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ThirdValvesAreForWimps

Brass Arrangements Sound the Same

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I think too many show designers believe they need to push the limits of creativity in order to appeal to the judging staff.  Judges don't care about what style a show is or the musical selection, they care about technique.  Abstract is often the default style when trying to push the limits because it's so unique... " a bad artist can be a great abstract artist when there are no defined guidelines or technique.".  Realism is preferred by the general public, which is the majority of DCI spectators and patrons: parents, relatives, friends, past members, etc. who just want to see and hear something they can relate too, which is what makes a show(s) memorable and willing to pay to hear more like it.  Realism is defined by guidelines.  It takes much greater skill and training to arrange a musical score to fit brass and percussion and keep it sounding true to the original score than it is to arrange it in a more abstract style where it can become watered down with odd (abstract) voicing and phrasing.  Rarely do you hear today's corps play the complexity they did 15+ years ago.  Hornlines use to perform highly technical string arpeggios to remain true to the string parts of a composition. Today electronic keyboards are used in lieu of highly technical horn parts.  Are today's performers and designers not as well trained as they once were?  Phantom once simulated a pipe organ (playing full ranks) so authentic it made everyone imagine they were in a cathedral.  Won't have that today.  Hornlines were once able to play at such record volume levels on demand and with unbelievable control.  Today, volume is at the mercy of the sound system.  I don't think players have the chops anymore and staff has little interest or training to build chops.  I would love to hear today's crowds respond to PR's 1989 New World show played back to back with their show today.  It's easy to know which would get the crowd appeal.  "Win the heart of people and you win the war."

Edited by Land_Surfer
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Thank you. It's all scalar technique exercises, tonguing drills, then a mellos BA-WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH then BIG ####### LOUD CHORD and repeat for 12 minutes. Oh, it's brass band music? Brass band music sucks. It's a total joke that such well-trained performers are given such meaningless slop to perform. Drum corps has for decades argued against the "not real music" criticism, but real music is a lot more than scales and loud chords--phrasing, dynamics, control, tension. It's not there these days.

On a larger level it's amazing that with 150 members and so many different possible combinations, we get such boring, generic musical packages that go predictably from pit fill to brass runs to drum fill to brass runs to drum fill to LOUD chord, and if we're unlucky, the same ol' mic'd singing.

On the other hand, a lot of drum corps arrangements were big, dumb and loud in the 70s, and there was a lot less emphasis on trying to match the sound of the originals, so maybe it's all full circle.

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3 hours ago, Land_Surfer said:

I think too many show designers believe they need to push the limits of creativity in order to appeal to the judging staff.  Judges don't care about what style a show is or the musical selection, they care about technique.  Abstract is often the default style when trying to push the limits because it's so unique... " a bad artist can be a great abstract artist when there are no defined guidelines or technique.".  Realism is preferred by the general public, which is the majority of DCI spectators and patrons: parents, relatives, friends, past members, etc. who just want to see and hear something they can relate too, which is what makes a show(s) memorable and willing to pay to hear more like it.  Realism is defined by guidelines.  It takes much greater skill and training to arrange a musical score to fit brass and percussion and keep it sounding true to the original score than it is to arrange it in a more abstract style where it can become watered down with odd (abstract) voicing and phrasing.  Rarely do you hear today's corps play the complexity they did 15+ years ago.  Hornlines use to perform highly technical string arpeggios to remain true to the string parts of a composition. Today electronic keyboards are used in lieu of highly technical horn parts.  Are today's performers and designers not as well trained as they once were?  Phantom once simulated a pipe organ (playing full ranks) so authentic it made everyone imagine they were in a cathedral.  Won't have that today.  Hornlines were once able to play at such record volume levels on demand and with unbelievable control.  Today, volume is at the mercy of the sound system.  I don't think players have the chops anymore and staff has little interest or training to build chops.  I would love to hear today's crowds respond to PR's 1989 New World show played back to back with their show today.  It's easy to know which would get the crowd appeal.  "Win the heart of people and you win the war."

 

There's so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin. Thankfully, the second line pretty much represents how incorrect this take is, so there's no need to bother with the rest:

"Judges don't care about what style a show is".

Uh, style and stylistic variety are written on the place mats (sheets). You play the style correctly, you get credit. If you botch it, you get wrecked. The wider the variety of styles in the program , the more credit you receive (assuming you achieve that style). More challenging styles of music, when achieved, receive more credit.

None of this is new.

Edited by Kamarag
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I have long been a believer MELODY is the most important characteristic of music. I am not a musician. However, I think music is best when it is memorable. To be memorable, the piece needs to flow coherently in a pleasing way. That is, to have a pattern. It needs to make cohesive sense. It needs to be something you can replicate in your mind on the drive home and at other times during the day.

To experience music in a satisfactory manner, the listener also needs to have some basis of comparison. In other words, "Hey, I always liked that tune since the first time I heard it, and these guys are doing a great job bringing it to me. They are nailing what made it all successful in the first place." "Yes, that it ! Thank you." The audience prefers to evaluate as to some recognizable standard.

Of course, we still experience some melody.. . . just not enough.

Back in my day, drum corps was primarily a brass presentation of familiar tunes with complimentary percussion and movement.  Today, it's a movement/dance display with brass and percussion added in. That's fine. The activity must always seek its own level and I still enjoy it.  But, general audiences and neighborhood families at $40 a pop? Probably not.

 

 

 

Edited by Fred Windish
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On 7/4/2018 at 11:16 AM, Candid Insight said:

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.

 

I was corrected before.

I should note that I saw Cavaliers BEFORE they were mic'd, so sorry everyone about that.

 

I didn't think Boston would do that either, but here we are....

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I for one enjoy a good majority of the arrangements this year. My complaint is not with the arrangements, but with the fact that a lot of corps don't have a unique sound or signature any more. 

I've found the music to be plenty musical and melodic

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21 hours ago, Kamarag said:

 

There's so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin. Thankfully, the second line pretty much represents how incorrect this take is, so there's no need to bother with the rest:

"Judges don't care about what style a show is".

Uh, style and stylistic variety are written on the place mats (sheets). You play the style correctly, you get credit. If you botch it, you get wrecked. The wider the variety of styles in the program , the more credit you receive (assuming you achieve that style). More challenging styles of music, when achieved, receive more credit.

None of this is new.

Style on a score sheet will be jazz, classical, etc., they won't be realism, abstract, etc. which were the creative styles I was referring to.

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19 minutes ago, Land_Surfer said:

Style on a score sheet will be jazz, classical, etc., they won't be realism, abstract, etc. which were the creative styles I was referring to.

 

Actually, it very much includes those things.

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