in the show, demonstrating even here a small look into ten minutes ago. 

As the final percussion break finishes, and the trumpet duet takes over, the hornline gives perhaps the best homage to old-school drum corps possible: symmetrical drill, and follow-the-leader. Even as we are hearing an incredibly modern usage of mic'd guitar patch over screaming trumpets, we see a throwback to the earliest visual designs of drum corps. However, right at the end, when the block consolidates, it is not symmetrical, but repeats the arrow from the drum break, pointing to the right. The message is clear: Even as we respect the past, we MUST stride toward the future. As the form unwinds and the low brass sprints down the ramp, we see this demonstrated as the symmetrical drill returns and the brass, now completely in front of all of the mic picks and therefore playing completely acoustically, marches into a double company front, while the guard behind them chaotically throws their flags to the winds, mounts the prop, and flings their hats, creating an explosion as old and new fuse to create the perfect marriage of style. 

 

----------

 

  Reveal hidden contents

If you've made it this far, congratulations. This post was mostly made to be tongue-in-cheek, and hopefully most of you will have gotten that. I figured that since everyone wanted to stretch to say that BD, SCV, and Crown's shows were about DCI Past and Future, I figured that the Bluecoats deserved the same (BD I can understand, SCV and Crown much, much less so). There are several legitimate observations in here, some of which I only discovered after taking on this venture of deeply looking into something that isn't really all that deep, but mostly this is just fluff. Perhaps, if you want, you can incorporate some of what I've said into your own interpretation of the show, but I suspect that most here will chuckle (or fume) and move on. 

 

I think it's brilliant because it's terrific music played well with fun drill. I don't really need to catch the theme to enjoy the show.  

 

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A good corps design is like good architecture or feng shui. A well designed space where the elements are in harmony is enjoyable to hang out in regardless of the theories of it's creators. A student of architecture might enjoy pointing out details like pattern language, form language, utilitarianism, color theory, geometric ratios etc... and admire the thought that went into creating the space, but no intellectual analysis will make an awkward space more attractive to experience. It's apparent that the designers of Jagged Line put a lot of thought into every detail and design choice in order for the elements of the show to have a cohesive and engaging aesthetic motivation from beginning to end, but as with good architecture, no knowledge of their detailed design concepts are needed to enjoy the end result.   

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On 8/4/2017 at 2:42 AM, pudding said:

This post was mostly made to be tongue-in-cheek, and hopefully most of you will have gotten that...  ... but I suspect that most here will chuckle (or fume) and move on. 

Hahahaha.  You said, "most of you". Kudos to @pudding for your creativity and for the inspiration this create this thread. Even if your final paragraph hadn't been hidden, I suspect the results would have been similar.

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One question utterly confounds me: if you put a bowler over your butt in a chreographed dance move, does it become an a$$hat?

<rimshot>

Thank you, thank you; you're too kind...I'm here all week; be sure to try the fish, and don't forget to tip your waitresses.... 

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5 hours ago, kckempf said:

I think it's brilliant because it's terrific music played well with fun drill. I don't really need to catch the theme to enjoy the show.  

 

It's the best 4-5th place show since Cadets 2015! Another corps that mid season felt the wrath of the bipolar judging community.

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On ‎8‎/‎4‎/‎2017 at 2:42 AM, pudding said:

Bluecoats' 2017 production, Jagged Line, has met with quite a bit of controversy. "It the same thing as last year!" "There's no theme!" "Dancing is dumb, why would anyone do it?" Well, these are all completely valid concerns, so I decided to dive into the Jagged Line and try and figure out what the show is actually about. What I found shocked me, and may shock you.

In an unprecedented move, the 2017 Bluecoats design team actually had the cajones to do a show of commentary on drum corps itself, both acknolwedging its past, and looking toward its future.

Hear me out.

The very first thing we hear when the show begin is a sample of the "Prelude" from Thank You Scientist's album Maps of Non-Existent Places; the lyrics are "Leaving without a trace / Don't know when I'll be back again". That is, we are starting from a place of familiarity (the paradigm of drum corps until now) and moving into uncharted territory (innovation in design). As the full brass choir comes in, we are given a final sample of "Leaving...", signaling our departure from where we "are" and the start of our journey into "where we will go".

