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Best Decade of Drumcorp

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2 hours ago, Tim K said:

It seems that for many people the years you marched or the years you’re eligible to march are often the favorite years. To some extent that’s the case with me. I would have aged out in 1985 and my favorite decade is the 80’s with 1979 thrown in for good measure. I have enjoyed most years and decades, but 2011-2019 has often  blown me away. I find so many engaging and entertaining.

i can't pick a favorite, and my era for marching, albeit in DCA was 89-96. I love so many things from each decade ( and dislike many as well), that really no one decade stands apart. last week driving to one of my offices thats about a 50 minute drive, I listened to shows over 4 of the 5 decades and love them all.

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Mid 70's through mid 2000's. Synthesizers ruined it for me. 

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There is something to appreciate in every decade. 

We have also gone through periods where I didn't like a trend, only for it to go away.  In the '80s many guards stop using rifles and I really missed a nice unison rifle line.  Then they become popular again.  Yet at the same time, visuals took off and some of the drill that was presented was absolutely amazing. 

At the moment I have a challenge with the concept of staging.  I like big pictures on the field, not small pods doing their own thing.  


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Loved the 80's because of course that is when I marched. But I have been really blown away by shows even up to the current day. Not a fan of mics or synthesizers though. And it is just my opinion, but at times, props are overdone.

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16 hours ago, SFZFAN said:

Mid 70's through mid 2000's. Synthesizers ruined it for me. 

And apparently it is confusing to you that I believe drum corps continues to get better all the time (given your reaction to my previous post). You are entitled to your opinion that synthesizers ruined drum corp for you and I am entitled to mine.  I am not at all confused by your opinion and have no need to use the confused emoji. In any case, I hope that clears up your confusion. 

Edited by Jurassic Lancer
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59 minutes ago, ndrudy2013 said:

The best it 84-94 without a doubt

I would agree! Most were still marching without fluttering, ring-around-the-posie, and striking poses. Brass were playing music without over abundance of front ensemble, microphones, and electronic tracks. Percussion actually played solos while marching. Guards were still doing a lot of unison work and props were not used to try and prop up a bad show. 

Edited by Poppycock
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The best decades of Drum Corps were the Classic corps of the 1950s and 1960s.

Quick Wikipedia Summary:

Classic corps of the 1950s and 1960s used fewer exotic percussion instruments and relied instead on the stadium-filling power of a traditional line (or " battery ") consisting of six or eight 12-inch-deep (300 mm) by 15-inch-wide (380 mm) double-tension maple snare and tenor drum shells and two or occasionally three 26-inch-wide (660 mm) by 12-inch-deep (300 mm) bass drums with an ornamental shell covering of hard plastic in a glossy sparkle or pearlescent finish.

Full Source Description: Drum and bugle corps (classic) - Wikipedia


Classic (or "Golden Age") drum and bugle corps with musical ensembles that descended from military bugle and drum units returning from World War I and succeeding wars. Traditionally, drum and bugle corps served as signaling units as early as before the American Civil War, with these signaling units having descended in some fashion from ancient drum and fife corps. With the advent of the radio, bugle signaling units became obsolete and surplus equipment was sold to veteran organizations (such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, two major organizers for classic drum corps). These organizations formed drum and bugle corps comprised of civilians and veterans, and the corps performed in community events and local celebrations. Over time, rivalries between corps emerged and the competitive drum and bugle corps circuit evolved.

The term "classic" is used for the purposes of this article to differentiate it from modern drum and bugle corps, using the time period of the establishment of Drum Corps International as a dividing point in the timeline of the two types of drum and bugle corps. Modern drum and bugle corps are a continuation of the classic variety, for all intents and purposes, having the same origins, though some corps in the "classic" model do still exist.

Traditionally, drum and bugle corps consisted of bell-front brass horns, field drums, a color guard, and an honor guard. Drum and bugle corps have often been mistaken for marching bands, since there is a similarity to both groups having horns and drums; and they are both essentially bands of musicians that march. The activities are different in organization (marching bands usually associate with high schools and colleges while drum corps are freestanding organizations), competition and performance (marching bands perform in the fall at football games, drum corps usually compete during the summer), and instrumentation (drum corps use only brass bugles and drums, marching bands incorporate woodwinds and other alternative instruments).


Within the mainland United States drum and bugle corps can trace their origins to the many Veterans of Foreign Wars ("VFW") and American Legion ("AL") meeting halls, where First World War and Spanish–American War veterans met and formed musical ensembles to entertain their communities, some of them being veterans of drum and bugle/field trumpet ensembles within the armed forces (Army, Marine Corps and Navy). The tradition of these military ensembles would later be adopted by civilian groups beginning in the 1880s, and no less than John Philip Sousa saw their potential, for these formations he wrote his first book, Trumpet and Drum, which included his own compositions for such formations. In addition to VFW - and AL-sponsored corps, other drum corps were founded by Boy Scouts of America troops (such as the corps that would become the modern-day corps: the Racine Scouts, The Cavaliers and the Madison Scouts), Elks lodges, YMCAs, the Catholic Youth Organization, Police Athletic Leagues (such as would found the Bluecoats), fire fighter organizations, and local businesses, as well as Churches, grammar schools, high schools and colleges. By far, Church-sponsored organizations predominated the drum corp circuits in the eastern coast states. In addition, the touring concerts of the drum and bugle band of the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada regiment of the Canadian Army Primary Reserve, which by then was among the pioneer bands of that type in North America,[4] would also be an inspiration for the formation of early military and civil corps in the 1910s and 1920s, spurred on with the 1934 formation of what is now today the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.

Rivalries between corps led to a shift towards competition and the AL and VFW both ran successful competition circuits through the late 1960s and early 1970s.

