SWriverstone

SCV's show was an epic musical fail.

Recommended Posts

18 minutes ago, SWriverstone said:

Lots of interesting posts and points—thanks! 

On the definition of quality—lots of people put forth the notion that "there is no such thing as definable quality." Maybe. But if you follow this concept to its logical conclusion, then DCI wouldn't exist—because there would be no competition. Why? Because you can no more or less define "quality" in music than you can in execution. Just because a row of musicians marches in a flawlessly straight line or a mathematically precise curve isn't "proof" that it's "high-quality marching." 

Yes, DCI *attempts* to set forth standards by which certain aspects of a show are judged objectively—but it's just as subjective as me saying SCV's music was an epic fail. Even when given clearly-defined criteria, everything judges do is subjective. They are expressing their opinions about who is 1st, who is 2nd, and so on. (If someone has some omnipotent, mechanically precise method for determining who executes the best, please enlighten us!)

If you think I'm undermining my own argument, bear with me—in the absence of any real ability to judge objectively, subjectivity is all we have. If we don't at least try to establish some definition of quality, then we're totally unmoored—just a bunch of babbling fools making progress toward...nothing.

---
Getting back to the issue of SCV's music—some here seem to think I lack the ear to understand it. Again, I love a lot of music considered "difficult" by most people. I love Charles Ives' Concord Sonata.  I'm no stranger to dissonance, odd-meter rhythms, abrupt transitions, non-chord tones, bitonalism, etc. And yet I still thought SCV's show was an awful mashup filled with jarring transitions and musical filler.

---
I'd really like to continue the thread and try to add to the conversation, but (contrary to those who suggested I don't have enough going in my life) I have a busy life with a family, kids, and a great job with en environmental nonprofit, and I just don't have the time. Haters and single-syllable grunters rejoice! YOU WON!!!  :thumbup:

Thanks to those who made intelligent, reasonable posts—I really appreciate your replies!

Otherwise, this whole thread has left me believing that DCI has a serious case of "The Emperor's New Clothes" going on: drum corps fans have become so blinded by flashy baubles in the form of scatter drill, props on the field, hornline choreography, amplified digital samples and the like that they've forgotten how wonderful it is when a corps plays music that the crowd can actually relate to and groove with. And imagine how amazing corps shows would be if you added the scatter drill, choreography, props, etc. to an accessible musical show!

It's also clear that as a youth activity, drum corps will never grow beyond its current state without making shows more accessible and entertaining. You can deride that as lowest-common-denominator BS all you like, but it's just reality. (What's that? You think the activity is healthy and growing? Look around a bit.) If you want drum corps to be what it currently is: an insider's activity where the target audience is corps alums, parents, staff, corps members, and every high school and university band director in the nation, then Hallelujah!

But if you'd like to see every major city in the country have a great corps—and see the activity catch on in a meaningful way in smaller cities and communities (and internationally), shows like SCV's will not get you there.

Scott

PS - A couple folks asked me what drum corps shows met my criteria for great music? I could pull a list together, but it's pointless—because most of the list would be of shows from 10, 20 and 30 years ago—which many here would laugh at as being old-school and irrelevant. This is because "old-school" drum corps relied mainly on the music to sell a crowd (because they didn't have much else to offer).

• For SCV, my "Exhibit A" is their 1999 opener "The Canyon." Absolutely brilliant musically (and supported by a drill that perfectly fit the music).
• Another brilliant SCV opener: 1985's "Festive Overture" (Shostakovitch)
• The Cadets entire 1983 show: Rocky Point Holiday was one of the greatest openers in DCI history, bar none.
• Phantom Regiment's "Malambo" in 1979

I could go on—the point is NOT that the visuals of the above examples compare with today's. The point is, minimize your browser window and just LISTEN. If you''d really rather hear SCV's music from this year's show than the above examples, I just shake my head.

if you're trying to say a tic system needs to come back, it'll never work. there was never EVER a definitive version of what a tic was, what demand was....just like that which you moan about here.

 

The bottom line is this for DCI: The audience will tell the corps what is and isnt working. And about 10 years ago, we saw attendance plummet. everywhere, not just Indy. So DCI started doing some tweaking of the sheets, and encouraging designers to embrace the paying spectators more. I think in the last 6 years we have seen that shift pay off as attendance is up in many places, including the broadcast stuff. 

 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, SWriverstone said:

Sorry ouooga—let's see how the activity is doing in 10 or 20 years. Then tell me if SCV 2018 is marketable. And anytime you'd like to convene a focus group of people on the street and ask them to compare SCV's music to the examples i posted above, I'd be happy to do it with you if we can find funding to do it. Because I'm 100% certain the average person on the street would NOT find this music satisfying to listen to. Sure, they might be impressed with the visuals...but not the music.

Scott

drum corps is NEVER going to be mass marketable unless you return to Sousa marches. 

 

to the world at large we are BAND. You know band that gets ignored at half time at football games world wide weekly. Band that gets candy thrown at it marching down the street in the Halloween parade. Band that launched a million jokes, a love story and other craziness in the American Pie movies. Plus, there's so much other entertainment competition out there, 80% of it requiring you to never leave your home.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, bicsta said:

snip

 I have a BM degree from Juilliard

/snip

 

As an MD, this post is a BM.

Noooooooooooooooooooooo:peek:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, TerriTroop said:

First: I apologize in advance because I didn't have time to read 14 pages of replies. I literally have 15 minutes to try to reply coherently, and I feel compelled to do so now because this topic is of great interest to me, but my time the rest of this week is very limited. (inservice days and preparing my materials for day 1 next week!)

second: I have a BM and MM in Music Theory with a minor in music history. I am a choir director, band director, and I teach general music as well, all in grades 3-12. I also teach an 11th grade human aesthetics block called "History Through Music." I'm starting year 20 this year.