As the percussion enters, the brass ensemble struts out from under the prop and performs a choreographed dance program. Some say that this is simply recycled from last year's program; in actuality, it is the beginnings of an examination into the "past", beginning with just one season prior. In fact, this is our first hint into the theme of the Jagged Line in general: the Jagged Line represents the schism of past and future. If you don't see it, simply look at a timeline that has been abbreviated:

0P4dtvE.png

Things that happen on the left of the prop represent the "old", and things that happen on the right represent the "new". This is a recurring theme that will show up later. But what does it mean when the corps is on the prop itself? Back to the show: The very first impact of the show takes place with the entire corps on the prop. Is this just a visual decision in order to emphasize the Jagged Line visual theme? Or is it more? When you think back to the left/right of the prop design from earlier, the answer becomes clear: when the corps is on the prop, it represents the marriage of old and new; the intersection of tradition and innovation in the present. Thus, the initial impact is a statement that while this show is going to examine both past and future, it is going to do so from the perspective of unifying them. 

Immediately after the opening chords, the high brass marches down the ramp and veers straight off into the "past" side of the prop. What does their drill do? They make rectangles and do box rotations, classic drill characteristics of the 2000s decade. When the low brass on the right side of the prop joins the high brass in the standstill with body movement, the form is disinctly reminiscent of 2000 Cavaliers, and the footwork reminiscent of 2010-era Crown; when they break into individual movements, it's a taste of "breaking down" the form and movements from unity into elements; a "deconstruction", if you will.

What's interesting about the next phrase of drill is that while the horns start off facing backfield, they quickly turn to face right; facing the "future". The battery drill seems to lead them to want to go to the "past", but they reverse their direction and follow the horns. Meanwhile, the guard is gathering in the "past", and using traditional guard equipment such as flags and rifles, both things that are becoming more and more scarce in modern guard design. 

After the impact, the quad feature; a standard of drum corps designs both old and new. This one combined both style, utilizing both modern rhythmic and melodic vocabulary (in the feature proper) and traditional, less active writing (in the ostinato). Note also that this feature is in 7/4, and then moves to 4/4; even while the written material moves from traditional to modern, the time signature moves from modern to traditional, ending on the same spock roll that was so lauded in 2015.

The tubas being on the prop is the glue that ties the next section together; a truly brilliant marriage of old and new. The low brass on the right side of the prop are playing very modern, pointed rhythms, almost percussive; when the high brass enters on the left side, they are in the very high register, reminiscent of 1980s Madison Scouts. The tubas on the prop privde the grounding that marry the past screaming and the future minimalism together. This is emphasized even more when the brass snakes through the prop, literally jumping between eras as they bring their statement to a final close.

Now, the ballad. Much talked-about, very controversial. First, observe that the brass and guard spend the entire movement in the "past" side of the prop. This does not necessarily mean that the ballad is meant to be a representation of the past; rather, it is an examination of the past and what made the past great. The soloist stands on the prop, again signaling that the past will be viewed through the lens of the present.

There is a very clear demarcation during the ballad; the curvilinear where the brass puts their horns down. To me, this is intensely reminiscent of the visual theme of the Bluecoats 2015 show, Kinetic Noise, except inverted; where before, the frantic action taking place during the baritone solo was above the curve, where here it is below. Note that as players "escape" from the hectic choreography inside the curve, their movements "calm down"; they become pensive as they reflect on the past.

As the brass choir comes to a cadence, we expect a huge hit, but no. The brass begins marching away from us, as if to say that our expectations are outdated, and we cannot cling to the past. To emphasize this, they literally turn around, gazing one last time into the venerated altar of history as they play their beautiful chorale, which, again in defiance of our expectations, gets played back to us loud and clear, a foreshadowing of the integration of old (brass) and new (electronics). On the final chord, they turn back to the front, allowing us for one last time to luxuriate in the lushness of the traditional chorale ending of ballads old. However, even as this is happening, the battery, under the prop instead of over it, beckons us toward the present (the prop), to grow till tall, heard but not seen as if to represent the irresistable pull of idiomatic evolution.