With improved national transportation trends by the 1960s, drum and bugle corps proliferated, both in the sheer numbers of both new and established corps across North America, in the many competitions held then, and in the stadium attendance counts.

At this time, however, there was unrest among some directors and instructors who were critical of the competition-rules committees of the veterans' organizations which governed and sanctioned state and national championship competitions.

The payment structure for shows was weighted so that the corps with the highest placement got the most prize money; corps who attended shows from great distances but placed poorly were at times left with financial losses, and some corps sought a fixed payment structure for all participating corps.

The second major reason was the desire by the some corps to have more control over their competitive performances. As an example, at the height of the Vietnam War a 1971 show by the Garfield Cadets drew criticisms from VFW organizers over a formation where the corps formed a large peace sign, which angered the staff of that corps over its loss of "artistic freedom". Both the Combine and Drum Corps International demanded that corps themselves should control rulemaking decisions.

Members of the Regimental Band of The Queen's York Rangers (1st American Regiment) (RCAC) during the 2008 Toronto Santa Claus Parade.
The VFW and American Legion rules differed to a degree (although American Legion rules predominated in nearly every contest) and pressure increased to find a common judging system. Concerns were also voiced over contest promoters' rights in choosing sponsors and judges, and complaints arose regarding the lack of self-governance of competition circuits. The dissenters also expressed reservations about the increasing numbers of independent non-corps-sponsored competitions.

Some corps managers, directors and instructors walked out of the 1969 VFW national rules committee meeting after their requests for major rules changes were not approved, and some of the protesting participants then formed the by-invitation-only (and short-lived) Midwest Combine in 1971. In 1972, Drum Corps International was founded, and was designed to create one uniform, corps-governed competitive circuit for junior drum and bugle corps (members aged twenty-one or less). DCI formed its own rules-governing body and enacted membership fees causing further disparity between startup drum corps and more professional units. This milestone event marked the beginning of the modern drum corps era.

Most of the still-numerous North American competitive corps joined in the movement of change under new leadership, and by the mid-1970s the rapid introduction and proliferation into competitive drum and bugle corps of previously-unfamiliar innovations (on-field dancing, creative costuming, novelty effects and unusual instrumentation) effectively ended the Classic competitive era.

Currently, we still have the 'Commandant's Own', (USMC) who still perform in the 'Old School' format modified to the 'New Age' Drum Corps content format.

If you wish to read more, explore the following links......

 Fennell, George D. (2008). Racine: Drum and Bugle Corps Capital of the World (Images of America: Wisconsin). Arcadia Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7385-6133-2.

 Karls, Alan R. (2014). Racine's Horlick Athletic Field: Drums Along the Foundries. Charleston, SC: The History Press. Archived from the original on 2014-06-09.

 McGahey, Suzanne (2006). Winter Guard. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-1-4042-0732-5.

 "Evolution of the Bugle / Evolution of the North American Competition Bugle 1968 through 2006" - The Middle Horn Leader Magazine

 "Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps(Active)", Drum Corps World Archived July 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

External links
Drum Corps Wiki
Drum Corps Planet

Vanguard Classic Drum Corps, " A True Drum Corps Legend", Chicago Area
1959,1961,1962, and 1963 National Champions


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Going to say “ bookends ” to two decades I find to be the best/most entertaining.


These years, in my opinion, had the most entertaining Top 12 shows of any span of DCI history. (1989 and 1992 standing out in particular). 

Why 1988-1993?

#1 reason.
it defined the mantra of Music = Movement as well as the term, “ demand of book”.  Cadets, Star, and Cavaliers.  By the time we get to 91- 93, the drill and demand in drill from these corps is off the charts. Zingali, Brubaker, Sylvester, Rosander, and a young Gaines, all around at this time. 

More reasons: 

1. Arguably the most entertaining shows and concepts in DCI history. More corps encore tunes come from these years then any other years. 

2. The Madison Scouts. (Yes, even 1990- a show which “grows on you”.)

3.  Broadway shows coming to the field with SCV, Cadets, and Madison. 

4. Arguably, some of the best BD brass books of all time. In particular 88,  91, and 93. 

5. 6th- 12th place corps often being as entertaining as the top half of the placements. Especially Crossmen and Bluecoats at this time. And of course, VK’s most memorable shows all came in these years. 

5b….And speaking of Crossmen, it is difficult not to watch their shows during this time, and not bob your head along with their drumline. Great stuff, even on those Premier drum heads from that time. 

5. Attendance in the stands.  KC. Buffalo, Dallas, and Madison - the stands look like they are overflowing. 1993, (in any other place then Jackson), would have likely had the same 25,000- 30,000 plus in the stands as the previous years. 

7.  Curt Gowdy. Yeah, he did have those  Gowdy-isms. (My favorite is “ Bibiical England” for Star 1990, and the crocodile referenced instead of shark for VK 1992).  But to have him do those broadcasts was something special at the time, and even now. 

8. Brass arrangements from one composer or one show brought to the field. We see full shows with one concept: Rutter’s Gloria with Cavaliers. Copland #2 in 88, and 92-93 with David Holsinger with the Cadets. Perhaps the beet are New World Symphony in 89 with Phantom, and the Walton and Resphighi years with Star. Add in Metheny with Crossmen, as well as well as the Broadway years of SCV at this time. 

Edited by Dmlkmen
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I can find something every year that pleases me..That said, the years 82 through 93 hold a special place as I was reintroduced to drum corps via public broadcasting with that Garfield show that blew me away!..For the next decade, innovation and performance, both musically and marching, made drum corps exciting..Culminating with the 93 Cadets vs. Star season..IMO..peace

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