That said, I disagree with the original post on several fronts.

 

1) Music's "quality": It is well known in music theory circles that many researchers attempt to codify music for "quality." Schenker, for example, was a  German theorist who attempted to prove the "quality" of music based on its underlying harmonic principles, and music of "German" styles were, by his measure, meant to be seen as better in "quality." I won't go into the details, but spending a year in grad school working on Schenker graphs taught me that this method of discerning "quality" was often arbitrary and sometimes highly contrived. MY POINT: Music's "quality" is not something that we can’t codify completely by any particular system.

2) Musical "taste": I generally have a distaste for Mozart. Mozart's music is high in "quality" but low on my "taste" measure. I can hear the quality of it but I don't have to like it. Many people have difficulty recognizing or ascribing quality when music doesn't fit their taste. The more educated a person is about music (self educated can be just as good, IMO) the more they can accept this difference. I also don't like the Carpenters much, but I recognize the harmonic beauty in combination with creative melodies that sometimes suspend and resolve in unusual ways. So, the Blue Stars show wasn't as interesting to me from a musical standpoint (except for the more esoteric piece by Carpenter), but I recognize the value of the music. 

3) Regularity of rhythm is NOT a measure of quality: I'm not sure if I missed a detail in the OP, so I may be off base here. Regularity and irregularity of rhythm have certain effects, and neither is a requirement for "quality." The intentionality of the rhythm is what is important. Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and hundreds of other modern composers will play with rhythm in jarring ways for effect. Entire pieces are written without a sense of beat - "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima" by Penderecki, for one very important example. Webern and others of the serialist style intentionally avoided beat. (and I struggle with taste in regard to those pieces, but their historical significance can't be overstated - the emancipation of music from long-evolving rules of harmony and form was needed, and that purpose was served by the work of serialist composers)

Now, to address SCV's show: I find most DCI shows to have the same problem of "chopped up" musical examples that flow somewhat poorly. SCV is no exception to that problem. It is very rare that I feel that a show flows so well as a whole that I am swept away into a musical landscape that feels whole. 2007 Crown (Triple Crown) is one example, along with 2009 SCV (beautifully rendered Appalachian Spring show with clear thought as to the original music and movement), and I forget the year but SCV's recent Les Mis show all fit those examples for me. FOR ME.

And that brings me to my last point: it is good that people attempt to discern their measure of quality. We should all do that. But for hundreds of years music theorists have argued over musical "quality" and nobody has discovered a magic formula. Music's effect on the brain is simultaneously well documented and mysterious. But drum corps is about the whole package - visual intrigue, movement, showcases of individual groups, etc. I think it's clear to many of us who have followed the activity for decades that the days of "audio only" enjoyment are becoming rarer. Is that a musical "fail", or is that the nature of how shows must be designed to suit boxes evaluated by judges? I'm not sure I have an answer to that one.

My 15 minutes are up. Hopefully I'll have time to catch up on this discussion late this evening.

Good enough FOR ME too.

Scott's verbosity is him, and his. To each his own.

You had me at Appalachian Spring...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jeff Ream said:

drum corps is NEVER going to be mass marketable unless you return to Sousa marches. 

 

to the world at large we are BAND. You know band that gets ignored at half time at football games world wide weekly. Band that gets candy thrown at it marching down the street in the Halloween parade. Band that launched a million jokes, a love story and other craziness in the American Pie movies. Plus, there's so much other entertainment competition out there, 80% of it requiring you to never leave your home.

And therein, at least to me, lies a VERY key element.  I fully agree.  And applicable to far more areas than just Drum Corps.  Sad...so very sad.

Edited by HornTeacher

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, SWriverstone said:

I'd really like to continue the thread and try to add to the conversation, but (contrary to those who suggested I don't have enough going in my life) I have a busy life with a family, kids, and a great job with en environmental nonprofit, and I just don't have the time. Haters and single-syllable grunters rejoice! YOU WON!!!  :thumbup:

Thanks to those who made intelligent, reasonable posts—I really appreciate your replies!

I think you have insight and knowledge of the subject.  I just wish you had addressed it differently. It wasn't tactful, to put it mildly.

Look at the thread title you made. Following the thread title, your post was a lengthy dissertation tearing apart the championship drum corps show 2 days after winning finals.  :tounge2:

It may be better received it you addressed the subject like "Why I think the music of DCI is in decline" as a starter. Maybe bring it up one point at a time, in smaller doses, without specifically bashing someone.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, StarOrg said:

No disrespect Mike. That was a bad "all or nothing" statement on my part. There are corps that look to audience appeal in parts of their shows. But I do see that the top contenders do write to what the judges are rewarding year to year. I think we would agree on that.  

In most cases, this is true, but not all. I would suggest this year’s Bluecoats percussion book was an exception to writing to the sheets and they paid a price because of it. I am still glad they choose to write a show appropriate to the jazz idium rather than write to to sheets. 

Edited by Jurassic Lancer

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, kkrepps said:

I think you have insight and knowledge of the subject.  I just wish you had addressed it differently. It wasn't tactful, to put it mildly.

Look at the thread title you made. Following the thread title, your post was a lengthy dissertation tearing apart the championship drum corps show 2 days after winning finals.  :tounge2:

It may be better received it you addressed the subject like "Why I think the music of DCI is in decline" as a starter. Maybe bring it up one point at a time, in smaller doses, without specifically bashing someone.

  Image result for this.... gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.