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cfirwin3

"Stop standing around! That's not how this works!" (Another Show Comparison)

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After my first comparison, some of you voiced that you would rather pick a different show from the 80's-90's (one that some regard more highly than the Star '91 program) and then compare it to a far more controversial program from the present... Which to me doesn't seem like a fair exercise, but heck!... I aim to please!

We take another look at a couple of DCI shows from yesteryear and today to compare the design and technical difficulty. We are looking at Garfield Cadets 1987 and compare it with Blue Devils 2017... The very best of a time gone by with the very controversial of the present.  YouTube source videos are linked in the description to this one.

Get together your babies, underwear and sledgehammers!  Throw at will!:

 

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50 minutes ago, StuStu said:

Very interesting comparison, and a great way to illustrate how design has evolved over the last 30 years.

The single biggest difference I see is in the talent level of the performers.  I was in the '87 mellophone line at Garfield, and in this era I'd be lucky to march anywhere in the Top 12.  We had lead players who could not read music. Today nearly 50% of the players are some form of music major.  When you have that level of performer you can do more musically.

That said, it seems the brass played a larger percentage of the show in '87 than in '17.  Heck, we only put our horns down for one 40 count move, otherwise they were up the entire time.  Percussion is another story, they're playing almost the full show with high visual demand.

You also make a strong case for the basic design premise that there is an inverse relationship between musical and visual difficulty.  You're correct that one can't reasonably expect players to move playing the intricate chromatic-triple-tonunging stuff that's prevalent today.

One thing I think you've overlooked is the difficulty of the Zingali-style "reshape" drill.  Today's linear drills require extreme precision, but many of them are built off of set points on the field, using hashes and yard lines as alignment tools.  A reshape has no such anchor, and requires extremely good form control.

Another fundamental change I see in design is the choice of music itself.  The Blue Devils in particular graft a lot of bits and pieces together, which allows the designers to build the show exactly as they want.  The challenge in '87 was to convey the essence of an orchestral work on a football field, and the design choices stemmed from that.  One isn't necessarily better than the other, they just approach the design from different directions.

It's nice to see something I was a part of is still remembered, and its flattering to be compared to a show like '17 BD.  That show was sparkling clean, and seemed almost effortless from the corps.  The great ones make it look easy.

Thank you for the personal insight on this comparison.

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1 hour ago, StuStu said:

Very interesting comparison, and a great way to illustrate how design has evolved over the last 30 years.

The single biggest difference I see is in the talent level of the performers.  I was in the '87 mellophone line at Garfield, and in this era I'd be lucky to march anywhere in the Top 12.  We had lead players who could not read music. Today nearly 50% of the players are some form of music major.  When you have that level of performer you can do more musically.

Definitely agree with the above.. I remember there being at least two sopranos that year that were essentially learning the instrument - including writing in all the fingerings at the first few camps. Doubt you'd see that nowadays in a top corps.

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2 hours ago, frachel said:

Definitely agree with the above.. I remember there being at least two sopranos that year that were essentially learning the instrument - including writing in all the fingerings at the first few camps. Doubt you'd see that nowadays in a top corps.

BITD, almost a universal activity for a lot of corps...I learned to play on a valve/rotor soprano, and when I went to HS and was handed a trumpet I looked at the band director and was like "what do I do with this...?"

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6 minutes ago, gak27 said:

BITD, almost a universal activity for a lot of corps...I learned to play on a valve/rotor soprano, and when I went to HS and was handed a trumpet I looked at the band director and was like "what do I do with this...?"

Sister was a trombone player and didn’t know fingerings (same for me when I joined corps). While I was at college she taught herself fingerings with my corps horn that stayed behind. Off all things she filled in at tuba during MB season one year as no other tubas and she had learned fingerings 

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2 hours ago, frachel said:

Definitely agree with the above.. I remember there being at least two sopranos that year that were essentially learning the instrument - including writing in all the fingerings at the first few camps. Doubt you'd see that nowadays in a top corps.

Do keep in mind, however, that these corps were playing on G bugles. Even music majors had to adjust to G and reading the clef the right way.  Also, I do agree with the majority that across the board the talent is higher today. There is no doubt about that. The depth of the TOP corps today in each section is better. But I do caution people who think Garfield, or other corps, did not have super talent. There has been a general regard being tossed around that Garfield/The Cadets did not have a lot of talent but just worked hard and had great design. This is really a false presumption. Maybe they did not have BD talent (then again who did back in the day?) but I'd say Garfield/The Cadets from the 80s to the early 2000s were as talented as most corps out there...maybe more so. We must also disregard the notion that just because a corps has more music majors makes it more talented. I knew plenty of non-music majors in college who were vastly better players than many of the majors. There are kids that can pick up an instrument and in one summer of hard work do amazing things.  This was one of the great aspects to drum corps. 

Great subject to discuss. Thanks to the OP for the topic.

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4 hours ago, StuStu said:

That said, it seems the brass played a larger percentage of the show in '87 than in '17.  Heck, we only put our horns down for one 40 count move, otherwise they were up the entire time.  Percussion is another story, they're playing almost the full show with high visual demand.

A number of good insights in your post. I'm just noting this point because it is one facet of what started this conversation and inspired cfirwin3 to make these excellent videos.

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Thanks for taking another shot at this!

I'll have to watch it when I have time.

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13 minutes ago, jwillis35 said:

Do keep in mind, however, that these corps were playing on G bugles. Even music majors had to adjust to G and reading the clef the right way. 

It's really only aural adjustment, at least for soprano.. Aside from G#/Ab above the staff being 1st valve, its otherwise identical to the Bb (or C) trumpet you were coming from. Still treble clef, notes in the same place, and same fingerings.

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