I haven't spoken much about the front ensemble yet, because there hasn't been too much to say about them so far. However, note that for the percussion break, the marimbas (the featured instrument in the original One Study, One Summary) are pushed forward; this may seem odd in the context of their setup, but realize that where the marimbas have pushed to is actually where the marimbas would normally be in a traditional front ensemble setup (at least in terms of front-to-back). This is a small way to ease the transition into the very, very modern percussion break; our attention is drawn to the snares on the prop, who start as a solo but build into a full section, representing more and more people wrenching away from the past and back to the present. During the snare feature, notice the shapes that the hornline make with their drill; they are arrows, first pointing right, to the future, then for a moment heading back left, toward the past, before resolutely heading into the prop (the present), simultaneously "pushing" the guard into the future. Note that the guard equipment has changed from the traditional flag and rifle into a newer implement: a cane. As the percussion breaks down their groove, the hornline and guardline are integrated into a very, very modern dance choreography, in some ways reminiscent of the choreography from earlier but also different. At the climax of the percussion break, the hornline has formed a literal line through the prop; this is the timeline that got slashed in the image above. Note that most of the timeline is on the right side of the prop; we are nearly finished with the past, but the future has much to explore.

The Zappa piece, Zomby Woof, takes place exclusively on the right side of the prop, much like the ballad took place exclusively on the left. Canny observers will note the extensive similarities in visual design approach to the very recent developments of the Blue Devils, as well as the Bluecoats themselves in 2016. Musically, no more fitting word can be applied to Zappa in general than "weird"; when gazing into the immediate future of drum corps, that word applies aptly, and the strange fivelets that the trumpets (and piccolo trumpet solo) play reflect that perfectly. 

The Zappa is fun, it's energetic, and it's high energy, but it can be easy to be lost in all of that hype and energy, and lose sight of the history that got us to where we are. The quads show up just in time to remind us; two on the left of the prop, two on the right, and one up on top, they march down the field to remind us that we can't just have fun in the sun with our new design toys. Indeed, as the quads finish, the snares pick up, this time entirely on the left side of the prop, as if to emphasize that we cannot forget the past; the front ensemble has returned to the groove from earlier in the show, demonstrating even here a small look into ten minutes ago. 

As the final percussion break finishes, and the trumpet duet takes over, the hornline gives perhaps the best homage to old-school drum corps possible: symmetrical drill, and follow-the-leader. Even as we are hearing an incredibly modern usage of mic'd guitar patch over screaming trumpets, we see a throwback to the earliest visual designs of drum corps. However, right at the end, when the block consolidates, it is not symmetrical, but repeats the arrow from the drum break, pointing to the right. The message is clear: Even as we respect the past, we MUST stride toward the future. As the form unwinds and the low brass sprints down the ramp, we see this demonstrated as the symmetrical drill returns and the brass, now completely in front of all of the mic picks and therefore playing completely acoustically, marches into a double company front, while the guard behind them chaotically throws their flags to the winds, mounts the prop, and flings their hats, creating an explosion as old and new fuse to create the perfect marriage of style. 

 

----------

 

  Reveal hidden contents

If you've made it this far, congratulations. This post was mostly made to be tongue-in-cheek, and hopefully most of you will have gotten that. I figured that since everyone wanted to stretch to say that BD, SCV, and Crown's shows were about DCI Past and Future, I figured that the Bluecoats deserved the same (BD I can understand, SCV and Crown much, much less so). There are several legitimate observations in here, some of which I only discovered after taking on this venture of deeply looking into something that isn't really all that deep, but mostly this is just fluff. Perhaps, if you want, you can incorporate some of what I've said into your own interpretation of the show, but I suspect that most here will chuckle (or fume) and move on. 

 

[giggle] he said schism. [giggle]

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Come on dose not have nothing to do with anything.

 

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