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ThirdValvesAreForWimps

Brass Arrangements Sound the Same

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On 6/26/2018 at 6:53 PM, ThirdValvesAreForWimps said:

First, the good:  It’s nice to hear brass lines punching up the volume again and most corps are accomplishing this without field microphones.  Congratulations!  Design staffs listen to the veterans and fans after all!  We want a big sound and we want it to be produced by natural means.

Now, with that being said, each corps used to have its own particular sound.  Back in the day you could pick out a brass line blindfolded:  Phantom had a particular sound, Madison had a distinctive sound, etc.  

No longer.

Every brass arranger in DCI seems to use the same technique.  The trumpet parts are arranged similarly, etc., and its hard to distinguish between some of the brass lines today.  Sure, there are differences in quality and clarity but in general there is what I call sameness across DCI. To me things sound tuba- and mellophone-heavy across the board especially live.  Even some of the best brass lines in the country sound like a radio with the bass turned up and the treble turned down.

Other than from the Blue Devils I don’t hear the searing-hot trumpet sound cutting over the top of the brass section.  To my mind the best brass sections shade a little toward the treble end of the balance scale; not a lot, just a little.

Look, modern brass lines are amazing but it sounds like the parts were ripped from Arban’s technique book.  Would it hurt to play more than four consecutive measures of an actual piece?  Other than parts of “Bolero” by The Cavaliers, a couple bars of “God Bless the Child” by the Bluecoats, and a trumpet solo from Phantom Regiment in “New World Symphony,” I don’t hear much I recognize.  It’s mostly a ten minute mashup.

I get what you mean even if I haven't seen anything yet. 

Maybe this is why I greatly enjoy The Cavaliers original design shows. 2001-2003, 2006 and 2008 were AMAZING shows and awesome examples of true original work.... I think I am going to watch Samurai before going to work lol.

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<dino alert>

I'm saddened by today's arranging chop and bop style - the horn line arrangers give the MMs brief melodic phrase and then it's done --

Hornlines used to play long -- really long sustained melodic phrases -- 20, 30 measures at a time -- a song -- 

today it's like....  be bop bop de dop whaa whaaa [body movement body movement body movement body movement] be dop bop bop bowww [drum drums drums drums]

 really glad I got to march in more musical era than today. #historicalchauvinism

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Ok, here's my (somewhat sarcastic) take on arranging today. The music (brass) arrangers, write a complete musical book with well thought out phrases. They hand the score over to the percussion arrangers who eliminate 40 - 60% of the brass arrangement in favor of (IMO) not very musically cohesive percussion breaks.

I admit that percussion lines have come a long way since I marched, but (again IMO) at the expense of brass lines. Even when both brass and percussion are playing simultaneously, it's as if the percussion arrangers slid in charts from the winter percussion season and hoped for the best. I do not find todays percussion lines as musical as they were in the not so distant past.

 

 

Edited by Rocketman
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17 minutes ago, Rocketman said:

Ok, here's my (somewhat sarcastic) take on arranging today. The music (brass) arrangers, write a complete musical book with well thought out phrases. They hand the score over to the percussion arrangers who eliminate 40 - 60% of the brass arrangement in favor of (IMO) not very musically cohesive percussion breaks.

I admit that percussion lines have come a long way since I marched, but (again IMO) at the expense of brass lines. Even when both brass and percussion are playing simultaneously, it's as if the percussion arrangers slid in charts from the winter percussion season and hoped for the best. I do not find todays percussion lines as musical as they were in the not so distant past.

 

 

In reality the process for most is much more collaborative than you describe. Drastically so. And that is without even considering Crossmen, who has one arranger that does both.

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27 minutes ago, mingusmonk said:

In reality the process for most is much more collaborative than you describe. Drastically so. And that is without even considering Crossmen, who has one arranger that does both.

That may well be true however, I did say I was being slightly sarcastic. It does not alter the fact that brass lines play less complete musical phrases and less music overall than the past.  

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Good description chop and bop style heard it called yaking back and forth as well. Short choppy notes that do not lead to any melody looses me no madder how many squilligy legs occur.
New innoviations like the trombones and singing have been at the expense of trumpet  mellophone, and baratione solos. 

Amplifiation how much  attention is spent on a balanced (right/left) projection throughout the seating area. Rock groups keep logs on the most optium speaker placement at each venue. 

Then there is Lucas Oil Stadium with sound bouncing off the infurstructure all over the place before it arrives at your ears. Early on dci did what it could to improve acoustics . Opening the roof was an option but came at a huge expense and then there are weather concerns that I am glad we do not have to deal with.

At the time Dan mansplanned this to us by saying that human bodies (folks in the seats) are the best thing to absorb the sound.  Maybe Dan thought he was back in the Rose Bowl where that does occur but it is a pipe dream for Lucua Oil.

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On 6/27/2018 at 12:31 AM, CrownBariDad said:

I find that Corps that invert the pyramid -- emphasizing the treble end -- tend to sound brittle and harsh, at least to my ears. That's just how all my teachers approached balance -- lower voices prominent.

Good comment. Which is the way things were for the most part into the late 70's and with some corps, past that. Very "soprano-centric" as we used to say.

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Overall I think that 

“BAAAAAAOOOOOOOwipwipwip!!!”

...provides plenty of

”BAKABAKAJUTGADUZH!!!”

...and allows the DC viewer to

”oodilieoodilieoodilieoooooo....” (ppp)

...allowing them to contemplate the

“GLOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNN!!!” (Synth)

....thus enriching one’s experi—

“GIZHHGIZHHdutdutdutduRAMMAGAHKUNHGAHKUNHGAHKUNHHHH.....GUUUUZHH....!!!!””

 

I think that about covers it. :blow:

 

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On 6/27/2018 at 11:31 AM, jjeffeory said:

Cavaliers and Crown aren't micing the whole corps. They're just loud.  I doubt Boston and Colts are either.

Cavaliers are micing soloist.  That's it.  They were against the whole micing the whole corps thing last year. I doubt they have changed their stance.

I recently attended a show and sat directly in front of speakers on side A near the 20.  Boston is blatantly amplifying their entire brass line.  No question. I also noticed twice during their show when no brass were playing (mouthpieces were not at mouths) and they played digitized brass samples through those speakers.  It is possible they are not only amplifying their brass, but adding more texture through layering digitized samples during high volume passages.

In a larger stadium, those seated center stage may not be able to easily detect the extent to which corps are amping their brass sections.  The Blue Devils did a masterful job of blending their amplification last year.  Two prominent examples were in the large triangle in the opener, creating an 'organ like' effect, and in the high (very high) brass feature late in the show.

I am not completely opposed to amplification.  There are times when it adds depth (e. g. the pedal tones SCV used so effectively in the big push near the end of 'Ballet for Martha'). It can also provide subtle textures that would be difficult ( perhaps impossible) because of placement of brass players on parts of the field. 

It seems inevitable that we will see more amplification in the future.  Let's just hope it is done appropriately and we don't see 'too much amplification' distract from the overall performances like 'too much vocals' has done at times.

 

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