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Who in your opinion is the best drill designer in D. C. I's history?

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George Zingali, Steve Brubaker, Marc Sylvester, Pete Emmons, Bobby Hoffman, Michael Gaines, John Brazale, Jim Jones, Jeff Sacktig, Ralph Pace, Jeff Chandler.

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George Zingali, Michael Gains, Steve Brubaker, Marc Sylvester, Jeff Sacktig, Bobby Hoffman, George Lindstrom, Pete Emmons, Gordon Henderson, Jim Jones, Myron Rosander, and Pete Weber; Leon May and Jonathan Vanderkolff are earning their recognition into the elite ranks right now too. "Drill" seems to be less important than "visual", which includes drill these days though.


Honestly, we need some more Pete Weber drill as he's not been as active recently. Also, I think Rosander drill would be great drill to see these days. Very organic and geometric. (RIP to all the great visual guys that we've lost on this list).


Pretty much any SCV, Cavalier, and Cadet people seem to make the great drill writer list. I wish there were women on this list. There actually SHOULD BE some women on this list, too. I just don't have the knowledge.


Edited by jjeffeory
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4 hours ago, LabMaster said:

Anyone from BD?

I heard Michael Cesario call Jay Murphy's drill from 1987 "state of the art drill" on that particular year's telecast.  So, perhaps we should be adding that DCI Hall of Famer to the list, too?


"Jay’s brilliance is seeing creative opportunities and then designing a magically-staged iconic production—A combination of traditional drum corps, Cirque du Soleil and amazing ballet.” - David Gibbs




Edited by jjeffeory
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It may be difficult to process for anyone under 60 but, prior to the  DCI Era, drum corps "drill" was based on this:


Now, "visuals" are more closely related to:


Interestingly, both approaches, in a blended form, remain relevant.

Today's heroes "stand on the shoulders of giants".

And the contributions of women in the activity have always been under-valued, in every caption. It could be argued that today's visual designs are heavily influenced by color guard concepts, traditionally the bailiwick of female performers who developed movement, prop, and equipment innovations. Yet to this day, even that arena is male-dominated, at least in terms of who gets the overall credit for design.

Women have made recent progress at the management level in drum corps and there are even some notable female music caption heads, but visual design still seems closed to them. It will be interesting to see what the next decade shows.

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it's going to depend on the era. mid 80s' to mid 90's, the top 2 are Zingali and Brubaker. then you have Gaines, Sacktig, even Murphy and Rosander for the next 15 -20 years...or more in some cases. I am sure i am missing names, but those are the ones that stand out to me.

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Like Jeff said, I think it depends on the era and also what appealed to you. Writing drill is an artform but one that affects each of us differently. The activity today is more a combination of drill, dance, body movement and character acting, props, staging, etc. It's no longer just straight up drill and music. 

In the 70s Pete Emmons is a name that has to come up. He taught many future drill writers. 

The George Zingali / Marc Sylvester combination of writer / teacher worked its magic in the late 70s and early 80s with 27th Lancers and then Garfield Cadets. Zingali would also work with Star of Indiana in the late 80s and those first two years in the 90s. 

At the same time Zingali and Sylvester were doing their thing, Steve Brubaker was pioneering some beautiful geometric designs with the Cavaliers from 1984 into the early 90s. 

The thing to consider when it comes to drill writing is that everyone was influenced by everyone else. The ideas are fluid and each new germ of an idea tends to lead others to try things. I think most people tend to put Zingali and Brubaker at the top of the list simply because it was so obvious what they were doing and how it changed the activity in the 80s, but all the names below had a hand in the advances, changes, and great designs over the course of DCI history. I don't know if there is a best. There are designers who had more influence, but in the end it comes down to how did the drill work with the music and overall show. 

  • George Zingali
  • Steve Brubaker
  • Pete Emmons
  • Scott Chandler
  • Michael Gaines
  • Jay Murphy
  • Tony Smith
  • Bobby Hoffman
  • Jeff Sacktig
  • John Brazale
  • Mark Sylvester
  • Myron Rosander
  • David Owens
  • Tony Hall
  • Ralph Pace
  • Jonathan Vanderkoff

And many many more. 

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